Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Memories and Secrets: Tunnel of Love

One night, in the early 1980's, I left New York for a brief funeral.

In those days there were only three ways to get to Philadelphia - Greyhound, Amtrak and NJ Transit. Because death had come suddenly, I needed to leave within hours of getting the rare long-distance phone call telling me to come. Greyhound left every two hours.

I sat up front so I wouldn't get car sick. The bus was empty, the night was bleak and the roads leaving New York were fast. I am not sure how it began but the driver and I began to talk. It would not be the last time a man turned to me to confess.

He had just gotten back from World War II and out of boredom and mild curiosity started dating a young woman. One day he showed up at her house to find her and her mother busy addressing envelopes. "What are you doing?" he asked. "Sending out invitations to our wedding," the young woman replied.

So he got married to someone because of proximity and minor distraction and maybe postage already spent.

And he did all the right things. Brought home the bacon, raised their daughter, showed up at the functions husbands were supposed to show up at. And he stayed married. For decades, was still married and now his own daughter was married, he had a granddaughter, apple of his eye, told me if a pedophile ever came near her he'd kill him, just kill him didn't care what would happen next.

But. All these years with the woman he married. He hated the way she breathed when she slept. Hated it. Hated being in the bed with her listening to her breathe. The sound of her life.

He now slept in the other bedroom.