illustrated by roy dismas
click here for part one
"he realized he had been walking blind through a garden of infinite delights" - paul de saint-girard, "les reverberes de marseilles"
pale afternoon light barely made it through the windows of the wendy's on the outskirts of town.
outside, the occasional rumbling and grinding of a big rig interrupted the steady whoosh of vehicles on the interstate.
bob sat by himself in the back, sipping his cup of still lukewarm coffee. a tray with a couple of napkins stared up at him. with only a few crumbs and small spots of grease on the napkins - the remains of two bacon deluxe doubles with fries.
it was the afternoon of the second day of the rest of his life. bob's brain was ready to burst with excitement.
once again - to bob's now somewhat diminishing amazement - neither the woman behind the counter or any of the customers had shown a flicker of surprise or contempt when he made his large order.
bob felt a slight twinge in his stomach. nothing to worry about, he told himself quickly - nothing to get in the way of ecstasy. his course was set - he would let nothing get in his way. no more fear! no more caving in to social prejudice!
still, a few flashes of bitterness could not help but flash through his brain - as he thought of all the lost years of tofu and salads and granola. what a fool he had been, what a blind fool!
but there was no time for looking back - only forward. he pushed up out of the chair - another twinge - maybe he had eaten the two bacon deluxe doubles a little too quickly - and went outside and got in his car.
there was an arby's roast beef directly across the wendy's on the other side of the entrance to the interstate. he was tempted for a moment to just go around the rotary to it. no, he thought, somebody might notice me and wonder -
he knew he shouldn't care if anybody did wonder about anything he did. but he couldn't change the way he was - why bother trying, with six weeks to live?
but maybe some state troopers or fbi agents would notice him going to establishments right next to each other and think he was a bank robber or terrorist planning a job and getting to know the territory! no, better to just be on his way and follow the schedule he had carefully mapped out that morning after a surprisingly good sleep.
next stop - a popeyes fried chicken about five miles away, over the county line. the "catfish meal" sounded like a good change of pace. and he would be hungry after the drive.
he turned on the smooth jazz station - the one he usually listened to - and eased his car - a navy blue 2006 hyundai tiburon he had bought with 24,000 miles on it - onto the interstate.
about halfway to the next exit traffic began to back up and then slowed down to a crawl. an accident? probably, but bob didn't bother to switch to the traffic and weather station. he was content - content to listen to kenny g and george winston as a few raindrops began to fall on the windshield.
his cell phone throbbed in his pocket. probably his old job, offering "counseling" again. thank you very much, but no thanks, he had other priorities - like some kfc double down chicken sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy.
he waited for it to go to message, then picked up. it was the job, but instead of counseling, it was some garbage about his 401k. he had never paid any attention to that stuff when he was going to live to be 100. he put the phone back in his pocket. the line was moving a little and a horn sounded behind him.
impatience! for what? bob wondered how many of his fellow riders on the highway of life were going nowhere, as he had been until the day before yesterday. "walking blind through a garden of infinite delights"