My gray Ford coupe looked a bit lonely waiting there all by itself, half in the light, half in the dark. Wasn't sure if I would feel better if the lot were empty or if there was some car lurking in the shadows. There were a handful of workers, sweeping, cleaning, readying the buses for the coming morning. I knew the lockers at the station were outside, situated in the brightest lights in the place, but as I started to pull the locker key from my pants' pocket, I thought it best to come back tomorrow in the busier part of the day. I just wasn't all that sure that there was not someone waiting there in the dark.
So I gave a good survey of the parking lot, pulled my keys out, felt for my gun that had been tucked away in the small of my back for so long that I often forgot that it was even there. But a check of its ready presence and my sense of security was restore. Then after fighting off the bugs that were swirling down form the security light, I unlocked the door, cranked the engine and drove off. And as far as I could tell, no one was watching and no one cared; I was hoping that no one even knew that I had been there and gone.
When I made it home, the lobby of Mallory Arms was hopping, well hopping for the Mallory Arms. The gents were playing five card stud, swapping poker chips back and forth, and going through a box of White Owl cigars. The ladies were filling three tables, two tables playing canasta and one playing Mahjong. No cigars here, just ash trays being filled with the ashes of filter cigarettes. They would wave as I walked in, but they knew I wasn't much for card night, or for that matter, any night of socializing.
The mailbox had not much of anything, my car insurance bill, a postcard from the vet saying that Boo MacKenzie was needing to get his shots, and a flyer about property in some place called Levittown. The elevator had the scent of a recent visit by Miss Sally and her White Shoulders perfume.
The hallway was empty except for a spider making a rather ambitious web on one of the milk glass sconces that provided some light for the hallway.
Boo was meowing before I even unlocked the door. That usually meant Boo was perturbed that his dinner was late. I thought, "Wait till he finds out that it is cat chow or nothing."
"Hey, Boo. Sorry I'm late, old boy."
He gave me a long, mournful, "Meow." But no rub on the leg, no patronizing purr, only a lift of the tail and a huffy stump over to the food bowl.
I gave him some chow, some milk, and half an Oscar Mayer wiener as my act of penance. For myself, well, for some reason, I opened a bottle of Cabernet that had been aging in my refrigerator since last Christmas.
Kicked off my shoes, stripped down to my shorts,went searching for a leftover cigar, but found none, then drifted over to the closet, pulled on the light string, and searched for that box of photos. For some reason, Boo knew I needed his advice, so he strolled. "Boo, you know I end up making myself miserable every time I pull down that box." I started to walk away once, but I came back. I made the long reach to the top shelf, grasped the box, took it down and sat to drink my wine and a measure of sadness.