Post 63: On The Road To Romania – Postscript
It was almost a year after our trip when I ran into Dr. G again. Due to health issues I was not working and on disability. We hugged and excitedly caught up on our families and lives. With time short I asked, “Dr. G, you never told me what happened to the second car, the one I drove. Who bought it?”
A quick look of chagrin crossed his face, his eyes briefly looked away, then his huge grin erupted and his eyes twinkled, “Beeal, you know what? The paperwork for ze car not too good and my friend couldn’t sell it. Not to worry though, he keep trying.”
When I first started writing this, sixteen years after our trip, I couldn’t remember the name of the village Dr. G was raised in. I spent hours studying the Romanian map, used Google Earth, tracked various routes and estimated driving time from Bucharest all in an effort to pin down which tiny village we visited. Badosi seemed to best fit my memories and calculations, so I went with it. It may not be the correct one.
I also tried to find Dr. G. I was quite sure he was no longer practicing in the Chicago area. White pages.com gave me two addresses: his old one in the Chicago suburbs and one in Florida. I sent the same letter to each of them, briefly updating him about my life and telling him I was writing about the trip and included several questions about details, which included the town of his youth. I did not receive a response and neither of the letters returned.
Three months later, I answered my phone displaying a number unfamiliar to me. “Is this Bell?” The voice soft, older, slightly slurred.
“This is Bill Mathis, who is this?” I warily responded.
“I get you letter. I just get home from three month in Europe and catch up on mail. What a nice surprise…”
“Dr. G!” I yelled. “It’s so great to hear from you. What are you doing now?”
“How iss Cheryl?” He asked, his voice still slurred, sounding more from wine than a stroke or health issues, though he is in his late seventies now.
“We’re divorced. Several years ago.” I responded, slightly confused as I’d stated such in my letter, plus thought Cheryl had informed him before he left the clinic.
“Well, I divorced too. Women, what you going to do. I no want one living with me anymore, maybe just for short times, for a little companionship, you know?” He chuckled. “I travel out of country most time now. Hey, why you not come down to see me in Florida? I’m here for couple more weeks.”
“I’d love too. Say, I have some questions about our trip, some details for the story I’m writing which I’d like to clear up.”
“Beeal, you come see me we half good time. You have my number now, right?”
“Yes, I have it, and your Florida address, listen…”
“Beeal, I leave for Chile in few weeks. It’s awfully high down there, hope my body can deal with it. You could come with me.” Then with a garbled giggle, “Hey Beeal, you can still drive, right?”
I laughed and assured him I still drove. The conversation ended shortly after. He never addressed the questions in my letter nor seemed aware of several other things of significance I mentioned. I figured he read his mail like he read his maps.
Several weeks later I saw Cheryl and told her about speaking with him on the phone. Though divorced, we have a wonderful, amicable relationship.
She laughed and half snorted. “Oh My God! Yes, he’s divorced! Especially after he moved to Florida with some bimbo who was his mistress. I think his wife put up with a lot. This one wasn’t the first.”
I tried to keep a straight face, “He’s going to Chile. He wants me to go along and help drive.”
“Oh Lord, not you two clowns together. Not again!” Cheryl roared with laughter.
“Well, let’s put it this way, nothing was planned before he hung up.” I was laughing too. “But, I did think about it,” I paused. “For a few seconds.”
I plan to be off a few weeks recovering from a long cruise. Hopefully I will soon begin posting excerpts from my next novel. Stay tuned!