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Notes From A Friend

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Edward Miller keeps getting odd notes at seemingly important times in his life

He sat there, staring at the page, stunned by what he saw, thinking, “But … he’s been my best friend since college. This … This can’t be right.”

Edward Miller had just gotten back from his latest trip, this time to Japan. The hired car had taken him from the airport to the office, so he could report in and then drive his own car back home. It was as he’d been checking his mail slot that he found the envelope — looking just like all the others that he’d ever received. It was a light yellowish green with his name typed on the front of it. There was nothing else on the envelope.

He’d grabbed a couple of other items there, and raced out to his car, grinning as he did. As soon as he sat down and closed the door, he’d torn open the envelope, pulling out the page that he had known would be in there.

# # #

Eddie was enjoying college. He was finally away from home, and he felt like he was doing well in the five courses he was taking. On top of that, his roommate, Tommy, seemed, so far, to be a nice guy and they were getting along well together.

Checking the time, he realized that his next class would be starting in half an hour. If he left now, he should have enough time to get to class, maybe even stopping off to grab a snack and a bottle of water on the way. He grabbed his backpack, putting it on a chair to shove his English textbook and notebook in.

As he did that, he noticed an envelope — an oddly-colored light yellowish green envelope — on the floor just inside the door. The envelope had “Edward Miller” typed on the front of it. He picked it up, wondering why someone would have left a note for him? He’d been in the room since getting back from breakfast that morning, so they could have just knocked on the door.

Since he still had a few minutes until the campus bus came by, he slid his finger along the top, tearing the envelope open. Inside, there was a single piece of paper, folded. He pulled it out and shook it open. All that was on the page, in the middle, were six numbers, typed: “6 14 27 30 38 45”. Then, a little lower, also typed, “A friend”.

He had no idea what those numbers could possibly mean, nor who his “friend” might be, and thought someone was playing some weird kind of prank on him. He shoved the page and the envelope into his backpack, zipping it up, then pulled a light jacket on and slid his backpack up onto one shoulder.

He walked out of the dormitory and down to the bus stop. About a minute later, he saw his roommate, Thomas Asher, jogging towards him on the sidewalk. Tommy saw him, waved, and headed over to the bus stop to join him. He was in a t-shirt and shorts, his hair dripping wet and hanging over the sweat band stretched across his forehead. “Hey, bro. Off to class?”

“Yeah. English now. Then I get to come back and figure out what the hell to do with the rest of my day.”

“No worries. Oh, hey — you’ve got it all to yourself for most of the rest of today. My dad’s picking me up in about an hour — the usual thing of seeing me and taking me out to dinner.” The first time Tommy’s father had done this, Tommy had told Eddie about how his parents had gotten divorced when he was young, and he’d spent most of his time growing up with his mother. “And, of course, after dinner, he’s dragging me with him while he goes to buy another lottery ticket — just like he always does when he sees me. He says that my being there makes him feel luckier or something … not that I’ve ever seen him win anything.” Tommy chuckled. “You want to give me a dollar and pick some numbers, and I’ll buy you a ticket?”

Eddie laughed. “Yeah, like I’ve got a spare dollar!”

“I hear ya, bro!” With that, Tommy started jogging backward, waving and then turned around to head to their shared room.

English class was boring, as usual, and he headed back to the dorm, afterward, to get some of his homework done and then do some more studying. He was back to sitting at his desk, much later that night, reading through his notes again when Tommy came back. He saw the doggie bag of leftovers that Tommy brought back from dinner with his father as he shoved it into the small refrigerator they had managed to sneak into their room.

Eddie kept reading his notes as Tommy tossed himself onto his own bed and turned on the TV. As it came on, the first thing that Eddie heard from behind him was, “ … and the winning numbers for this week are! … 27 … 38 … 14 … 45 … 6 … and 30! Again, the winning numbers are 6, 14, 27, 30, 38, and 45! If you have those numbers, congratulations on winning this week’s lottery prize of twenty-five million dollars!”

