The train violently bumped up and down across the train tracks, clicking, clacking. Rain tapped on the windows and pelted the top of the train. Passengers on the train added their own noise, with wailing children, tapping fingers upon keyboards, conversations between friends and cell phones ringing. All too much for my delicate ears. My head rested upon Louis’s shoulder as I fiddled with the zipper on his jacket. It’s been two days since we left, a Monday. It was about 8:30 in the morning, and no call so far from the parents, so my guess is that they just don’t care. Who would have guessed?
I looked out the window at the passing scenery; deep in the city, fleeting by cars, skyscrapers, bums, and business men, racing to their jobs.
It seems like a horrible life, being a business man; always working below someone. Especially when you start. You are the coffee guy, the copying guy, the faxing guy, the note-taking guy, the work-no-one-else-wants-to-do guy. You’re just a ‘Welcome’ mat, everyone stepping all over you. But, hopefully, if you haven’t broken down and quit yet, you move up. Then you are the one who works on the computer, doing all of the systems stuff, but everyone gives you all the projects and assignments that they don’t want to and sometimes get their butts kicked because they couldn’t finish them by the due date, yet once again, you will move up in the industry and soon be one of those bigger guys, who piled on the project. You feel big and strong, so you pile some of your projects on the little guys you once used to be. But then you get stuck having to lead a board meeting with all of the other big guys you work with and some of the big bosses asking questions that you probably will have to make up answers for. Soon enough, you’re either fired because the advice you gave was wrong and ruined the careers of the ones you gave it to, or you move up because some of the advice you gave was correct and they think you’re a strong-willed employee. So now your one of those big bosses and you get to make the lower men feel sick to their stomach and fall to their knees before you. Basically, that’s as far as you’ll get, other wise you’ll be running the company.
Wow, I’m sorry. That was way off topic.
The train jolts to a stop and Louis wakes up suddenly, moving to look out the window and my head drops to the arms rest.
“Thanks.” I say groggily. “You’ve been out for a while, you know.”
“Yeah, I know. You know where we are, Maye?”
“Nah, I’ve been trying to sleep. ‘S not my fault these people are loud, obnoxious freaks with nothing better to do than keep me up.”
“The whole world doesn’t have something against you, Maye.” Louis said bitterly.
“Yeah, I know.” I frowned. “I was just kidding around.”
Louis’s gaze was intense. His eyes didn’t dart from thing to thing, as mine had, but they stayed solely on one object, but I didn’t know what.
“Louis, what are you looking at?”
“We have to get off at the next stop.”
“Why? Are we somewhere where we can stay?”
He didn’t say anything for a while. “Yeah.”
“This is stupid.” I slumped down in my seat.
“Pardon me?” he turned to me. He looked more surprised than angry.
“This is so stupid.” I looked him strait in those big blue eyes of his. “Why did you ask me to come?” I looked away. “I shouldn’t have come.” I looked at him again. ”If you’re just gonna mope around, silent and secretive and treat me like a baby, not letting me know one damn thing, I think I should just go home. I’ll just leave you here if you really want.”
Louis looked away from me and stared out at the world. He was silent for a while until he finally mumbled, “I’m sorry. I…understand why you’re upset.”
“Yeah. My mom did that to me all the time. She would leave me out of everything and I would get real upset. She would tell me that ‘I was just a child’ and that ‘I wouldn’t understand’. Well I understood alright. I understood that she got caught. She was charged for possession.”
“Ah, it’s alright. It’s my mom who should really be apologizing. Making my life a living hell.”
It was so hard to keep up with what Louis was saying. Whatever he was keeping inside must’ve really been killing him.
“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s alright. It’s your business and I can just wait. I’ll be patient.”
“I’ll…let you know. It’s okay, Maye. I was only being secretive about it because, well, it’s kinda just a sore subject.”
“What is it?”
Louis grimaced, “We’re going to crash with my dad.”
* * * * * * * *
Louis and I walked down a dusty road, holding hands, next to a field of cows. We ended up in the country at the next stop, and I was really not in the mood to get my nice black boots all dusty, and I really didn’t enjoy the dust flying up my skirt.
It was a little hot, the sun shining down on me intensely. But Louis told me that we would be there soon.
As we walked, our joined arms swung back and forward and I questioned him, harder than I intended.
“So, how long ago was it since you last saw your dad?”
“Hmm…” Louis thought, “Jim and I haven’t seen each other in a while.”
“But he’s called you, right?”
