115 Doxtater-pt 6 (end) (Image: Thrift Store Glassware) )

Begin 6

The afternoon was sunny and cold. About 3 PM the scraping rumble of a plow clearing Doxtater Street roared by the house. Mary Kent ran to the front door to catch a glimpse of the big orange plow turning down Liberty Street. An hour later John, who had been napping on the couch, awoke to the girl’s delighted squeals when the power came back on.

“Give your house a little time to warm up,” John offered, “then we can go over and I’ll check your pipes for leaks—they’re probably frozen.” While waiting for Mary Kent’s house to warm up they finished the last of the hot chocolate and coffee. It would be the last time John would drink it for a number of years.

***

Mary Kent’s pipes were only partially frozen—there was no damage and the water was flowing freely in a few hours. While she cleaned her own house John shoveled out both driveways. The couple drove to the Mohican Market on East Dominick Street to shop for groceries. That evening she prepared a lavish supper—complete with wine and candle light. At the pre-arranged time she called John to come over.

The girl came to the door perfectly made up, dressed in a crisp, white frock, pearls and high heels. Sitting down at the table John opened the wine and poured two glasses. Mary Kent raised her glass.

“Here’s to two unhappy, confused people,” she exclaimed, “who somehow found each other in the midst of darkness, cold and loneliness.”

John took a sip of his wine then raised his own glass.

“Midway upon the journey of our life,” John recited from The Inferno,

I found myself within a forest dark,

For the straightforward pathway had been lost.”

“But maybe now,” John continued, “we can both get back on a more straight forward path. I’m not very good at being a sneak and a hypocrite.”

Mary Kent’s dirt-bag husband returned a few days later. It was unclear to John whether she threw him out first or he told her he was leaving her for some woman who managed a trailer park in Old Forge.

Shortly after her separation Mary Kent found a job as a substitute teacher for the Oneida County School system and John helped her move to a cozy, much less expensive, basement apartment a few blocks away on Embargo Street. Less than a month after starting to work for the school system she was dating a young assistant principal and had taken steps to complete her degree at SUNY Herkimer County Community College 30 minutes from Rome.

Vera and Sam would not make the move to Rome for nearly two years. During that time John began flying back and forth between Griffiss and Columbus AFB in Mississippi on MATS flights twice a month. He read another 20 classics and spent some time in counseling discussing his impulsive, self-defeating behavior and life goals. Shortly before Vera and Sam moved to Rome, John retired with 22 years of service and went to work as a civilian employee at Griffiss.

Mary Kent finished up her bachelor’s and immediately began work on her master’s in clinical psychology, eventually she would find work as a therapist at Marcy State Hospital in Marcy, New York—about 25 minutes from Rome.

After Vera and Sam (by then age 8) moved to and settled into the new community, Mary Kent became Sam’s favorite baby sitter and soft-ball coach. About a year after divorcing her first husband, she married her assistant principal boyfriend and moved into a beautiful, two-story home on George Street. By the time Sam started at Staley Junior High in East Rome, Mary Kent had a two-year old toddler named Theseus (his nick name was “Theo,”) who Sam began baby-sitting when she turned 13.

And on the occasion of her thirteenth birthday—which was in November and coincidentally, the same day as the first snow of the season—Mary Kent and John gave Sam a party in Mary Kent’s basement rec. room. As Mary Kent looked on, John introduced his daughter to half-chocolate, half coffee—heavy on the cream. After one taste Sam’s eyes and face lit up with a “Wow!” expression.

She announced it was incredible and henceforth her absolute, all time favorite hot beverage. As she finished her third cup she looked at her loving father and former baby-sitter with an expression of puzzlement and asked, “How come you guys never shared this with me before? What is it—like—some kind of big secret?”

End part six. End story

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