# # #

Eddie and Tommy had become close friends during the time they spent together in college. Going into their third year, they had both wanted to move out of the dorm and, instead, into a small apartment close to campus. There were many nearby, and it had not taken all that long for them to find one that would give them each more room, as well as the ability to actually cook their own meals.

While they had looked around, they had joked about how, finally, they would have space for them to each bring back a girl and wouldn’t have to worry about the dorm supervisor reporting them for having a visitor of the opposite sex. Of course, it wasn’t like either of them had managed to do more than go on a single date with any girls, but they were happy blaming it on the supervisor instead of anything else.

Eddie had just gotten back from classes and opened the front door to the apartment. He saw as he stepped in, a yellowish green envelope laying on the floor. Remembering the missed opportunity of the first one, he flipped it over and saw, as with the previous one, his name typed on the front of the envelope. He threw his backpack aside and quickly tore it open, thinking that he was about to get another chance to become rich.

Like the first envelope, there was just a single page in the envelope, but typed on this one, in the middle, was, “Ask April Thorley for a date.” Lower down, again, there was just “A friend” typed with nothing else.

He was now completely confused. He knew who April Thorley was. Pretty much every student at the college knew who she was. April was in his year and was absolutely gorgeous. He’d first seen her in the first week he was on campus and had instantly thought about going over to ask her out for a date … or lunch … or coffee … or even just the chance to spend five minutes with her, basking in her beauty.

And that was when just about everyone he knew had told him that he should absolutely stay away from her! The story that had very quickly circulated through the entire campus was that when she was in high school, in her junior year, she had spent a few months in a mental institution … because her boyfriend had disagreed with her about something, and she had completely flaked out, grabbed a kitchen knife, and started stabbing him with it.

At the time, he’d been astonished — at least from a distance, she didn’t really seem like she would … get that violent over just a disagreement. It really didn’t make sense. However, college being what it was, he knew that it did, indeed, take all sorts, so he had listened to everyone and had stayed far away from her. Of course, every time he saw her walking around campus or if she were in the same class, he would still appreciate having the opportunity to just look at her — “enjoying the scenery,” he’d once joked to Tommy — but he didn’t go near her.

But now he had this note telling him that he should invite her on a date. Remembering what had happened right after he’d gotten the first note, he realized that he was probably going to have the opportunity to ask her out very soon. And, given what he’d missed out on before, this might not be the crazy idea it seemed to be. So, with all of that, he had better make sure that he was ready for if, or when, he saw her.

Thinking about it more, though, he remembered that he really didn’t have a lot of money, so he was rather limited in what sort of date he could even afford to invite her on. He saw the college newspaper laying on the table — Tommy must have left it there — and started flipping through to see what, if anything, might be going on tonight. The ad for the campus movie theater caught his eye. They were showing Casablanca, and, not only that, but this was the last night they’d be showing it. He had always been a fan of Humphrey Bogart, and the campus theater wasn’t all that expensive. He could easily afford two tickets and some popcorn — and, if he really did see her today, he could, at least, be very positive about the date he was asking her on.

It was later that afternoon, as he was heading into the cafeteria, that he saw April. She was sitting at a small table, by herself — as always — finishing off her lunch and studying. Thinking it looked like this was his chance, Eddie walked over to her and sat down in the chair opposite her. She looked up, surprised that anyone was sitting with her.

“Hi. I’m Edward Miller — Eddie. I know that we haven’t ever talked, but …” He paused to take a breath. “They’re showing Casablanca at the campus theater tonight, and it’s the last night they’re playing it, and I’m a really big fan of Bogart, and it’s one of my favorite movies, and I’d like to go see it, but I hate going to the movies by myself, so … would you like to go with me?”

April smiled at him, and he found he really liked seeing the corners of her mouth turn up, the smile moving all the way up to the corners of her eyes as well. “Hi, Eddie. Casablanca? I love that movie!” She paused and, still smiling, said, “Of all the cafeterias, in all the towns, in all the world, he walks into mine…” She giggled. “Are you serious? I didn’t know they were showing it here. I would be very happy to go see it with you tonight.”