“Yeah. Jim calls me usually once a month. Twice, when it’s September. He calls once and then on my birthday too, but sometimes he’s just neglectful and only calls once, on my birthday.”
“Oh, all right. Do you have any other form of contact?”
“Eh...no. No, it’s not really a touchy-feely relationship.” Louis smiled at himself and gave a little chuckle. “In fact, I don’t think the Jim has ever told anyone he has a son.”
“Don’t sweat it.” He shook his head. “Jim left when I was, like, 4. So, I really never knew him. Mom said he was a real creep anyway. He definitely proved that to me.”
“Oh. I’m really sorry.”
Louis laughed again. “There is no need to feel bad for me. I’m really don’t care.” His smile turned down into a sad stare at the dusty road. “Just beyond this turn and we’re there.”
After we turned I squinted to see what Louis’s father lived in, but all I saw was a big black blur. “Is that it?”
Louis looked up and squinted as well. “Yeah. Huh. Farther than I remembered. Ah, well. Just keep walking.”
We walked in silence, and Louis’s father’s house seemed to creep towards us slowly, making the heat seem to intensify even more.
“Does...well, I mean, maybe your...does your dad...uh, know we’re staying with him?”
Louis stared forward for a while. “Uh, no. No he doesn’t.”
Louis kept his gaze forward, “You’re afraid he won’t let us stay and we won’t have anywhere to go for tonight.”
I was silent for a long time. “Yeah.”
“If he won’t let us crash...we’ll just take the next bus out of town. Sleep there again.” He looked over at me and saw my grim expression. “But, I think he’ll let us stay. If he says no, I’ll remind him he owes me for forgetting to call a lot and leaving me as a baby.” Louis grinned.
I forced a smile back and estimated another 6 minutes until we reached the house. It was much closer now, and it looked like a small, two story, Victorian style house with a large barn 20 feet behind the house, and a grain mill not too far from it. The land seemed to be fenced out, and it looked as if to be 3 acres, at least.
“Wow. That’s some place to live.”
“Yeah? Never really fancied it myself. It’s city life for me. At the very least suburbs.”
“We don’t live in the city.”
“We spend more time there than at home, right?
“And it’s just really close, almost like living there.”
I laughed. “Yeah. You’re a real city slicker there, Louis.”
He smiled at me and wrapped his arm around my waist. “You think so?”
I wrapped mine around his, the same as Louis, and winked at him. “You bet.”
He looked down and his goofy grin turned into a deep, sincere, proud smile. He looked at me, triumphantly. “Maye.”
“Hmm?” I looked at him seriously.
“This...what we have here. What we are doing...it’s...it’s gonna work. It’s really gonna work. Everything we’re gonna do, and everything we’re gonna work for...it’s...it’s all...gonna...work.”
I nodded my head and rested my head on his shoulder. “It is isn’t it?”
By that time we reached the driveway to Louis’s father’s house, which changed from dust to gravel, and it crunched beneath my boots.
When we reached the door, Louis took a deep breath and closed his eyes, as if preparing for a life changing event. Well, this really is for him, finally seeing his father after all these years.
“We don’t have to go in if you don’t want. We can just take a bus somewhere else. Find a motel. I don’t care. If you can’t do this, I-”
“No. I...I’ve gotta do this.”
I just nodded my head as I watched Louis’s hand fall upon the door and knock several times.
We stood there is silence. I actually think Louis was holding his breath, when finally the door opened and his chest deflated.
I looked from him to the man at the door and right away I could tell this was Jim. This was Louis’s father. The big blue eyes were exactly the same. The blonde hair was the same corn stalk color (Louis’s hair was blonde before he dyed it black, two weeks after I met him), and they had the same thin, pink lips.
“Jim.” Louis nodded his head.
“Louis? Louis, is that you, boy?”
Louis closed his eyes and nodded his head. When he opened them he had tears in his eyes. “Yeah, Jim.” He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “It’s me, dad.”
* * * * * * * *
I was sitting next to Louis on a green couch with a glass of water in my hands. I have no idea why, but my hands were shaking furiously, and I hoped Louis’s dad hadn’t noticed ‘cause he’d probably think I was looney.
Louis’s hand was on my knee, trying to comfort me of course. He defiantly saw my hands shaking. I can’t believe myself. I’m a nervous wreck, acting like a total crazy person, and Louis is as thick as stone. I’m not even the one who should be nervous. It isn’t my father I’m finally seeing after 13 years of one a month, sometimes, calls.
