(I’ve caused so much damage in the past. It’s come back to haunt me, no TERRORIZE me. Along with unforeseen events. Some things you can’t foresee, right? I know God is punishing me and not letting me move forward, for his own reasons I’m sure. And it’s pressing down and crushing me- I can’t get ahead.)
He took his now laundered Chambray shirts and receipt from the dry cleaner, and walked out to where Claudia waited in the car. She’d insisted on keeping it running, for the heat to fight the relentless cold, and to listen to her program on the radio. He’d encouraged her to come in with him.
He thought it’d be nice to do more mundane things with her.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. He got in behind the wheel. “Why are you muttering?”
“Cause God is throwing everything at me at once,” he turned the key. “Without any warning too. It’s just one devastating blow after another. Even now, this dry cleaner guy says I didn’t leave the Lands End shirt. I know I did.”
She lit and handed him a cigarette. “Here, relax Vinny. It’ll all turn out fine. Come on you just gotta hang in there now. Can you?”
Vinny took the cigarette and started down the street.
Claudia settled back in the passenger seat. This poor guy can’t get a break. One step forward, then two debilitating steps back. How could it not break your heart? And it’s been going on for so long- he’s been through so much. His truth is much stranger than fiction.
And still incapacitates him.
Vinny made a left on Water Street and pulled into a handicapped parking spot in front of the Artful Oven bakery. Claudia had to pick up the desserts for the church potluck tomorrow night.
“Ill just be a minute,” she said, looking at him and searching his face. “You okay?”
“I wanna come with you.”
“Yes, then come with me.”
They got out of the car and proceeded up the steps into the store.
The chimes rang on the front door to the warm and toasty, fresh-baked goods aroma. “Gotta love how a bakery smells, no?” She tried to keep the energy light.
(He’s anxious. He needs comforting.) “Vinnie, they have samples up there, let’s go taste some cake.”
They walked up to the counter where there was a wide array of different cakes and pies and cupcakes and tarts for any occasion. She picked up a sample of devil’s food cake with cream cheese icing and put it in her mouth, looking at him with enthusiasm and encouragement, motioning for him to join in.
(She still doesn’t understand how hard it is. She doesn’t know my agony, my paralyzation. She doesn’t see it’s all impossible. How could she?)
“Okay I’ll try something,” he said. He looked at the selection and tentatively picked up a piece of key lime pie, and put it on a napkin. “I know you’re just trying to cheer me up. This isn’t gonna cheer me up.”
She saw turmoil in his eyes and felt it in his shaky voice.
“What do you mean cheer you up Vinny? Can’t you see that what you deal with everybody deals with too? It’s normal.” Her voice is so soothing. “You know honey, I’m sorry you feel bad, but do you think you can put things behind you?”
Vinny swallowed the last of his pie and smiled. “Nah.”