Sitting in the movie theater, they had shared a small bag of popcorn. April had reached out to hold his hand during the movie, squeezing it when “As Time Goes By” started to be played, and then leaned her head against his shoulder for the rest of the film.

Walking out of the theater, she kept holding his hand as he walked her home. As they were walking, she said, “Eddie, I’m really glad that you asked me to come tonight. I’ve seen you around campus a few times and thought you … y’know … you looked really handsome. But …”, April shrugged. “This is my third year here, and you’re the first guy that’s ever even sat down at the same table in the cafeteria with me, never mind asked me to go on a date.”

He thought about the note from earlier and tried to figure out how to explain any of it. He realized he couldn’t, but, at the very least, he could tell her why everyone had been avoiding her. “Well … way back, freshman year, there was this story going around about how, in high school, you’d … um … stabbed your boyfriend.”

She suddenly stopped walking, jerking him to a halt, so that he spun around to face her. “That bastard! That no-good son-of-a-bitch! He cheats on me, dumps me, and then decides he doesn’t like her! But there was no freaking way I was taking him back! So, instead, he figures the way to try and fix it is to tell everyone that I’m crazy to make sure they stay away from me? Damn him!”

April started shaking and put her hands up to her face, covering her eyes. Not knowing what else to do, Eddie stepped closer to her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tightly against him. She leaned into him, resting her head on his chest. He felt her sobbing. “Shhh… Relax. It’s ok. I’m here. And … Well, I don’t know about you, but this was really nice tonight, and I’d sure like to do this again, all right?”

Hearing him say that, she leaned back a little, looking at him. “Me too,” she said, as she started to move her head forward to kiss him.

# # #

The remaining two years of college had seemed to go by in an eye-blink and graduation was only a few weeks away. During those two years, April had, indeed, liked going out with Eddie — as he liked being with her. The two of them quickly became a couple, ignoring any of the muttered gossip they heard whenever they would be out together. She spent much of her spare time at the apartment with him, even, sometimes, coming by just so she could sit with him, the two of them studying their notes from different classes, but still just spending their time sitting side-by-side.

He saw his rapidly-approaching graduation as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, he would be done with college and ready to truly start to “get on with his life”, as so many of his family’s friends had been telling him he would, and should, do. However, on the other hand, he had yet to find any job and was starting to get very worried about that. At this rate, he was going to need to move back home until he could find something.

Eddie had walked April to her morning class and then come back, thinking he would take a shower and start getting ready for his own class in the afternoon. Stepping into the apartment, he saw, once again, a yellowish green envelope laying in the middle of the floor as soon as he opened the door. He smiled as he saw it, wondering what treat this one would bring.

He picked it up, checked that it did, indeed, have his name typed on the front of it, and tore it open, pulling out the folded-up piece of paper that rested within. Flipping it open, he read, “Go to 37 Commerce Avenue.” As always, the only thing that even vaguely tried to be a signature was a typed, “A friend”.

Eddie looked at it, absolutely unsure of where “37 Commerce Avenue” was, or what might be there. He grabbed a map and saw that there was, indeed, a “Commerce Avenue” nearby and, not only that, but it was only a couple of streets away from a bus stop. Looking at his watch to be sure he had enough time, he decided that he could do this now rather than waiting until later and, possibly, missing whatever opportunity this was presenting him.

A short while later, he was getting off the bus, seeing that he was in a somewhat commercial portion of the area, with small businesses and buildings with signs indicating multiple small companies in just about every direction. He got himself oriented and then started walking in the direction of Commerce Avenue.

Finding the right address, there was a small sign on the door that said, “Blunt Courier Service — Domestic and International.” Still having no idea what he was doing there, he opened the door and walked in, looking around. There was a counter with several desks behind it. Maps of the state, the country, and the world covered the walls.

