He takes the paperweight off of the pile of while-you-were-out pink slips. Jerry Schessinger, Bob White, Terry Mcgillicutty, Barry Horrowitz............ He sets the paper weight back down on top of Alex Boomhouser after hours of returning phone calls from his weekend in the woods. He opens his file cabinet and takes out his lunch box and opens it. He takes out a banana, a ham and cheese sandwich, a little bag of carrots, and a granola bar. He eats while watching his Microsoft screensaver change photos from a mountain range to a forest then to the earth taken from astronauts on the moon. He drops a bit of mustard on his tie and wipes it with the kerchief in his blazer breast pocket.
After lunch, John puts away the lunchbox and wipes off his desk and brushes crumbs off of his slacks. He spins his chair around and takes a look out of his high rise office window onto the city of New York. He watches a woman run through Central Park and she appears to be shouting or singing while she runs. He sees an old man that has the appearance of his late father buying a hot dog. He grins when the guy hands the dog back and it returns a little more yellow. He looks for a moment at the bum by the fountain talking to himself and asking people for things. He looks away because bums disgust him.
There was something about those woods that was throwing him off. He couldn't concentrate. He didn't do anything really exciting while he was there. He just sat on the wooden chair on the little porch and watched birds feed their kids and mosquitos suck out his blood.
But right now, he can only think about the way the wind felt on his face just before that huge storm blew in over the weekend. He could only see the leaves blow right off of their branches and stick to his face.
He swivels his chair back around and picks up the paperweight. Mr. Boomhauser gets a return call. "Mr. Boomhauser, this is John Danks giving you a call back. Sorry I missed you, what can I do for you?" "Call me Boomer John, only my mother in law adds the hauser, but she's a nasty old bird," says Boomer. "You rented a cabin from me last weekend," he says. "Yeah?" says John. "You left your things here. Seems like all of your things. You left your phone, a full suitcase of clothes, and your toothbrush," Boomer says. John looks at the picture of the Grand Canyon on his computer screen and tries to remember packing his bags to leave the cabin. He can't. "Geez Mr. Boom.....Boomer, I don't know what happened, can you send them to me?" he asks. Boomer tells him, "Sorry buddy, no post office around here. Your gonna have to come and get them. No hurry though, got no one on the books for the cabin." "Ok, I'll be there next weekend. Sorry again, I don't know what happened," says John.
They hang up and John sits bewildered. Did he even remember grabbing his keys and driving home? How did he not take his things, especially his phone. He has never forgotten his phone. John shakes off the confusion and grabs the next little pink slip of paper. Andrea Porter's phone rings her at her desk. She answers, "Andrea, Vandersloot communications, how can I help you?" "This is John Danks, Danks something or other incorporated? Maybe Danks people pusher company? What do I do? Where do I work?" John shakes his head as if trying to clear the confusion, but he can't. Where do I work? "Hello? John? This is Andrea Porter, I called because I wanted to change my shipment information. We've had a snag in our supplier.."Wait! Just wait," says John. "Who do I work for?" She says, "McMillon, Shister, and Pollup, why?" "Oh...." John sits there as Andrea talks on and on about orders and shipments and invoices. John looks at his computer screen and sees a picture of a volcano erupting and for some reason starts thinking about the trees up north swaying back and forth. He blanked out for a moment then says, "I gotta go Andrea, I forgot my suitcase."
John hangs up abruptly and takes the stairs down 49 floors to the lobby and out the front door. He runs to the curb of the street looking for a cab that isn't there. He waits and waits getting even more confused that there are no cabs in New York right now. He sits down on the ledge of the fountain when he noticed his aching legs. He sits down right next to Old Tom Crow from the Old Time Medicine Show, at least that was how he introduced himself. John knew exactly who he was. That bum that asks and never gives. He sat looking forward for a cab while Old Tom Crow talked about trains and ex-wives. He would keep giving John excuses for why he was so dirty that made John grin a few times. "I was playing football in the park with my billionaire friends and got blindsided by the former New York Jets linebacker Rogers Alexander," he would tell John. John just half listened and half shouted obscenities in his head waiting for a cab to save him from this guy.
Old Tom Crow grabbed John's arm insistently. John was shocked out of his daze and actually made eye contact. He looked right through the man. He had the most beautiful blue eyes hidden behind all of that dirt. Tom told him, "The wind will only blow when you allow it." John sat stunned as a cab pulled to the corner. Tom then said, "The missiles will drop from Antartica because they are due north and we are due south without a paddle."
He got up and looked at Tom one more time and got into the cab. He watched the hot dog man give an old Jewish man a hot dog and then refuse the man's money, waving his hand to the Jewish guy and smiling. We kept driving for a minute before he heard the driver asking in a loud voice, "Where to!" John told him...,"Upstate."
He got out of the cab and paid the man. He was sure this was the address of the place he had stayed. He had it memorized...1900 Wilderness Road. This was where he was. Right? There was only a small tent in the place he had stayed in a log cabin. He didn't understand what was happening, but he saw that old wooden chair and let the cab go home with the rest of his cash.
He walked around and the place was familiar, but not a perfect replica of last weekend. The trees were the same and the fire pit still held the partially burnt whiskey bottle he threw in it. The cabin was gone and his things were not in the tent. He found only a pillow and sleeping bag, some canned beans and opener, and a note from Old Tom Crow. He said, "Let it in."
So he did.
He had nothing on him. He fished for food and actually caught a squirrel in a snare he had learned to make from Bear Grylls. He forgot about missed messages for a moment and just sat in that chair and let the wind pass over him for a while. Maybe for just a few minutes, John could get some peace. He closed his eyes and all at once remembered what he had forgotten. He had forgotten his wife.
She was dead.
He remembered that she had died a few months ago maybe in the city while being mugged. "How could he forget?" he thought. His stomach dropped and he remembered the terror of that night and the tears at her funeral. All of the sudden, John remembered he had lost everything and he damned the fire to hell. He damned the leaves and the wind. May the entire world suffer the fruits of the devil himself. John began to scream and rock on that rocking chair. He shouted awful things and shook his fists into the air. He cursed the day he was born and threw punches into the air. He wore himself out with grief. It may have taken hours, but John was now exhausted and began to cry.
He cried the rest of his energy out and laid his head to his knees... then silence. A few minutes later the wind began to blow. It threw the leaves all over and onto his face. It made the leaves dance and struggle to hold on to their branches. The wind blew the rocking chair backward and forward again. John remembered the cabin as if it were that tent. All of the sudden it all made sense. He met her here.
They met at camp in this cabin. He was shy and awkward and she was broken and starving for someone to love her. She approached him. He had never been approached by a girl so pretty. They would date, then marry, then be separated by death.
The tent. It was all he had left. It reminded him that there was once a cabin here and for at least a moment, he was the king of that little wooden shack.
John realized that life was still beautiful. She wasn't gone completely. She was all around him in her own way. He just needed to let the wind blow around him. He closed his eyes and let her breathe on his face.
John remembered what he had always chosen to forget.
Thanks for reading...Z