Breakfast time as usual; ever since I took early retirement I have had the pleasure of setting my day as I like rather than as others had planned. The only reason I start each day at the same time is, because that is the time the café I eat at opens.
My usual breakfast is served, they know that I like one cup of coffee before having my breakfast, si I can read the morning papers' headlines and do the usual Good Morning's with all the regular customers.
Breakfast is finished; they have removed the dirty plates and refilled my coffee at least four times. Now to finish the papers and to watch all the rushing around that people do to get their day going.
Next it's time to work off that breakfast. Each day I go for a walk but so as to not get into a rut I have four different walking plans for when I leave the café. One goes east towards downtown where I look into all the store windows, one goes west toward the High School - I prefer to take that way when school is out or on the weekends, just too many people out and about when school is in session, one goes north into the neighborhood where I used to live - I do see a few of my old friends and their walking their dogs as well, and the last is headed south towards the ocean - that is the most calming walk and the most challenging with all the rolling hills and then there is the walk down to the beach and then the walk along the beach and back up to the top of the cliffs.
I walk about two hours and cover about five miles every day. All my walks bring me back towards home and unless I have stopped to talk or gotten re-directed by something I am home no later than 10AM.
From then until dinner time I do my errands, or go shopping. I will stop to grab a bit of lunch if I get hungry.
Dinner time; unless I get an offer for dinner out I make my own, and I have been told that I am a good cook.
After dinner I watch some television then I do about an hour's worth of reading before going to bed.
This is my life and I like it that way.
A few months ago all hell came into my life. Hell can be best described as looking maybe in her mid 40's and five feet one inch, maybe ninety pounds, short light brown hair, and with green eyes. Skin as clear as alabaster. And a voice that was so sweet it sends your blood sugar up unmeasurable levels.
This is how "HELL" came and took over my calm, relaxed, and simple life.
It was a Tuesday morning and when I got to my breakfast place all the counter seats were full. Now this was not all that unusual, so I took a small booth in the back. Got my coffee and breakfast and started reading the morning paper. Then as if the winds of doom blew. This pixy, this tinker bell, walks in and sits down at my table directly across from me. She looks to the waitress and orders hot tea and says that she would be sharing this table. Looking up at me she said, "this was the only empty seat and she felt that I wouldn't mind sharing with her". Especially since I looked a bit lonely all by myself and she could not understand why a good looking man like me was, was eating all alone.
I told her that I preferred to eat alone and that maybe she should just wait for an empty seat somewhere else.
She asked me why was I eating alone and that it did not look like I was going to work in that I was dressed in a sweat suit and walking shoes.
I told her that it was none of her business why I was dressed the way I was, nor was it any of her concern as to my eating arrangements.
At this point the waitress brought her the tea she had ordered and she proceeded to then order breakfast. A breakfast, I might add, that would have clogged the arteries of anyone I know. She ordered bacon, a slice of ham, grits with gravy, and four eggs sunny side up, and 3 biscuits with gravy on the side.
I asked her if that was her normal breakfast, and she replied. "Yeah, most mornings but today I cut out the orange juice"
I tried to go back to my paper but she just kept up a running conversation between bites of her breakfast. I really am not a rude person so I did respond once in a while. To what she was talking about was things right out of the morning papers and not a lot of female jabbering.
After she had finished the last of her biscuits and gravy as well as the third cup of tea she stopped talking and looked at me with those emerald green eyes, batting those very long eye lashes that I could tell were real and not all made up. In fact looking very closely I would have to say she wore absolutely no makeup, just her natural looks that did not do a lot to give away her age.
"Well, breakfast buddy, I have been yakking away for the past half hour, now it's your turn," she said.
I said, "Look here young lady, you come in here, set your ass down at my table, took over as if I invited you to join me, then ordered breakfast and start talking about all kinds of things that make me think you have already read the morning papers or at least watched the morning news reports on television. You finish your breakfast and then make a request that, 'now it's my turn to talk'. Well if that is what I wanted to do I would have been talking all along. Now why don't you take your bill and pay it and let me alone to finish my morning paper and then take my morning walk."
"Well, sweet cheeks, first thank you for the title 'Young Lady' even though I am only a part of that title, second I have seen you come in here every day for over six month and you have never in all that time, at least as far as I have seen, smiled nor acted like you were all that happy to even be alive. And then today when I saw that you were alone the big happy spirit inside of me told me to come over and to just see what you are so uptight about. Now, open up before I start to follow you around and make a pain of myself."
"I am happy with my life," I told her, "I took early retirement to get away from the pressures of work. I live my life as I want and do what I want when I want. I enjoy the solitude of walking and the silence of my home. So now you know. Will you now leave me alone?"
