Adulthood was like having a bank account that changed every single second of every day. Sometimes you’d check and find twice as much as you expected. Then the next moment you looked in the account you’d discover it was overdrawn.
“Life is never as sweet without the sour.”
Will loved that line from the Cameron Crowe movie Vanilla Sky. He’d seen it again not too long ago and found the trippy, melancholy movie good for his soul. Maybe since he’d felt the sting of loss recently. Or maybe because he’d enjoyed too much wine while viewing it.
The thought of wine sounded pretty good to him. Actually, no. Something stronger. At least a thick dark beer, the kind he avoided these days since he also wanted to avoid the thick belly hanging over his belt. The fading light of the day and the cold and the lack of direction told him to grab a beer. It would give him a chance to clear his jumping-off-a-cliff mentality and be able to explain to Tricia the reality of the situation.
So first things first.
The Irish pub was pretty much on his way home. He’d have a couple and then would head home to the circus that usually greeted him around dinnertime. Will tried to figure out how exactly to tell Tricia. This was his first question. Then he’d need to figure out what the solution would be. Or could be.
Here’s our problem and here’s what I’m going to do to fix it.
It was as simple as that. But figuring out the solution was a lot harder than naming the problem.
Will entered the pub and found more people than he expected. It was actually pretty crowded for a Monday afternoon before five. Was nobody working these days? The tables were all full so he took a seat at the bar. A couple of older men who definitely enjoyed the heavy stouts were sitting on one side while a man younger than him sat by himself on the other. The Hispanic guy wore muddy work pants and boots along with a thick coat over a hooded sweatshirt. He gave Will a friendly nod as he sat down.
A television above them had CNN on with reporters updating the situation in Columbia, South Carolina. The volume was down but still audible. The lone figure next to him watched the screen and appeared to be carefully listening to the latest updates.
“Now they’re saying almost one-hundred and thirty people died,” the man said in a slight accent.
Will shook his head without saying anything. He didn’t want to be rude but he also didn’t want to chat. The bartender came over and Will ordered some kind of IPA on tap
“I’m heading down there on Sunday.”
Will looked at the stranger and didn’t seem to understand the statement. “Where? South Carolina?”
“Yes. For the relief efforts. I have a sister and brother-in-law who live down there—close to there–and they are having trouble finding people to help with the clean up.”
“Yeah, I bet. The rest of the country is having to clean up after itself,” Will said.
“It’s not good.” The dark eyes of the stranger kept watching the screen.
“That’s an honorable thing you’re doing,” Will said.
“No, it’s not like that. I’m getting paid.”
Will gave him a nod as his beer came. He took a long sip.
“But you’re still going down there,” he said to the man. “You’ll still be helping people out.”
“I’m going down because my sister asked. They lost some people from their church.”
For a few minutes as they both stared up at the screen in front of them and sipped the beers below them, Will and the man made slight conversation. About the tornado and about the coming hurricane down in the keys and about the rest of the disasters. Tough eyes and a tanned, hardened face gave no hint of joy or hope
“I think we’re living in the end times,” the man told him.
Will didn’t respond. He’d heard enough about all that. Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t. Knowing whether that was true didn’t change a thing.
With his first beer disappearing far too fast, Will ordered another and then decided to ask this man a question filling him. He’d been asking a lot of questions like these for a while now. It wasn’t a big deal to ask. The worst that could happen was that someone could not respond. Or say no.
“Are they still looking for more people down there in Columbia to help with the cleanup?”
It was just a random idea, a simple question. Will figured it didn’t hurt to inquire.
What was the absolute worst thing that could happen from asking?