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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 44: Takano 27
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Johnny Angel was as good as his word, piling them into his blue-and-white four-door and taking them over the bridge to the train station where Peg had left her car. Tommy sat in the front and commented quietly to Johnny that she missed seatbelts, to which he smiled and nodded. “The good news is,” he said, “if you go through the windshield you’ll probably land in another world.” He refused her offer to pay the bridge toll, which she realized was a pittance, less than a tenth of what she remembered. He also refused gas money. “Have you seen the price of gas?” he said. “Even in a guzzler like this it costs nothing to fill it.”
Peg said, “If you’re giving away gas money, I’ll take some,” and Tommy laughed and handed her a couple dollars, but realized that at this point her conversation with Johnny would have to avoid subjects that would suggest they weren’t from around here.
He gave her a phone number, but said, “Remember, that’s a toll call, and it will show up on your bill. But if you need anything, call. I’m usually home during the day, which is kind of too bad since the toll rates are better at night.”
Peg delivered her to the Billings’ a bit after midnight. As she expected, the back door was unlocked, and she let herself in. Mister Billings was sitting at the kitchen table nursing a can of beer with some crackers with cheese melted on it.
“Welcome home,” he said. “Good night?”
“Oh, yes,” she answered. “Turns out the famous drummer used to live in my town, and we talked a bit about home after the show. He gave us a ride back to Camden, where Peg had parked her car.”
He nodded. “Cheese and crackers? I can get you a soda or something from the fridge.”
“Don’t get up,” she said. “I’ll get it. And yes, thank you.” She got a can of ginger ale and as she returned to sit at the table he pushed over to her a napkin on which were a few crackers with cheese melted on them. “I hope you didn’t wait up for me,” she said.
“Oh, not a problem. I often stay up late to catch The Tonight Show on Fridays. Anyway, I expect this is something I will have to get used to in a decade or so. I do have a daughter. By the time she’s your age she’s going to be trying to stay out later than I like, and I’m going to be waiting for her to come home. Might as well get used to it now.”
“Ah, but you didn’t give me a curfew. That makes a difference.”
“True. And you didn’t abuse it--ten after midnight on a Friday night for a trip to the city, I’m not sure we could get back that early. But just so you know, when we ask you to babysit one of these nights so we can go out, don’t complain about how late we are.”
She laughed. “I won’t. Thanks.”
“Oh, for everything. Making me feel at home here, giving me the job. And for the crackers.”
“Certainly. Well, I’m headed for bed. I get to sleep in on Saturdays, but Missus Billings expects me to be up and working around the house. I’ll try not to wake you.”
With that he headed upstairs leaving Tommy alone in the kitchen. She cleaned up her place and wiped down the table, then went up to her room to get some sleep herself.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #367: Versers Encounter. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: