Craig’s boss tapped his wrist as he passed the sound booth window signaling the time. Craig continued reading for a few lines and then, turned off the recorder and his baritone stage voice. He glanced at the clock Lunchtime! “When did lunch become the most exciting part of my day?” He shook his head and his shoulders slumped a little. Craig swung the door open and stepped out onto the sidewalk. The grey sidewalk stretched in front of him disappearing into the horizon which blended with a sky the same shade of grey. His path lead to Liz’s diner five blocks away. As a boy Craig would have been clipping through town astride a stallion or walking the streets of Bangkok. Craig grew up in a small town in Idaho but he had dreamed of traveling to the exotic places that jumped from the pages of his books. Now, books brought home the bacon and with four strapping boys, it was a lot of bacon. Dreams of exotic places turned into family camping trips but it was a good life. Craig had no regrets.
At first, recording books for the blind had seemed a noble career choice. Now with an ever tightening budget, he wondered if it was a selfish choice, especially in light of Friday’s financial bomb shell. Clay will be needing braces. Sometimes, it feels like a mouse is chewing holes in my wallet.
Craig yanked on the door to the diner and settled onto his regular stool. Betty smiled, “What’ll it be today?”
“”I’m feeling adventurous. Give me a bowl of tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of Joe.”
“You’re a regular ’Marco Polo’!” Betty joked.
“I was referring to the coffee.” Craig returned with a smile.
She swatted him with the menu before turning to pour him a cup. Craig opened a newspaper and buried his thoughts into the news and the bustle of lunchtime.
Before long the clock once again beckoned. Craig spooned in the last of his soup, tossed bills on the counter and walked the well-beaten path. He liked his job. Matter of fact, it was the only job that ever seemed right for him. He didn’t exactly choose a career. It was more like a course that had been charted for him.
As Craig headed back to work, his thoughts traveled back to Idaho. Craig had been eight years old when Tommy moved in next door. He could remember the day like it just happened. “Mom, they have kids!” he had shouted as if the circus had come to town. Then, he ran outside hoping to bump into the new neighbors and that is exactly what happened. As the movers unloaded furniture and the parents worked at cleaning the house and unpacking boxes, the children, to Craig’s great fortune, were sent outside to play. Craig stood watching from his own yard, too shy to do anything else. Sheila, the oldest, decided that they would play tag and Tommy would be “IT”. Sheila called the two younger siblings over and whispered something in their ears. They nodded to each other in a conspiring fashion. Then Sheila said to Tommy, “Tommy, you count to twenty and then try to tag us.”
“Okay” Tommy said and began to count. There wasn’t any reason for Tommy to close his eyes. Tommy was blind. Craig watched as the other children slipped quietly to the front yard leaving Tommy alone in the back yard walking around and waving his arms in front hoping to tag them. Craig spoke up then. “They all left. There is no one else here.”
“Oh.” Tommy said and then sat down in the grass.
“Hey, I know! Come over to my house and then they will wonder where you are.”
“That’s a great idea!” Tommy said excitedly.
Craig took Tommy’s arm and they hurried inside and then watched and giggled from the windows as Tommy’s brothers and sisters tried to find him. That had been the beginning of a long and happy friendship.
Craig slipped naturally from reading Spiderman comics to Tommy to reading into a microphone for Recorded Books, like his course had been charted.
Reaching the door Craig pulled it open. With a smile and in his best baritone stage voice, he said, “Well Craig, its back to the salt mines. One boy needs braces and another needs adventure!”
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