The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 7, 2010

Chapter Six


CNHI

— The phone rang. Raquel was hoping it was Buck, confirming their date to go to the square to listen to The Range Riders. She had been thinking about this for days. What was she going to wear? Who would sit with her children? Would Buck offer to let her bring them? After all, it was a very casual date, nothing too romantic , just right for a first date.

Her call waiting feature confirmed it was indeed Buck. As she approached the ringing phone her father’s words again echoed in her mind “Don’t say nothin’girl, not ‘till you got’um interested.” Raquel answered the phone with a casual tone, deciding not to let Buck know that she had call waiting.

Buck sounded relaxed as he spoke. He asked how her father was doing, how her day was at work and even asked after the children. It was one of those phone conversations that go on and on without really having a deep world shattering meaning.

Oh no, the dang doorbell. Raquel agreed that Buck should pick her up around 5:45pm. She would have the folding chairs, he would bring the cooler and blankets.

As Raquel approached the door she could see her best friend Maggie standing there with tears running down her cheeks, wearing that awful melatlic green coat, and those old saggy leggings. “Maggie what on earth is the matter”?

Maggie and Raquel had been friends forever, even before that rat-fink Rock came into Raquel’s life. They had been cheerleaders, math lab partners, and now both single mothers. Her first husband had been killed in a terrible car accident in Biloxi then last year her current husband had lost his job, started to drink more than usual and ran off with the first floozie that came along.

Maggie had recently moved back to her parents home with her three children in tow. Her parents were wonderful to her and the kids, doing all they could to make a bad situation tolorable .

Raquel wanted to tell Maggie about Buck and their upcoming date, but she knew Maggie really needed a shoulder right now. This was not the time to share her glee.

Walter Reed Hospital was not a place that Bobby Tom ever imagined himself to be spending the next months of his life. This was not how his life was supposed to go.

Endless hours of painful rehab. Alone, except for the wonderful Veterans that came to visit. Finally, now that all the red tape, secret clearances, and debriefings were over, he could receive an occasional call from Buck. Buck had sounded so relieved to finally talk to him, telling him all about his new life at home. They talked about fishing, girls, cars, and the Coffee Call. Buck even told Bobby Tom about Raquel and her father.

Buck was just getting the cooler iced down when the phone rang, it was Raquel. She told him about Maggie, that she just couldn’t go to the Square with him. This was just too important. As he listened, he understood completely and said they would try to get together soon.