Andy parked her taxi. As she walked to the entrance, a bum accosted her. “Can I trouble you for some change?”
Andy brushed him off and entered. Inside the harshly fluorescent-lit store, she picked up some cleaner, paper towels, and a wrapped salami sandwich, a bag of chips, a package of powdered donuts and two cups of coffee. The clerk placed the food in one bag and the cleaner and towels in another.
Once she exited, she handed the bag of food and a cup of coffee to the beggar. “Here you go, Bobby.”
“You’re such a nice lady, Andy,” he said pulling out a small package of powdered donuts with his filthy fingers.
Setting the other bag and cup of coffee on the hood of her cab, she retrieved the bottle of cleaner and paper towels. She sprayed down her back seat from her last fare and scrubbed the vinyl trying to clean up any remnant sex stain.
Bobby lingered behind her watching with powdered sugar in his facial hair. “What’s going on, Andy?”
“Some idiot couldn’t keep it in his pants. Now I gotta clean it up,” she said.
“Yeah, I have a hard time with that too,” replied Bobby as he munched on a donut.
Andy sighed, discouraged, and wiped her brow. “Maybe that’s my problem. It’s all my problem. Civilization is fine. It’s just me that’s screwed up.”
Bobby stared at Andy as donut crumbs fell from his lower lip. “What?”
She faced him and shrugged her shoulders. “Forty years Bobby. Forty years. I haven't had sex in forty years. Sometimes I feel I'm not part of this world, this society or civilization for choosing this chaste life, for choosing to stay faithful to a man who never returned.” She started to cry and immediately turned away from him.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I know. Why would you possibly think badly of yourself?” Bobby asked.
“Oh, you know the value of a woman is how she performs in bed. I have no man in my bed, so, therefore, I’m not much of a woman,” Andy replied.
Bobby wrapped his dirty arms around her and hugged her tight. “Any man would be honored to share your bed but few if any are worthy.”
Andy delicately pushed him away, mostly because if his stench. “Thanks, Bobby.”
“Don't give up on Earl. I know men; I am one. He'll be back. You're too good a woman for him to stay away,” he said.
She hesitated and said. “I think I saw him today. He was wearing his pilot's coveralls. Why the hell after all these years would he be wearing his coveralls? He never wore them when we were together. He kept them locked in a trunk. ‘The past was the past,’ he always said, ‘no use looking back.’ I see him today and he seemed to have become his past.”
“How would you know if the trunk was locked?” Bobby asked.
Andy threw her arms up in the air. “Because I’m a woman, that’s why. Women unlock things men keep locked. It’s just how it is.”
Bobby rubbed his filthy beard. “Maybe he’s going back to his past to find out what he’s missing. Sometimes we need to go back to the past to find our way to the future.” He shrugged. “Sounds to me Andy like he must be on a mission. Hey. Maybe that mission is you.”
Andy laughed. “I don't know about that.”
“All I know is if I had your love to come home to, nothing would stop me,” he said.
Despite his smell, Andy embraced him. “Thanks, Bobby. You're a real pal.” She pulled back. “And make sure you go down to the VA. They have a food kitchen and showers. They can take real good care of you.”
“Only if I see you there,” he said.
She walked over to a trashcan to toss the used paper towels. “I’ll be at the food kitchen on Sunday,” she replied getting back in her cab and saluted him. “Adios motherfucker.”
He smiled and saluted her as she drove away.