“I’ll give you a ride,” she said to him as he emerged.
“Thanks, but I can walk,” he replied.
“Are you still planning on selling the market?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Then I’m going to drive you,” she said in a manner that didn’t invite discussion.
They got into her car and she pulled out onto the road.
“So, we have enough time for you to tell me just what happened back there?”
“Well, I just pointed out to Andrew that his life was over, even if I couldn’t get him convicted for Eden’s death. The only thing that would keep me from that was Walter White’s protection and he wouldn’t have that if Walter found out he was cheating on his daughter. Andrew’s no dummy, I’ll give him that much.”
“So how come he got arrested in the first place?”
“You have the excellent detective work of Tommy Allen to thank for that, on his day off no less.”
She came to a stop at the intersection of Seagrove Road and County Road Thirty-A.
“Thanks for the ride,” he said unbuckling his seatbelt, “and for everything else too.”
“Don’t thank me yet, your ride’s not over yet Slick,” she said as she pushed the automatic door lock button and accelerated around the corner.
“Where are you taking me?”
“You could call it an intervention.”
She headed towards Grayton Beach ignoring his questions. Before she even had to tell him to shut up once they were in front of Bobby Thomas’ bungalow.
“Get out,” was all she said.
He looked up at Bobby’s house and then back at her. She just stared straight ahead as if she were still driving. He sat there with a confused look on his face then got out of the car.
She sped off and he walked up to the porch. He could hear Bobby playing guitar around back so he walked through the house as was expected around there. He opened the back porch door and called out Bobby’s name.
“Jacob, c’mon out here,” Bobby said stopping his playing. “What’s going on man?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“Oh, you know, you’ve had a rough morning. I figured you could use a cold beer and a friend’s ear.”
“Guess so. You want one too?”
“Is it after noon?”
“It is almost two o’clock in the p.m. on a beautiful weekend day.”
He smiled and opened the small refrigerator Bobby kept in a closet off the back porch. He grabbed two bottles and handed one to Bobby.
“So, what about this intervention Shelia mentioned? If it’s about my drinking you’ve got a helluva way of starting out.”
“Son, that’s not my place to tell a man he’s been drinking too much. I’m worried about the market.”
“What about it?”
“Shelia called a little while ago and told me you were planning on selling it.”
“Make me an offer,” Jake said.
“OK, how about you keep the store and I’ll start buying that overpriced wine you stock.”
“Nah, I’m getting out of the beach business.”
“I’m not really that good at it anymore, been arrested twice in as many days for minding other people’s business. I figure it’s time for me to start minding my own.”
“You know, when Tina was just a pup, I’d take her out several times a day to do her business, because I was always afraid she’d let loose on my floor and I didn’t really want to live in Hoss’s world,” Bobby started up out of the clear blue. “So one day we’re out, and she’s just a pup, a really stupid dog. She can’t walk right, doesn’t know what she should or shouldn’t eat, you know what I mean. So anyway I’m watching her walk around, waiting for her to pee, hoping she’ll finish soon so that I can get back to the station and all of a sudden she starts sniffing around. She’s sniffing, and her tail goes straight up and starts wagging wild. And she’s tracking the whole yard as she does it. And this look comes over her face: she’s like ‘Holy Kanopka, I can smell really good.’ I come to find out that dogs can smell about a thousand times better than a human can. I guess that’s why they like to sniff each other where they do. But that still don’t make it right to me, you understand.”
The words just trailed out of Bobby’s lips and were replaced by a slow wide grin across his face. Jake looked up at him, wondering if this was going somewhere or just a lazy afternoon rambling that so many people of the Florida Panhandle considered philosophizing.
Bobby continued, “I saw as a human that this was another living creature that had seen it’s ability. I thought what is it that people have that is comparable to that?” Bobby looked down at his beer bottle. It was empty except for the backwash that no one ever drank, the last sip that just ended up being tossed away with the useless brown bottle. He threw the bottle towards a trashcan he set up on his porch for these special occasions. He continued, “then it suddenly hit me that the real leveling factor that brings all people together is that we have a really remarkable sense of communication. But despite our ability to communicate, if we are going to survive, we are going to need a little more umph. That’s how I justify my playing late nights as bad as my music might seem.”
“So what’s your point?” Jake asked confused.
“You think you were doing Carl’s work running that place. But it really was your work all along. The only thing I can see you missing is someone to share it with.”
Jake sat, sipped his beer and staring at the dog. In a perfect world Bobby was right, but as anyone knows ours is far from perfect. As he saw it he had been close to paradise all his life. But to someone who lives in paradise, it’s hard to see what you have.
“You suggesting I take a mail-order bride from Russia?”
“I suggest you walk down to the High Tide.”
“Ok, now I’m really confused. Dogs sniffing each other’s butts, having more umph to survive and walking to the High Tide? Why do I need to go there?”
“Because there’s someone for you there.”
“Now,” Bobby answered and picked up his guitar. He started playing a song mixing finished verses with humms for the parts he hadn’t worked out yet. Jake, seeing that Bobby was finished talking to him, got up and left.
He walked the two blocks to the High Tide in a slow shuffle, but entering the door it hit him like a bull on speed. Sitting at the bar, her back towards him was Debbie Baylor. He walked up behind her and touched her arm.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Recognizing his voice she said over her shoulder, “They let you out already?”
“Charges dropped, mistaken identity. Don’t worry though, they finally got the right guy.”
She stood up from her stool and faced him.
“I’m leaving. This must have been some kind of bad joke of Bobby’s. He told me to meet him here to say goodbye. Since he sent you, I’ll tell you. Goodbye Jake.”
“You want to give me another chance?”
“Another chance at what? I don’t know if you can’t connect with anyone or if it’s just that you can’t connect with me but I do know I’m not interested in watching a good man implode on grief and hate.” She spoke looking into his eyes, not pleading but searching for one last time. It turned out to be the first time she saw he was really looking back.
“Wait. For thirty-eight years my heart has been lukewarm. It’s been with me since birth, but never really used. You turned it on.”
“I didn’t turn it on, Jake. Eden did. I am kind of glad I was here when it happened.”
“You’re wrong, Debbie. Nothing mattered before you. In a lot of ways my job was my life but then you came,” he stopped and smiled. “You gave me more umph. All of this crazy stuff that I’ve done started with you. It started because of you and my life is better for it.”
“So, what are you not saying Jake Burns?”
“What do you think I can save you or something?” she asked in an awkward way.
“Please and thank you.”
He reached out and knotted his fingers in hers.
Then they kissed, proving that great big things can happen anywhere, even on a little county road.
GIMME SOME FEEDBACK
RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS