The Stranger's journey has now come full circle.
Join me in the bright sunshine at When Words Go Free...

There are still stories to be told.
Read them at The Stranger Looks Back.

For Crying Out Loud

I thought she was the most beautiful girl on The Main. She probably wasn't of course, but I thought she was. "Exquisite" might be a better word. She approached me as though she took it for granted that I had already decided to go with her. She was right.

The first time was business as usual. The second time I saw her was... different. We did things we weren't supposed to do, things that lovers do. Tender things. I don't know if she felt what I did, and I never asked. I told her afterwards that I couldn't see her like that anymore. She said simply, "I know," and it never came up again.

After that, we would hang out, grab a bite every so often, sometimes have a drink or two. I took her out for her birthday. Once,  she invited me over for breakfast. We talked, we laughed, she told me how she got there. It always killed me a little, what she did, but I knew enough to leave it alone.

We'd known each other about six months when I got home from a vacation to find my answering machine full. She was in the hospital. I didn't call, I didn't even unpack, I just went. She had been stabbed. She was barely conscious when they had found her. They told her she was lucky to be alive. She didn't look very lucky.

She had nowhere to go, so she stayed with me while she recovered. I took care of her, and she took care of me. We never touched each other, except when I dressed her wounds. It was a tiny apartment with only two beds and I had a part-time roommate, so when he was there we would have to double up. One night, she said I could sleep in her bed. I muttered something unintelligible, stayed where I was, and regretted it for a long time afterwards. It never came up again.

Her wounds healed. We both knew that she couldn't stay, that she had to leave the city to get away from where we had met. She went back to her home town, got a job in a department store, went back to school. We spoke regularly. When my father died, she was the first person I called. I wouldn't have been able to make the drive otherwise.

For years, we kept in touch, visited each other every few months. Over time, we drifted apart. She got a boyfriend, I got a girlfriend. The visits stopped, the calls were less frequent. The last time I ever spoke to her was when I told her that I was getting married. As I hung up the phone, I knew that it would be.

For crying out loud
You know I loved

Song on the Radio.

In the soundtrack of his life there, that song clearly represented that particular time.  Not only because of its lyrics, classically appropriate as they were (although he was never really sure if he should think of them as directed at him or from him), but of when it was played. It was played a lot, as it was at the top of the charts then, but it seemed to be played only at moments when it was particularly relevant.

Of course, there were a lot of those moments, but there were a lot of other moments as well, and it never came on the radio during those. And the radio was almost always on. Nor is it that he just didn't notice it; when that song played, he noticed it. And when that happened, it was one of those moments. It did freak him out a bit some times, although he knew it was merely strange coincidence.

When that time ended abruptly, or so it seemed to him, that song's time on the radio ended as suddenly as it had begun, as often happens with hit songs. To be sure, it was still played, but not nearly so often, and when it did, it was just as likely to be during one of those other moments. Eventually, he just didn't notice it anymore.