I think Peter was the happiest I’d ever seen him after the mask was made. Before we embarked on our shopping spree I said that I heard a lot of people really dislike the process. He tried saying a single word but he just couldn’t say it. I handed him the iPad.
“Take your time. No rush. I’m not going anywhere.”
When Peter heard me say that he hugged me so strongly he lifted me right off the ground. It surprised me but I kind of liked it as well. It was nice to be held by someone who appreciated your company. Then Peter wrote one word on the iPad.
Then I told him what Dr. Willowby and I had talked about. Of being on “his” team and helping him through the tough times ahead. I asked him if he wanted me on the team. Suddenly he started stabbing at the iPad with a ferocity that I’d never seen before. What he wrote caught me totally off guard.
“When I was on that table all I thought of was you. Thinking of you kept me level headed and calm when all I really wanted to do was run. I want you on the team more than anybody else.”
He had done it. He got me teary-eyed. I suppose the feeling he gave me could be described as warm and fuzzy. But the feelings he had were not the romantic ones I thought he had. He needed me and he wanted me. And I was starting to need him. Scratch that. I needed and wanted his company. Every morning I looked forward to seeing him. To helping him. But most of all I wanted to be with him. When Peter saw I was teary-eyed he drew me close to his chest and hugged me. A gentle hug. One that’s nice warm and cozy. Just the kind I wanted to feel much more often.
In the backseat of the car was a copy of the interview. I’m not sure how he did it but he had correctly anticipated every question I would have asked. He even inserted some things I might have said. At the bottom was a handwritten note saying there was another copy back at the cottage for when we got back. The file was on a USB stick as well as the hard drive of his computer which was password protected. And for some reason, he included the password – “RumBleBott0m595”. And for him to tell me the password showed that he really trusted and cared about me. The computer and he are symbiotic. Neither of them can truly exist without the other. When I asked him how he made the interview sound like I was really there he stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and started tapping away on the keyboard of the iPad. So it really was no surprise that people started bumping into him and interrupting him. When he wrote anything he liked to get everything perfect, grammar, punctuation, the works. And his answer was long in coming. I pulled him toward a bench so he could sit down and type in relative peace. When he finally sat down his fingers ran over the keyboard.”
“I secretly wished that keyboard was me. Wait a minute. Did that come out of me? I don’t usually think things like that. But I had a feeling that a great number of things had changed or changing. Things we had just discovered, and things we had yet to.”
As we sat on the bench he finally finished his answer and handed the iPad to me. The answer took on a greater meaning than ever before. I was learning how Peter thought.
“I’ve studied what you’ve written and watched videos of you on YouTube. You seem to prefer very simple English as opposed to flowery college English. Two of your favorite phrases when asking a number of questions or when you’re doing an interview with someone are “Is that so” or “Could you please elaborate on that”. Sometimes you say “How so” when you’re asking a question. I also watched a video of you putting the mayor in a headlock. Not exactly your best journalistic moment. But I did notice something that I suspect you didn’t know about or haven’t seen. When you were being taken away by city hall security, yelling all manner of colorful comments at them, your colleagues wanted to know why the mayor refused to answer your question. A number of them even put forth the idea that answer could only lead to a scandal of some sort. The mayor clearly didn’t like your question or your friends coming to your defense.”
“I’ve heard many insults in my short life but I’ve never heard anybody refer to a security guard as a “Blue ribbon Nazi”. I don’t know why but I kind of like it. And I like you.”
I won’t say it caught me by surprise or anything like that, but I was surprised and embarrassed that videos of me yelling at the city hall guards existed. I was also surprised at how accurate he was. Now that I think of it I do like saying “How so?” and “Could you please elaborate on that” a great deal. So it was a little unnerving to discover that someone you’ve known for a relatively short space of time could know you so well. But I shouldn’t be surprised though. Writers are also observers of humanity. We mere mortals blunder through life without batting an eye. Writers notice things we take for granted. Peter then tried speaking.
“I want to do a couple of things and you want to try a get a new dress. How about we split up for a couple hours then meet back at the car. The one that’s currently being held hostage by those bandits.”
All of a sudden he started gurgling. Dr. Willowby warned me about this. He said there would come a time when his mouth would produce more saliva than his throat could deal with. And when that happened he had no choice but to spit. We were near a planter. We walked over to it where he could spit into it. It was also one those things he might have to get used to and might last the rest of his life. But before we went our separate ways he put his hand on the small of my back and maneuvered me into a dive shop where I was fitted for a wet suit and a twenty pound weight belt. Peter insisted on paying for that. He called it a thank you gift. I remembered watching Peter take his wetsuit off, and the tug of war he had with his. His bathing suit almost came off when he tried getting the pants off. So I bought a monokini so I wouldn’t have to worry about that. After that I went in search of a good dress store. When I walked in I told the woman behind the counter what I was looking for. She looked a bit like my aunt Heather. I estimated her age to be fifty-ish. I wanted the dress to be ruby-red and tight fitting in all the right places. A dress Peter would have a difficult time not looking at. She guessed that it would be Asian in theme. After I tried on the dress I asked the woman helping me with the purchase if there was really good but inexpensive hairdresser nearby.
“Oh goodness me dearie there’s one right next door”.
I may a journalist without standing at present, but I also have a masters degree in English. And if there’s one word I hate it’s “dearie”. And I hate being called “dearie” by anyone. Since Peter was going to get a really close haircut I wanted to show him I supported him. I’ve had shoulder-length hair most of my life but since Peter was about to have the battle of his life I wanted to let him know I was in his corner. I looked at different styles but all I knew was that I wanted a short pixie cut. When I walked in I explained to the woman who ran the salon what I was looking for.
“A very special friend, a man, has cancer and has to get a crew cut. I really care for this guy and I want to support him any way I can.” The woman holding the scissors put the scissors down.
“You really care for this guy don’t you honey?” Then she asked me to trust her as she reached for a razor. When I saw the razor my shoulders tensed up a bit. “Relax honey. I’ll do my best pixie cut.”
When she was finished my shoulder-length hair was gone. As I got out the chair I saw Peter walk past the salon. I ran after him. He pointed at my head.
“Your beautiful hair…you did this for me?”.
I put my head against his.”I can’t experience everything with you but I want to show you I’m in your corner. You’re not alone and I want to be with you.” Another hug. Only stronger and with deeper meaning.
He whispered “Thank you. I feel better already.” The woman who ran the salon stood outside to see Peter and me together. I turned around and gave her a thumbs up sign. Then I remembered I had forgotten to pay her. I dug into my purse only to discover my wallet was empty. I was horrified. She saw my expression and guessed what had happened. Peter pulled out his wallet and tried paying her. She walked up to Peter and said something truly wonderful.
“Put that back in your wallet young man and take good care of her. I think you’ll find she’s more than worth it. Now get better and scoot. That hug you gave her more than paid for the cut”.
When we got home I checked out my hair in the bathroom mirror. I kind of like it. I’ll get used to it. I think Peter likes it.
What do you think of my new do?
…still more to come