The rear wall had a door that was open a little and, through it, he heard a man shouting. “What the hell do you mean you’re taking something else?” There was a pause for a few seconds. “Fine! But it was a damn good offer, and I’m not going to keep it open for you in case you change your mind!” The sound of a phone being slammed down was loud and obvious.

The door swung open, and a middle-aged man in a suit came storming through, muttering to himself. He looked up and saw Eddie standing there. “Yes, can I …” He did a double-take and looked a bit closer at Eddie. “You look really familiar. Hey, wait. I know! … Are you Joe Miller’s son?” He snapped his fingers a couple of times. “Fred? No, wait. … Edward! Right?”

“Wha’? Yeah, Joseph Miller is my dad. And I usually go by ‘Eddie’. Why?”

He walked over to the counter, sticking out his hand to shake. “Charles Blunt — Charlie. I haven’t seen Joe in a dog’s age — not since I moved out here.”

Eddie shook his hand, thinking that he sort of remembered seeing Charlie from when he was a kid. “Nice to meet you, again, sir … Charlie. I’m sort of remembering seeing you back at home, but, sorry — it was a long time ago, and I wasn’t paying that much attention to adults back then.”

“Don’t worry about it. Most adults don’t pay attention to other people’s kids either!” He laughed again. “Wow, kid. I have to say, you look just like your dad did when he … and I … were younger. What are you doing here? Going to school?”

“Yes, I am. And thanks. I hadn’t really thought about whether I looked like him when he was my age. I haven’t seen dad since my last trip home.”

“Ok. Hopefully, he’s still doing all right?” Eddie nodded in response. “Good, good. Ah … the things that Joe and I did together …” He chuckled and then looked at Eddie again. “So, what can I do for you? You need some paperwork or bonds transported? Or anything like that?”

“Huh? No, I … Actually, I have no idea why I’m here.” Eddie started trying to come up with some excuse for why he’d walked in. Before he could come up with any explanation, Charlie perked up.

“Hey! You said you’re in school, right? How close to finished are you?”

Eddie laughed. “Funny you should ask that. I’m graduating in a few weeks.”

“No kidding! Hey, I know this is going to sound really strange, but …” Charlie leaned back against a desk. “I’m only saying this because, well — like I said, Joe and I spent a lot of time together when we were younger, and we saved each other’s necks a hell of a lot of times. So — any chance you need a job?”

“A job? I don’t have one yet, and … I have been looking for one, but with no luck so far.”

“Then this is your lucky day, Eddie, my boy! As you can see, I run a courier service and things have been going really well.” He gestured around at the empty desks. “All my guys are out and running jobs. I’ve been getting ready to expand. I just found out that the guy I was going to hire decided that he didn’t want to travel quite as much as this job needs. So — are you interested in a job that pays pretty well and is going to have you traveling all over the world just about all the time?”

“P-p-pays well? And I get to travel? All right!” Eddie rubbed his hands together, smiling. “Where do I sign up?”

Charlie laughed. “Yep. You’re Joe’s son, that’s for sure! Come on into the back. Let’s go into my office and we can go through some of the initial paperwork, at least until you do graduate.” Eddie walked around the counter to Charlie, who slapped his arm around Eddie’s shoulder. “And you’d better start working on getting your passport up to date, son, so you’re ready for when I need to send you off to somewhere like South Africa or Australia!”

# # #

It had been almost a year since his graduation, and Eddie had done a lot of traveling during that time. His new boss, Charlie, had not been joking about the job keeping him traveling almost all the time. He was usually gone five or even six days every week, and would often come back just long enough to check in, go home to sleep and then get ready to travel the next day. While his wallet and bank account weren’t exactly gushing with cash, he was doing well enough that he’d been able to buy a cheap used car that didn’t have too much mileage on it. It had, though, definitely seen better days. He wasn’t really using it all that much, though, given how much he was away from home.