"No I won't," she said, "you are far too young to be acting like one of those old guys at the park feeding pigeons, bitching and moaning about the young people and the small kids that are playing and making all the racket. You, Mister Sweet Cheeks, are going to see that there is another more fun world out there. I know that every day when you leave here you go walking, rain or not. Well starting today I am going to walk with you and I want you to tell me what you see and what you enjoy about your walk. And if you tell me to go away I will but I'll be here the next day to start all over again."
She then stood, took her bill as well as mine and walked to the cashier and paid the bills. She came back, tossed a ten dollar bill down and said, "Sweet Cheeks I'll be outside waiting for you," and then walked out the front door. The waitress picked up the tip, looked out the window and turned to me saying, "If you don't go you know she'll just wait till you do leave and if you go out the back she'll just be here tomorrow. I've known her for over thirty years and she will not let go once she sets her mind to something."
"How old is she?" I asked.
"I'm not rightly sure but I think somewhere around sixty to sixty three".
I'm only fifty four and she looks ten times better than I do, I thought. Oh, well, I just might as well humor her and get it over with.
Over the next few weeks every day she was there when I went to breakfast. She would sit down and we would talk about the newspaper reports and the stories that were on the morning news shows. And each day when we left to go walking she would make sure that I decided on the route and we would talk about what we saw and what I felt about what we saw; she never give her opinion on anything, she just listened. I started to realize that my life was very self focused, not selfish but geared to protecting me from external influences.
The first of these revelations was that I didn't go near the high school when it was open on my walks. It was my way of not having to interact with children/teenagers. Next was the walk in the area where my old house was. I would wave to people that I had known but I would never stop and talk. Then there were the walks downtown, I would look in the windows and window shopped but even if I thought I saw something I needed or wanted I would wait till I got home and order it on line or call and have it delivered. The only real shopping I did was when I went to the supermarket and even then I went late in the day when most people were at home. The last and maybe most revealing fact was that I seemed to take the walk down to the ocean more times than any other and it was almost half the time. Walking at the beach and on the cliffs was solitude at its finest. The only living creatures were the sea gulls, a few pelicans now and then, but for the most part I was alone.
I was beginning to see that I really liked having her walk with me, I tried to get her to pick out places where she would like to walk and her reply always was "In Time".
It was a Thursday and we were walking downtown when she asked if we could stop at a little coffee/tea house and get something hot since it was a brisk morning. She waited at one of the outside tables and I went in an got an Earl Gray tea and a coffee. Coming out I saw that she was sitting with her arms down by her side and that her head was down. I sat down and looked at her very closely and that is when the earth shook and opened up, the sky grew dark and all around me became as black as night.
What was all that noise I wondered - the screams, the sounds of people whispering, the men giving orders telling people to move on, the voice of a woman on a radio - and who or what was holding my hands and arms down? I lifted my head up, looking around: where was she? Then the darkness over took me again
I was warm now; there was no smell, no talking, just a beep, beep, beep. I could feel air being blown very gently around my face, it was coming in from the mask that covered my face. Sleep came over me again.
A voice was calling me - it was her. How could that be? I saw her just sitting in the chair and she was gone; there was no life in her I could tell, it wasn't the first time I had seen death up close. But how could she be talking to me?
"Well, Sweet Cheeks, I guess I have finished what I came to do for you now, it's up to you to take the lessons and implement them into your NEW life. If you take care of yourself and eat right, not the way I did, I'll see you again but it shouldn't be for thirty or forty years. On this side there is no time, no day or night, just the present."
Waking up I heard, "Mister Walker, oh Mister Walker, I need you to sit up, there are people here that need to talk to you." I opened my eyes, ; it was dark outside, I could see from the window, I looked around and there were a couple of nurses, and a lady in brown with a star on her chest.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"James, if I can call you that," the woman with the star said, "I just have a few questions and then I'll let these ladies take care of you"
She gave me more information about what happened than I could give her. She told me that at the coffee bar I had fainted when I came out and found my lady friend had died, and that I had hit my head on one of the other tables and that is why I was still in the hospital for observation to make sure that there was no head trauma. She said that my lady friend had a massive heart attack and died almost instantly.
I was told that I would be released the next day and told to take it easy and to rest. Rest? Now how do I do that? My apartment is ten miles away and I don't think that a ten mile walk is "RESTING" but I'll figure that out later. I was very tired so I went back to sleep.
Friday morning my personal doctor as well as the doctor from the emergency room came in and pronounced me fit enough to go home and told me that my daughter was waiting down the hall to take me home.