I looked over at Louis’s solid face and then looked at my quivering glass. I set it down on a coaster Louis’s dad set out for me. That made it all worse. Now that I didn’t have anything to rest my hands on, my fingers trembled wildly. I grabbed onto one of Louis’s hands and he squeezed it. My other hand I set on my lap, hoping it would stabilize.
“So...Louis,” his father looked at us. “This is your girlfriend, Maya.”
“Maye.” Louis corrected him sternly.
“Right. Maye. So, Maye is also...16 is it?”
“17.” Was all that came out of Louis’s mouth. Unfortunately, this was not a good start for Louis’s dad.
“Right. 17. And are you two eloping?”
“What?” Louis sat up strait. “No. No, Jim, no.” Louis only called his father dad once, the whole time, outside on the porch. He was back to Jim now.
“Oh, no? I’m sorry. It’s just that I thought-”
“Look, Jim. We just need some place to crash for a while, okay?”
He looked from Louis, to me, and then back to his son again. “Does your-”
“No. And she doesn’t need to.” Louis slouched back onto the couch. This time his hand laid in mine and he squeezed it tightly.
“Um, do your parents know about...all of this?” he looked at me.
“Yes. My...my parents are aware of the situation, Mr...”
“Please, call me Jim.”
I nodded my head. “Jim.”
“Alright. As...as long as I don’t get calls from screaming parents, I’m fine with you two staying here.”
I opened my mouth to thank Jim but Louis was faster. “Thanks, Jim.” He pulled me up by my hand and we walked to the edge of the living room. “Where do we take?”
“Um...I got the room up and to your left, so go up and down the hallway to your right, and if you two are sharing a room take the right one, but if not, let her have the right one.” He nodded to me.
Louis nodded and led me up the stairs, down the right hallway, and we stopped at the two doors. “Let’s just crash separately. For now, at least.”
“Sounds fine.” I smiled. He let me go, but not before, pulling me in for a kiss, and closed himself away in his room. I didn’t push for him to share a room, ‘cause I thought that he would be trying to deal with all of what was going on in his head. I felt so bad for him. He just seemed to be holding so much in right now. It must be really bad inside. So, I let him be.
The reason that Jim wanted me to have the right room was because it had a bathroom connected, probably so I wouldn’t have to share with him and he probably didn’t want me snooping around his stuff. Or he was just sincerely polite and thought the woman should have her own bathroom. Whatever the reason, I didn’t mind. I had my own bathroom for the first time (I had to share with mom and dad; a two bedroom house with one bathroom).
When I finally got comfortable in my bed, I started to feel really weird. Like, really, really weird. All of these thoughts about Louis finally getting to see his father and then he seems really pissed at him, besides the fact they haven’t seen each other in 13 years and he never really calls. And his mom. Who smoked marijuana and got arrested fro some time because of possession. And as Louis said, destroying his life. Probably because she was high and would do stupid things that would have a terrible outcome. Kids probable knew about his mom’s arrest. Louis was probably laughed at. Scoffed from behind his back. Then I thought about my mom and dad. They probably respect my decision, and that’s why they haven’t called, or tried to get me back. They understand how I feel and they respect that. That shows that they respect me. Which means... they love me? And I did this to them. I pulled this stupid stunt, even thought they care so much about me. I did this to them. They probably cried forever, realizing their only girl was gone. Their only child. That’s when I started to feel like garbage. It was horrible, like a wave of realization washed over me. I was a horrible child. The most terrible child in the world.
I was sobbing by then. Not loudly, but tears were streaming down my face. I cried for what seemed to be hours, but was truly only a couple of minutes. Pain dripped down along with my tears. It was all around me, and I could feel it. Pain, disgust, hurt, desertion. All that I could think about was Maye. Maye the terrible, disgusting, loathsome child. That’s me. Remember that name. Then the tears exploded. I was crying, quietly, hysterically. My pillow sodden with tears. I couldn’t stop. No matter how many times I told myself, I couldn’t stop crying. They must end. At some time, they would have to end.
Then, there was Louis’s strong hand, gripping mine, his other stroking my hair. His strong chest against my back. Lips at my ears, hushing me, telling me it was alright. With him there, I felt warmer than I did before, stronger, but I could not stop crying. He was perfect. Behind me, promising me that I would be alright. Telling me everything would get better. Louis told me everything that I needed to hear, yet I could not stop howling.
“Louis,” I whispered in between sobs. “Louis, it’s so hard.”
“I know.” He kissed my cheek, one hand squeezing mine, the other smoothing out my hair. “I know.”
END OF PART TWO