He and Tommy were still in the same apartment. They weren’t going to be able to keep it after this lease cycle was done, though. The landlord, when he was younger, had gone to the same college and wanted to be able to provide an apartment for any other students who might want to move out of their dormitory. He’d only let them have the extra year because they were staying in the area, but that time was rapidly running out.

Eddie had just returned from what had started late and turned into an overnight trip to Oklahoma City. The hired car drove him from the airport back to the office on Commerce Avenue so he could check in. As the driver was pulling out of the airport parking lot, he called April to ask if, tonight, she wanted to eat at home and cuddle up on the couch to watch a DVD, or if she would rather go out to eat.

“I don’t care, sweetie. We could go out to eat and then, after that, back to the apartment and the couch instead?”

“Sounds good to me.” Eddie laughed. “We just have to make sure that Tommy goes out tonight so we’ll have the apartment to ourselves!” That reminded him. “Damn … we still need to find a new place to stay. I have to remember to ask Tommy if he’s had any luck with finding somewhere else yet.”

“All right. Should I head over to you after work, or do you want to come and pick me up at my mom’s?” After graduating, she was still living at home. Part of what he was hoping for with a new apartment was for her to be able to move in as well — not that he’d asked her about it yet, but he was pretty sure that she would agree.

Eddie drove back home, stopping on the way to pick up a newspaper and some other random apartment listings that he saw. He unlocked the door and walked in, shouting, as a joke, “Honey, I’m home!” Tommy, of course, was at work, so there was no response. Realizing that he hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast that morning, he dropped his small suitcase on the floor and headed into the kitchen, opening the refrigerator to see what he might be able to have to eat for lunch.

Thankfully, he found enough to make a sandwich, so he quickly put one together. He had taken his first bite out of it when he noticed a yellowish green envelope sitting on the kitchen table. As he picked it up, he saw, yet again, his name typed on the front of it.

“Gee, I wonder what it is this time,” he thought to himself as he licked his fingers clean and tore the envelope open. Inside, there was still just a single page with a few words typed on it: “You’ll find it at 216 Maple Street” and, as always, “A friend.”

He searched on a map and found how to get to the address. The sandwich was quickly eaten, and then he was off on a short drive there. As he started to get close, he saw the streets filled with what seemed to be nice single- and multiple-family houses. Turning onto Maple Street and looking at the house numbers, as he got to 216, he saw a sign in the front yard that said, “Apartment for rent. Inquire within.”. Eddie chuckled to himself, hoping that this meant what he thought it did.

Parking in the driveway, he walked to the front door. There were two doorbells, but only one of them was labeled with a name — Warner. He rang the bell and waited a short while before hearing the sound of an inner door being opened. “I’m coming!” he heard a woman’s voice call.

The door opened, and an older woman was standing there. She had tightly curled grey hair and was slightly bent over. He guessed that she was in her mid to late seventies. “Yes? Can I help you?”

“Hi. I’m Edward Miller — Eddie. I was driving by, and I saw your sign about an apartment for rent. My friend and I are looking for one, and this seems like a nice area, so I thought I would ask about it?”

“Oh. Of course. I’m Dorothy …” She smiled as she saw his eyebrows lift. “No, I’ve never been to Oz, and whatever joke you might be thinking of, I can assure you that I’ve already heard it.”

Eddie laughed. “No, no… I promise! I wasn’t thinking of any sort of joke. But I will make sure to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

“Yes, yes. And I’m not giving up my pair of ruby slippers!” Dorothy laughed as well. “Ok, well … the apartment is upstairs. It’s three bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms.”

“Wow? Really? That’s great.” He caught himself and realized he didn’t know how expensive it was going to be. “Ok. That’s certainly the right size. How much are you asking for it monthly?” She said a rate that was barely more than what he and Tommy were paying for their current tiny two bedroom apartment.

“All right. Could I see it? And, just so you know — even if I like it, I won’t be able to say definitely that we’d take it. My friend would have to see it as well. Also … um … since it’s three bedrooms, I’d sort of also like my girlfriend to come and take a look at it, too?”

