I utterly forgot to pick up a prescription yesterday, but it was okay, it could wait till today but it couldn’t wait till tomorrow when I have an appointment and would be at the clinic anyway. An extra trip, but that’s life.
I bought birdseed in Los Gatos closer to noon than I usually go out in the sun in and was going to stop back at the house in between but somehow I found myself instead changing freeways and heading straight to the clinic from there. Not what I’d planned.
“Have you ever used our pharmacy before?” the new employee asked.
“Twenty-seven years,” I grinned back at him.
The med had not yet been filled, and so I sat down and pulled out my knitting. It was a two-stranded project and it took a moment to untangle the balls from where they’d rolled around and through.
And as I did so I was facing, slightly offset and from about eight feet away, a man who looked like–nah, it’s not, I decided. But maybe. I tried not to be too intrusive as I glanced his way.
He finally looked up from his phone and glanced in mine–and held my eyes in a suspended moment of, wait–are you…!?
Okay, yes, confirmed, it seemed, so I asked, “Are you Walt?”
“Yes!” He smiled and sat up a little straighter.
Delighted, I swept up my stuff and moved to a couple seats over from him. The place was not crowded.
He tried to reach out a hand to shake mine but the brief shadow across his face as he tried to move pleaded with me not to no matter how much he wanted to, so I smiled and leaned forward a moment instead in what I hoped conveyed it’s okay not to have to.
It had been so long. “How ARE you?!” he asked, and asked again, so I answered a bit more than I might have by simply saying, “There have been bumps along the way and, eh, threw out a colon that wasn’t doing anyone any good but I’m doing well, thanks. And how are *you*?”
“I don’t walk easily,” he half apologized, and I wondered whether it was a car accident or what, but clearly something major had happened. Let him say as much as he wanted to (or not), I felt; he was just reveling in the unexpected moment together and it was enough.
I asked after his kids; they were a toddler and baby last I’d seen them. We had been seated at a restaurant and by random chance he and his family had come in–it occurred to me thinking back on that that he’d never seen me walking with a cane before, wouldn’t have known about the speeder that hit me in ’00.
Twelve and fourteen now? “Cool!” I exclaimed, remembering how interesting kids are to talk to at those ages. He glowed in pride and I glowed for his pride. They’d been a long time coming for him.
I mentioned Parker and Hudson, and he laughed that it would be awhile before he had grandchildren. (But then, he’d started about twenty years later than we had and that was fine.)
They called his name, and he got up slowly, carefully, cautiously, not the fit ever-young man I remembered, but hey, he still has most of the color in his hair and look at mine.
He turned back from the counter when he was done and I called him back to me for one last thing I wanted to say: “When DEC imploded and Richard was job hunting, after he interviewed with you you called at the house to talk to him and he wasn’t home and you got me instead. I got off that phone thinking, I don’t know who. you. are. but I HOPE my husband goes to work for *you*.”
A warm, wide smile broke across his face and his whole body relaxed. “Thank you. You just made my whole day. Thank you! That was…a long time ago.”
Best. Boss. Ever. It was a great loss when he moved on to another job fifteen years ago. Walt is the best.
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