John's Walk by Bob Vince Jr

An Excerpt


The Bus Ride

The morning silence is broken by the alarm going off near the bed. As a hand emerges from the covers to turn off the dream crasher, two young girls burst into the room and jump onto the unsuspecting sleeper. Their mother, Mary, emerges from the restraint of the covers and counters the tickle attack from the girls, but after about ten minutes throws up her hands.“I give up!”

The girls jump off the bed and give themselves high fives, as they giggle, heading back to their rooms to get ready for school.

Mary collects herself, with a smile over the surprise wakeup call and heads to her bathroom to get ready for the day.

She gets dressed and heads downstairs to prepare breakfast and pack lunches, but as she descends the stairs, Mary stops at the family portrait to look into the eyes of her husband, Randy. She can’t believe it’s been two years since his unexpected death. As she touches the picture, a single tear betrays her emotions. Then she hears the girls rustling around and continues her mission awaiting her in the kitchen. Another tear caresses Mary's cheek when she hears the girls coming down the stairs.

“Good morning Daddy,” they say as they make their way into the kitchen.

***

After breakfast, Mary assists the girls into the family car and head off to school.

“Remember Grandma is picking you up after school, mommy has school tonight.”

As she looks into the rearview mirror, she notices the girls’ disappointment that she won’t be home until they are in bed tonight.

It’s been a rough road since Randy died, and she decided to go back to school to get her paralegal degree. She’ll be done soon and will have more time for the girls.

After dropping the girls off, Mary heads to the city garage to start her shift as a South Olmsted City bus driver.

As she arrives, she’s met by Joe, the dispatcher, he tells her of some construction along her route. After the normal pleasantries, Mary climbs aboard to start her day. She places the picture of her girls’, Tracy and Elizabeth, on the dash and says a silent prayer for a safe day. Then she says a small prayer of thanks for her mom, Lacy, who helps with the girls.

***

Halfway through her day, she picks up a man on Main and Seventh.

“Does this bus go to Swan Park?” he asks.

She’s taken back for a moment, then with a slight stutter, assures him that it does. He takes the seat right behind Mary and after a few minutes, he asks her if she was alright?

She tells him that the place he mentioned holds very special memories for her and her family. Then for no apparent reason, she recounts the last time her and Randy were there with the girls.

“It was the Fourth of July, just over two years ago; we took the girls to Swan Park for the day’s festivities. The day was perfect for a picnic and we claimed a spot near the pond to watch the fireworks later that night. Randy had made the picnic basket, being he was a professional chef and was passing out the sandwiches to everyone. It was then he said a short prayer thanking God for such a beautiful day."

Mary pauses a moment to see the man listening with interest, then continues.

"After lunch the girls headed off to the playground area with their cousins, so Randy and I took this opportunity to take the swan boat ride around the enlarged pond. While holding me, we traveled aimlessly around the enclosed waterway; he told me how lucky he was to have me and the girls in his life and how much he loved us."

"That was kind," the stranger remarks.

Mary nods. "Randy was that kind of man." She then goes back to her tale.

"As we approached the small bridge, he brought me close and kissed me. As I was falling back into his arms, he placed this necklace." Mary touches the necklace around her neck. "On me to symbolize his love for all of us. We kissed tenderly again and headed back to the girls, who were waiting on the blanket for the fireworks to begin."

Mary sighs then speak once more.

"After the festival, we went home, tucked the girls in and enjoyed being husband and wife for a while. The next morning, I went to wake him and he had passed away in his sleep. The coroner said it was an aneurism, and it was quick. That didn’t subdue the pain we experienced and a new life had to happen for us.”

As Mary finishes her story, the animated stop announcer calls out, “Swan Park, next stop!”

John gets up and puts a hand on her shoulder then says, "Everything will be fine." He then exited the bus.

Mary feels the peace that she has not felt since Randy died: it was as if telling this stranger about that day relieves a deep sadness in her heart.

***

The rest of Mary’s day is uneventful and she eventually forgets about the encounter with John, but still has a sense of peace within her. As she is pulling her bus into the garage, Joe is there waiting for her.

“Mary, when you’re done checking out, please come into my office."

She is taken back, did a passenger complain about her or have those budget cuts finally come down from above. Nervous, she goes into Joe’s office and notices there is another man sitting there.

The man stands and introduces himself.

"Hello, Mary, I am city law director, Lee Henry."

"Hello, Mr. Henry," Mary answers, as she sits uncomfortably between the two men.

Just then, the bus manager, Mason, walks in and has a seat as well; he sits on the other side of Joe while Lee Henry begins to address her.

“Mary, it has come to my attention, by these two gentlemen, that you have been taking paralegal courses at the community college, and that you’re almost finished. Is that right?”

Mary manages a nod in agreement, and then Mr. Henry continues, “I want you to come and work for the city law department, our current paralegal is moving to a better position.”

Mary, now crying with relief, jumps up and hugs the three men with sincere gratefulness. "Thank you, thank you all so much."

“You deserve this Mary,” Joe tells her.

After calming down a little, she thanks, all three men again and then heads home, to tell her family before going to school.

Mr. Henry shakes Joe and Mason’s hand and then excuses himself for an appointment he needs to keep.

***

Lee Henry leaves the bus garage and heads to the Happy Burger food truck that sits just outside of Swan Park’s entrance. He meets a man there eating one of Happy Burgers Happiness sandwiches. As he sits down the man at the makeshift table pushes the burger in front of Henry. “Here, enjoy this Lee, you did well tonight. “

Lee answers, “Thanks, John.”

Then John asks Henry what he thought of his meeting with Mary.

“I think she’ll be a great asset to our department and with what you told me of her personal background I’m sure she’ll be dedicated to her job.”

“Be careful Henry, you could be working for her someday.” Then John excused himself and walked into the grayness of the coming night.

***

Mary, after asking to be excused early from a class that evening, hurries home. She is about to open the door to her house when she turns and looks into the night sky searching for it. Then she spots it- the special star she and the girls believe is her husband looking down to them.

“Well Randy, honey, it looks like me and the girls' lives are about to get much better, thank you for looking out for us, my love.” With that, she opens the door and is welcomed by her girls as she shares her wonderful news they hug and cry.

***

Outside across the street John just looks to the house that has just become happier then to the star and smiles. He then turns and walks into the night.


Book Cover

Back Cover

My Journey on this Walk

I started writing John's walk over ten years ago but, life got in the way and by the grace of God I finally completed it with the help from my friends at Deadly Reads. The inspiration for this book came from a passage I read one day that said this man wouldn't die until the second coming. Even though I gained inspiration from the Bible this is spiritual and inspirational book not overly religious.

This I hope is just the beginning of many more books, but I thank you now for your interest and feedback.

Your own Experience

Looking back on your life, do you believe you had a John help you along your walk?

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