Nothing, Nothing At All

by Peter J Stevens

"Rachel ... Rachel, is that you?"

A strikingly attractive brunette stopped dead in her tracks. She preferred her middle name and only one person knew her as Rachel.

After a moment, "Will! Is that, can't be. I haven't seen you ..."

"Since high school. And I still dislike Will, just as you prefer Monro."

"I now spell it with an E - more professional. But you always preferred the informal Bill to William. A carry over, I think, of the Carter years," she said with a laugh.

"What brings you to D.C.?" they both said as one. "Sorry, you first," each repeating the earlier faux paux.

"Well," said Monroe, "I got married during undergrad and it wasn't too bad for a while. We got divorced and I used my share of the settlement to go to law school. I then worked for this partnership that consults with some big name corps. But I finally realized that they were using my looks to attract clients, and, I would never be accepted as my own person, or become a partner. So I applied to the Clinton camp when he got elected and was brought aboard to interface the administration with the business world. How about you, Bill?"

"Nothing quite so glamorous, I'm afraid. I've recently moved to Baltimore where I'm employed as a data processing mainframe consultant How about letting me buy you a drink while we catch up?"

A few minutes later they were settled at a table. After what seems like only a few minutes they each had consumed three drinks and were into the personal aspects of their lives.

"Oh damn, I got to run. I have to meet with the project manager before I can call it a day. Look Rach, its Thursday, as I remember, you love riding your 10 speed. Let me take you to the nature reserves in Jersey. We'll have dinner in Cape May and catch the ferry to Lewes Saturday evening. I'll have you home before you turn into a pumpkin."

"I'd love to, I really would, but I do have plans for Saturday. I'll let you know how it turns out next week, if I can have a raincheck. Tell you what, if its OK with you, I'll meet you outside for lunch Monday. Where are we? Seventeenth and ... no, eighteenth and, ah, let's see, 'R' streets. OK?"

"It's a date, let me have your number, just in case?"

"Not just yet. Sorry, an old habit." She said apologetically while blushing. She really did want to give it to him but this was not the time. What if he were to call before she could explain. "Look, I've got to hit the ladies' room before I head home."

As she reached in her purse for her portion of the fare, he stopped her. He took her in his arms and kissed her. For a moment, the world was as God had designed it to be. Without thinking, Rachel began to kiss him back, then caught herself. She straightened herself and then, with a slight backward glance, headed for the ladies room.

Will stood there and then put enough money on the table to cover the tab and a tip. He wasn't sure if he should wait or head back to the office. He decided that he really did need to be on his way and headed out the door. The bright light of the sun stabbed his eyes but he was able to hail a cab and was gone.

Rachel sat in the stall for some time. The wine had affected her more then she had realized. She felt slightly dizzy but not enough to be concerned. What was bothering her was that she had been living with someone for almost a year. She hadn't felt good about it for sometime and this weekend she was planning to move out - after telling/arguing with him about it.

Rachel stood up and straightened her clothes. She washed her face and hands and then headed back out to the table to say good-bye. She walked out into the lounge and, realizing Will had left, she walked out into the evening air. She recognized her bus across the street so she picked her pace up to a brisk walk.

The memories of a year ago flooded her conscienceness. The thoughts of her summer romance were good, and when Howard suggested a trip to the Pocono Mountains, it sounded so romantic. She was thinking of the first chill, the crispness in the air; she was thinking of the the taste of champagne, the aroma of wood smoke from the fireplace and the coziness of his body beside hers as they lay in bed under weight of the blankets. She was remembering the last sailboat ride as she began to cross the street.

She was used to city life, and she would have heard the car before she would have seen it, but her mind was cloudy and lost in smoke. She was dead before the crowd could gather around her or an off-duty nurse could begin to try to resuscitate her. The car never stopped, it turned out to have stolen and was abandoned only two blocks away.

Will left the presentation where he had been drawing on a black board. He wanted to arrive early to be sure not to miss her. He waited patiently, shuffling back and forth and reviewing his notes for the afternoon. Minutes passed like hours; the hour was a life time. Eventually, he had to get back. But how could he get a message to her? He waited a little longer. Finally he reached in his pocket and discovered a piece of chalk.

"What else can I do?", he thought to himself. He bent over and began to write on the sidewalk. In letters six inches tall, he wrote a note big enough so that she would not miss it.

Rachel, how did Saturday night turn out? Sorry I left without saying bye. I am still looking forward to biking with you some time soon.

The note stretched for more than twelve feet. The same crowd gathered around him that had gathered around Rachel five days earlier. He finally stood up and reread what he had written.

"So what did you expect?", he said to himself in disgust! He got in a cab and was off.

Pedestrians hardly noticed the message that afternoon. That evening a light rain began to fall breaking the weight of the Bermuda high that was sucking the energy from the inhabitants. The message melted with each rain drop and the damp night engulfed the city. The following morning the sun was bright and the air almost sparkled, cleaned by the cleansing shower.

And the sidewalk, the sidewalk was clean, as if nothing had happened. Nothing at all.

Return to Port Of Call Home Page
Return to October/November 98 Table of Contents