And he stopped. For a moment, he stood frozen staring out at the town; it was just as he remembered. McGilligan’s Tavern which had been owned by her family stood on one corner; the little brick building outlined in Christmas lights. There was the small diner in the center of town, The Jailhouse Stop, which was once owned by an old couple who wore blue suede shoes every day of the year in honor of their hero, Elvis. The hardware store with the giant picture of the owner Roy on its sign was still there. Roy had served the best chocolate biscuits imaginable which was unusual for a such a store but Roy, who had agreed to take over the family business when his father fell ill, secretly harbored a desire to be a pastry chef. The biscuits and his famous holiday brownies were as close as he got to keeping his dream alive. From where Joe stood, this place he had longed to leave so long ago appeared to be the one area of the world that had yet to be changed by corporate giants and consumerism and he found himself quite surprised to be so thankful for it.
Then his eyes fell upon the flower shop she had worked in when they were teenagers. He remembered the way her hair once carried a faint smell of fresh Earth and strawberries. With that thought, he felt a tug at his feart and an unexpected urge to run. The last time he’d seen her she’d been standing in front of those very windows. Things had been so different.
“I’m cold,” she’d said, clutching her coat tightly around her.
“Yes, you are.” Those were the last words he’d said to her. He remembered the way she’d closed her eyes as though hoping to stop the pain and shuddered at the memory.
“Hey, you ok buddy?”Joe had forgotten about the friend whose name still escaped him.
“Yes, a little cold is all,” he said.
“Well, you’re not gonna get any warmer standing here. A nice pint will take the chill out of those bones so let’s get moving.”
As they walked toward the tavern, the door opened and a man stumbled out into the night. The sound of laughter hung in the air for a second before the door closed and he wondered, what were the chances that her family still owned this place? Was he ready to see her or any of them?A moment later, a second person emerged from the tavern.
“Frankie!” she called to the man stumbling down the street. He knew that voice. After all these years, he still knew that voice and before he could stop himself he shouted…..