He quit. Quit trying to track her down. Some said he should’ve stopped years ago; a wasted life. Others said you do what’s in your heart; she was in his.
They stopped talking a long time ago. He used to call her in the middle of the night. She said she was living in Bloomington, Illinois at the time. Then she told him she’d headed out West. Said she was living in California. Around Big Sur. Sleeping in different beds every night to make ends meet. Told him she had countless clients. Men who paid her well. Much better than what she was making on the phone. Talking to complete strangers about God knows what. These men she said knew her. Took care of her. He wished he had that opportunity in life.
So without much money in his pockets he took off for Big Sur. Had just enough cash to get him to Colorado. Lived on the streets of Denver for awhile. Waking up at four in the morning to do day labor. That’s when she told him her luck was running out in Big Sur. Said the men she was involved with were growing tired of her. And, she was getting older. Crow’s feet had set in.
The old man told her to meet him in Denver. He talked real pretty to her on the phone. Told her he’d leave tomorrow for California if she’d just tell him where. She hung up on him. He tried calling her back, but, she wouldn’t answer. Then she changed her number. That’s when he went crazy. Crazy with love.
In the middle of the night he got a phone call a couple of years later. It was her calling from Portland, Oregon. Asked if he could send her some money. Didn’t give her address. Just told him to wire it to her in Portland. He sent her a grand and kept just enough for a bus ticket out there. He knew in his heart of hearts he’d find her. Knew she’d be waiting for him; fool’s errand.
The woman took that money and bought herself a junker. An old rust bucket Ford that got her all the way to Chicago. He kept calling her from all over. Spent time in Portland, Northern California. Picked grapes with Mexicans. She continued sleeping with strange men. They were both worn out. Life played them both.
Again, one night at midnight, she called him. He was asleep with twelve other men in a tin shed. Dirt was on the floor. I need another loan, she said. I’m keeping track. Just send me five hundred, she told him. That should be enough, she begged.
Send me a picture, he said.
You don’t want to see me these days, she cried.
Send me a picture of you in a nice red dress. With flowers in your hair. Let me see you, he said. I just want to see you.
She hung up the phone and never called him again.