“Of course, dear.” She patted his forearm. “Perfectly understandable. Come on in. The door upstairs is right there.” She pointed at another door to the side of the entry hallway. “I’m not as good going up and down stairs as I used to be when I was a young gal, so you’ll have to show yourself around. The door is unlocked. I’ve been leaving it that way while it’s empty. So — go ahead and take a look. I’m going back inside to enjoy my late afternoon coffee. Let me know when you come back down and what you think, all right?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said as he opened the door leading upstairs. Fifteen stairs up and he walked into what looked to be a very nice apartment. It was completely empty, of course, exposing the nicely patterned hardwood floors or the lush carpeting. Taking a quick look into the three bedrooms, he saw that they were all larger than either of the bedrooms at his apartment and with bigger closets, too. Walking through the apartment, he was impressed by how everything looked and how much more space they would have.

Eddie smiled as he got ready to head back downstairs, thinking about how he would tell Tommy … and about asking April if she would like to share an apartment, complete with her own bedroom if she really wanted it.

# # #

Ever since they’d moved to the apartment on Maple Street five months ago, Eddie’s car was seeing a lot more mileage. It was further to travel to get into the office for each assignment. Most of the time, April was the one driving him to and from the office and then she would use it to go to work as well.

This had been a same-day trip, with a one hour flight each way. April had said she didn’t need to go anywhere, so he had been able to take the car with him, leaving it in a parking lot near the office. As he approached the car, he saw, from a distance, something stuck under one of the windshield wipers. “Oh, great,” he muttered to himself. “Someone wants to sell me something, or, maybe, sell me on something.”

It was when he got closer that he realized it wasn’t a flyer or brochure or anything like that. Instead, it was a yellowish green envelope. He smiled, wondering what this one might be bringing. Tugging it out from under the wiper, he flipped it over and saw that, as expected — it had only his name typed on the front of it. He tore it open and pulled out the page it held, unfolding it to read what was on it. “Take your checkbook to 176 Fallen Cedar Lane” was typed in the middle of the page with “A friend” underneath it as the only signature.

Shrugging to himself, he checked his suit jacket and confirmed that he had his checkbook with him. A quick look at the map stuck in the door pocket of the car showed him where Fallen Cedar Lane was, so he set off heading there. It was on the other side of the city and even further out into the suburbs than his apartment. He called home while he was driving.

April answered the phone, “Hello?”

“Hi, babe. I’m back, but …” Eddie realized he needed some excuse for not heading directly home. “Um — Charlie wants me to run an errand for him. Given how great it’s been working for him, I just couldn’t say ‘No,' so I’m probably going be a couple of hours more before I’m back home.”

“That’s all right, sweetie. Tommy’s out, probably for the whole night he said, so it’s only the two of us. I’ll just wait on starting to make dinner. Call me when you’re heading back, though, so I know when to start? That way, we can eat when you get home, ok?” She giggled. “Oh, and I bumped into Dorothy earlier. We got to talking, and I mentioned that we were planning to watch Key Largo later this evening. She looked kind of wistful when I said that, so I asked her if she would like to join us. She said that she would, but didn’t want to bother us. I told her it wouldn’t be any bother at all. We’ll have to watch it down in her living room, though. She really hates the stairs.”

Eddie laughed. “That’s fine. How about I stop on the way back and get some popcorn so we can really make it a movie night for all of us?”

“I like it, and I think she’d like that, too. Talk to you in a bit. Love you, sweetie!”

“Love you, too, babe. I’ll call when I’m headed back!”

Hanging up on her, he felt bad about not telling her the truth, but — the yellowish green envelopes and the notes contained in them felt like they were supposed to be a secret. He also started thinking of which way to head home to make sure he would be able to stop to buy popcorn.

He got to Fallen Cedar Lane and was driving along, slowly, looking at the house numbers. He’d gotten close and, looking ahead, he saw, at what had to be 176, a car sitting on the front lawn, just off the driveway. Walking down the driveway towards the car, there was an elderly woman holding what seemed, from a distance, to be a sign.

