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Bobby Becomes Bob

literary

Bob Boan

 

 

 

Chapter One


The Return

 

Bobby walked as fast as he could. He was emotionally conflicted, the anticipation of recapturing lost love propelling him forward, barely aware of his surroundings as the emotions roiled within him and left him wrestling with himself.

It was a few minutes before five on the afternoon of April 3, 1973. Bobby Padgett turned right from Market Street onto Main Street. His anticipation was opposed by apprehension over the possibility that Sam had either forgotten him or she belonged to someone else now.

This is crazy. What am I doing here? Sam has moved on with her life. Is there a chance we can recover what we once had? Maybe we never really lost it. Forget this nonsense. Go back to the hospital. Finish your treatments.

What if Sam has been anticipating this moment as much as I have? You've come this far, Bobby Padgett; now see it through.

He forced the negatives aside. Maybe he was being selfish, but he confirmed his earlier decision to go for the miracle ending.

It was a magnificent day on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Spring had always been his favorite time of the year, but he was so consumed with his mission that he was missing its grandeur. He didn't notice the new growth nor consciously smell the accompanying aromas.

He was relieved to have the sun out of his eyes as he moved along Main Street. It was as if he were outside his body watching himself struggle in slow motion to complete this journey. Of course, he was still clothed in his body. He had made this trek in his dreams almost every day during the nearly five years he had been away. Before he was forced to leave St. Umblers, he'd physically made the trip on a routine basis from the time he had almost turned nine until Sam left to attend college. He'd last made this trip on the day before he reluctantly departed.

He tried in vain to speed up in order to reach Sam more quickly, but his legs weren't able to produce the extra speed.

Why am I moving so slow? I always used to make it to Sam's much faster! A man of 28 should make the short trip in less than half the time I've needed just to hobble this far.

For 10 years, Bobby had lived just a short distance from the squatty little gray and yellow bus station from which he'd just come. Yet he was so driven to find Sam that he hadn't taken the time to detour by his former home to drop off his bags. He'd just left them sitting back at the bus station. They could wait. After all, who needed them? There was nothing in them that was important to his quest. They were just stuff, and stuff is easily replaced. He was on a life-altering mission.

As Bobby made his way along the street, his mind kept racing.

It's been over four and a half years since I've seen Sam yet I know she's as beautiful and caring as ever.

He and Sam had been virtually inseparable from that day in April of 1954 until his journey began in June of 1968. Now it was 1973, and those 19 years seemed like an eternity to him, yet he remembered it all as vividly as if it had happened only a second before. Here he was ready to renew the wonderful relationship Sam and he once had.

At least, he hoped it would work that way.

As he looked ahead, everything on that street appeared the same as it had in his dreams, which were playbacks of those trips to Sam's house during his youth. He was familiar with the saying that only two things are certain in life. He had decided that taxes was not one of them, as the adage had long claimed, but that the adage's proclamation about death had certainly proven true. The other truth he had found was that change is inevitable. That was the absolute he was resisting. Bobby was taking in the sleepy little haven against time, seeing it the way it had been, not the way it actually was.

The first thing that really caught his attention was the red and white spiral pole outside Jerry's barbershop. It sparked memories of happy days. The first smile of the day came across his face as he visualized Jerry Creech, the kindly gray-haired friend who had cut his hair from the time he was six.

He continued past Mr. Michael's Grocery Store on the left. Then there was Doug's Diner where he occasionally ate cheeseburgers with mayonnaise and slaw that dripped brown homemade chili. Other times he enjoyed chili dogs with slaw. And oh, those golden grilled cheese sandwiches that Doug used to make. Those had been among his favorite foods when he was a teenager.

He moved past Nelson's Clothing Store. He was certain he saw Mr. Nelson inside neatly folding a new white shirt as Bobby had often seen him do. Mr. Nelson had treated him as if he were rich instead of the poor boy he was. He considered stopping to say hello, but chose not to. He had no time. He had an important mission to complete a lifelong destiny to fulfill.

After he passed Nelson's, Bobby realized that this trip was different from those of his childhood dreams. This trip was difficult. It was never difficult in those dreams when he always glided effortlessly up Main Street. Today, he was tired already.

Then in the distance, he saw a woman coming toward him. He had not expected to see Sam coming down the street.

