A somber drizzle filtered through the fog as Adam Carver headed for home. In a mesh shopping bag, he toted the Havarti his fiancée Kryztyna craved and a novel by Scott Fitzgerald, the one about Dick Diver in France and his wife, who left him for another guy. Adam couldn’t stop dwelling on Dick, jilted and confused, bicycling in the Alps with only himself to depend on. How strange and otherworldly it sounded, like Adam himself trudging alone down a gravel path in northern Minnesota while insistent raindrops clouded his view.
Wiping lenses didn’t help. He held his glasses at arm’s length and saw the world distorted through them. Dull autumn leaves turned a shimmering yellow and the droplets hanging from them strung out, eerily elongated, before they hesitated and fell, each plop like an asterisk of inevitable demise. At last, Adam stuffed the glasses in his coat pocket and decided to consider his fate unobstructed, pretty much the way Dick Diver did in the Alpine air. Nothing’s likely to dispel my doubt, Adam thought, but something might clarify its cause.
As he hoisted the bag to a shoulder, Fitzgerald’s novel popped into his head yet again, how he’d picked it up at the local newsstand. That was about the time Kryztyna said she was pregnant and her old boyfriend Gilbert Wright wrote he’d duck in on his way back to England. The Englishman had a habit of coming and going in Kryztyna’s life and relighting their flame. Adam didn’t understand why she tolerated that behavior or okayed his return this time and she wasn’t saying. The sequence created an uncomfortable serendipity. Adam didn’t know which made him happier, news of the baby’s impending arrival or thoughts of Gilbert’s eventual departure.
In normal circumstances, Adam rolled with the punches at unusual news, but normal times were a while ago, like when he breezed through a college chem major and wandered the university library during his years at med school. He dreamed then of curing dread diseases, not laboring like now at North Home Memorial as a GP for the sick but readily cured and sorting out his own life.
Adam’s dreams collided most solidly with reality when Kryztyna came on the scene. It wasn’t right to say he was blindsided in meeting up with her because they exchanged greetings and talked. But “me and you,” as she liked to say about them, had a pretty mundane prelude. Adam was hunched with others in a crowded nook at Sovereign Grounds coffee shop one blustery spring evening and still thinking about work when Kryztyna emerged out of nowhere. She glanced his way and beseeched him to hold her steaming cup while she got comfy. Quickly she turned on high heels and created a seat beside him. Their shoulders brushed as he handed back her cup.
Then, apropos nothing he discerned, she asked, “You know Zelda?”
“Who?” he responded, as mystified about the name Zelda as what he was missing by not knowing her.
“Me. It’s me.”
“You’re who I’m missing?” he asked realizing she’d mysteriously guessed his thoughts, weird as that felt.
Missing on Kryztyna wasn’t easy. She was a true blonde, lissome and lovely, able to choose her man. Their meeting at Sovereign Grounds happened during Adam’s hospital internship when sleep was at a premium and only the strongest Yemeni coffee kept him awake. Being drowsy made for lousy conversation, but he slowly got aroused over the energetic lady who spied him out and made her move.
“Doesn’t matter who I am, you’ll find out,” she said looking him boldly in the eye. “But about Zelda now.”
After more cups and a few words, Adam found Kryztyna and himself leaning into a stiff breeze peering at two gleaming white Harleys in the Sovereign Grounds parking lot. One was hers. Adam first assumed she showed up on the back seat of another guy’s motorcycle. Its driver was Moe, a tall, gangly local whose rowdy manner marked him as the roustabout he was. He lacked a front tooth and joked crassly about where Kryztyna would spend the night.
“You don’t figure I date him, that creep, do you?” she asked Adam in a tone of incredulity. “Love his hog but not him.”Well, Adam had wondered and was glad Kryztyna didn’t make him ask. She pointed at one of the late-model XL Roadsters.
“Wanna ride?” she wondered.