“How did a nice New York City boy like you end up here?” He held out his arms to indicated the entire city.
“Car trouble.” I told him my tale.
We were laughing when we got back to the waiting room. Angie was the only one awake. Her sisters were curled up on couches using our jackets as pillows. Steve wanted a smoke and we really needed to get outside, but didn’t want to wake them. It wasn’t all that cold out, the sun was warm, so we were fine in our sweaters and flannels.
We had to walk off hospital property to a secluded smoking area at the back of a shopping center next door. The banished smokers huddled together under a side-less canopy, shivering in the shade. We opted for standing in the sun. As Steve smoked, we chatted with the men and women on their breaks. One woman looked fairly familiar. It took me a minute to realize it was Miss Parker, the teacher.
“I didn’t know you worked here,” I said, when she invited me to sit down.
“Part time on weekends and school holidays. I’m also a C.N.A., but I’m working on my nursing degree.”
“Why teach then?”
“It pays better than this, but this gives me a foot in the door when I have my R.N.”
I nodded agreeing that made sense.
“I’m pulling as much overtime as I can. I just lost my apartment.”
“No kidding? I’m sorry to hear that. You got a place to stay?”
“Yes, I’m staying with a friend. It’s okay.” She paused, not quite looking at me. “I want to thank you again for driving us on the field trip. The kids like you and they always behave better when you’re around.”
I laughed, finding that ironic. “I was always the cut up,” I told her. “If it was there to get in trouble over, I was the one in the middle of it. I got to be known as the Instigator. Teachers trembled in their shoes when they got me in class.”
“You look like a trouble maker,” she teased. “It’s all over your face.”
I rubbed my palms vigorously against my skin. “Dammit, Steve! You’re supposed to tell me things like that!”
“I wanted to see their reaction,” he drawled, playing along. His phone rang before he could say anything more. “It’s Ang.” He took a step away from the table. “Hey, baby. What’s up?”
I couldn’t hear the rest of the conversation, but he was smiling when he came back.
“Molly’s in recovery. Surgery went very well. Doc suggests taking the ladies to lunch and coming back later. Molly should be waking up by then.”
“Great! You want to call Polly or should I?”
“Why don’t you? I need another smoke before I go back in. I swear, I’m trying to quit. Then shit like this happens and I stress. Molly’s like my mom too,” he confessed. “And I’m having to be Mr. Backbone. Thanks, Mike. You can’t imagine how much easier it is having you to share this with.”
“No problem. No place else I’d rather be.”
He shook my hand, smiling knowingly. “Yeah, there is, but not worth mentioning.”
“Hell, dude,” I whispered. “She wore me out last night. I’m gonna need a nap!”
“Call Polly,” he admonished, realizing that the others could hear us.
I noticed Miss Parker looked disappointed. It suddenly struck me that one reason she asked me to drive the bus was she had kind of a crush on me. Shit! Way to put your foot right up your ass, Mike.
I called Molly’s house and Sarena answered. “Polly’s nursing the baby,” she said quietly. “Our folks went shopping for cooking utensils. I couldn’t quite face the two of everything shopping trip, so I stayed here. What’s up?”
I gave her the update, which she passed on to Polly and Jesse. I heard the front door open and close as she walked outside.
“Now we have a moment alone. I’ve missed you.”
“Me too,” I murmured, stepping further away from the canopy and its occupants. “I can’t wait to get back home and see you.”
“I know, but we have obligations. . . .”
“Unfortunately. I’d talk dirty to ya, but there are others around.”
“You don’t want to have a boner with an audience, is that it?”
© Dellani Oakes 2014