This is a mature woman all filled out. She's not the 22-year-old I pictured every day. I'm just now realizing I didn't allow Sam to age in my dreams. I didn't know how to have her age. Or was it that I was afraid to let her age? I know how women change as they get older. Was I afraid she would take a different direction if she did? No, I had to hold on to her just the way she was. I had to; it was critical.

However, there was no doubt it was Sam. He would know her anywhere, any time. Though his vision was clearer in his dreams than it was now in real life, there was no mistake. That was Sam.

Then there were doubts.

My Sam? Am I her Bobby?

Despite her new bearing, Sam still had the tiny waist he remembered. She had those long beautiful legs and that energetic, playful step. The long jet-black hair still bounced in rhythm with her step. In fact, he watched her hair move in unison as she walked so that it looked like a sheet of the finest heavyweight charmeuse silk when the sun reflected off it. The scene was right out of his memories.

She was just over three blocks away, on her way to be with him again, as she had been in the past.

He tried to speed up, to run and embrace her. However, his body resisted.

Suddenly he paused.

How does she know? How does she know I'm home? Today? How is it possible? No one knows I'm home; how could they? No matter, the Fates found a way to alert her.

Although Sam and Bobby had started to drift apart in college, they came back together when he received the notice of his impending departure.

Is it possible that the old seemingly telepathic signals between us still work? If so, of course, she of all people would know of my return. She would even know that I'm marching up Main Street to find her at this minute. She would be here to meet me. She obviously hasn't seen me yet or she would be racing toward me, to hug and kiss me. To welcome me home.

They had been so close once; she had to know. After all, that would only be natural.

He moved a few steps further to the street corner. His nervousness forced him to question himself.

Will Sam have to rescue me again? Will I be that nervous? No! Absolutely not! I know how I am going to tell her for the first time that I

His racing thoughts were interrupted by the rude blare of a car horn warning him that he was about to step out into oncoming traffic. He waited for the white Cadillac, a model unfamiliar to him, and the contrastingly small sky blue 1961 Vauxhall four door sedan to pass. The Vauxhall looked to him like a shoebox with a cockpit among the big cars on the streets of St. Umblers. He remembered having owned one once.

As he waited, Bobby noticed something seemingly out of place. Something so surprising that it rapidly sucked away his energy and left him dumbfounded. He looked at the street sign again. It should have said Elon Street. It didn't! Bobby looked once more to be sure. He read the words Bobby Padgett Street.

Why on Earth would there be a Bobby Padgett Street? He almost shouted the question out loud. This is Elon Street. Can I have forgotten something like that?

The greatest achievements of his mediocre athletic career had taken place on Elon Street. Yes, it was true that he had a few modest accomplishments in football, basketball and baseball at St. Umblers High School a mere three blocks away. He had run track as well.

I occasionally had modest moments on the playing fields; primarily as a pitcher on the baseball team before I hurt my arm. I was never even close to being a star in any sport. There's no reason to think that a street was named for me because of my athletic prowess. I was a fair student at St. Umblers. They don't name streets for students. Why do the letters on that sign spell my name? Why would anybody name that street, any street, for me? Or did they? It must be named for some other Bobby Padgett. Who could that be?

It seemed strange, but he had found that when faced with a fight or flight situation, one frequently revisits life's defining events while time appears to stand still. This was one of those moments. His accelerated pulse rate confirmed that. It was almost terrifying! This was absolutely a fight or flight situation if he had ever had one. And he had certainly been in some. More, in fact, than he cared to remember.

 

 

Bobby Becomes Bob Copyright 2009. Bob Boan. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

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To order this book:
Format: PDF, HTML, Palm
    Payment Method
PayPal -or- Credit Card -or- eReader -or- Fictionwise -or- OmniLit -or- Sony eBookstore
List Price: $6.50 USD

Format: Trade Paperback
    Available now!
Order this book via check or credit card  
~ or visit ~ Amazon;  Bamm.com;  Barnes & Noble  Borders;  Indy Bookstores
List Price: $18.95 USD

 

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  Reviews

"This is a heartfelt story of a young southern boy's journey into manhood and all that entails. The realistic characters and circumstances are so poignant that they will bring tears to your eyes."
Julie Eason Campbell
 



 

 

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