As he got to the address, he saw that he was right. It was a sign saying “For Sale”, and she was placing it, so it showed through the front windshield of the car. And what a car it was! Still just seeing it from a distance, he wasn’t entirely sure of what make and model the car was, but it definitely looked like an older luxury sedan of some sort.

The woman had closed the door of the car and turned around to walk back to her house, but she stopped as she heard him stopping his car. Eddie got out, starting to walk towards the car, seeing more of it the closer he got. It was a Blue Cadillac DeVille. He wasn’t an expert enough about cars to really know much more than that, but it looked very, very nice and in great condition.

“Yes, young man? Can I help you?”

“Hello, ma’am. I’m Edward Miller — Eddie. I was driving by and saw you putting the sign on your car here. My girlfriend and I have been using my car a lot, and it’s getting to be a bit difficult constantly sharing it. So, I’ve been thinking that I need another car.”

“Ah, yes …” She seemed to drift off in thought, then shook her head and reached out her hand. “Gwendolyn Hawks … Gwen. This was my husband’s car. He loved it quite a bit.” She chuckled and then sighed. “Not as much as he loved me, thankfully. But … He passed away a year ago and I just … I can’t keep it around anymore.” She sighed again and closed her eyes.

“I’m so sorry to hear that, Mrs. Hawks. It sounds like you loved him a great deal also.”

“Please — call me Gwen. Only my students and their parents ever called me Mrs. Hawks, and even that’s quite a while back.”

Eddie laughed. “All right … Gwen.” She smiled. “It looks like a wonderful car. How much would you like for itt?”

She shrugged. “I hadn’t even started to think about it. In some ways,” she paused, “you’d be doing me a favor just by getting it out of here, so I don’t have to look at it anymore. It brings back too many memories. And, well — you said that it’s for you and your girlfriend, right?”

He nodded, and Gwen smiled. “I think that Brett would have liked it going to someone who wanted to drive his girlfriend around.” Her voice drifted off. “Much like he drove me around in it…” She shook her head a little, seemingly trying to bring her thoughts back to the present. “It’s an old car — from 1979, I think. Would … $8,000 be too much, do you think?”

Eddie smiled at her and said, “Gwen. I have no idea how much it’s worth either, but I can’t believe that it isn’t worth more than that. Would you be too insulted if I were to offer …” He thought about how much he had in his checking account. “How about I write a check for $12,000?”

She gasped. “But, but … that’s more than I was even asking!”

“I know. But, I can afford it and, if your husband … Brett, you said? Well, if he cared for it anywhere close to the way that, clearly, you cared for him, then I’m sure it’s worth more than what you were asking. Although …”

He paused, thinking of how he was possibly going to explain finding and buying the car. “Gwen — my girlfriend, April, doesn’t know that I’m out here and, well … I was driving around, and kind of got lost.” He was thinking fast, trying to come up with what would seem like a reasonable explanation. “When she and I come to pick it up, could we both just say that … your son knows my boss, Charlie, and told him about you selling the car?”

She laughed. “Just like any man. Afraid to admit that you got lost.” She waved her hand, dismissing it as a problem. “Don’t worry, Eddie. Your secret will be safe with me. If she asks, my son told your boss, Charlie, that I was selling the car, and he told you about it.”

“Wonderful!” Having said that, Eddie reached into his jacket pocket. “So, $12,000 it is! You’ve got the title?”

“I’ve got everything inside. Come on back to the house and we can both have some hot tea while we do all the paperwork.”

# # #

The notes were always correct. It wasn’t always obvious what they were being correct about, but they had always been correct. This one couldn’t be right, though. It just couldn’t.

Eddie slumped down in the drivers’ seat of the 1979 Cadillac that he had owned and been driving for the past six months. His hand dropped, letting the page flutter to the floor on the passenger’s side. Like all the others, it was signed with a typed “A friend”. Typed in the middle of the page was, “April and Tommy are sleeping together every time you travel.”

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