Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter XIX: Band-Aids
Band–aids are good sometimes. Physically band–aids can stop the bleeding, cover a wound and protect the injury for a while. Sometimes, if the wound isn't sterile, they can hold the infection in, not allowing air to the area and complicating matters. On a truck, when you "band-aid" the vehicle you can get the few miles you need to buy time until the truck gets repaired. If it's a band–aid job that actually tears something up or aggravates a problem, it just compounds the trouble more than if the problem was fixed properly in the first place.
A band–aid. I slipped myself a couple of extra painkillers to bandage my internal agony of having to face the woman I had led on. The worse part was that I still had some feelings toward her underneath the bandage. My foggy mind became foggier, buying me extra time. I soon forgot where I was and drifted off into unawareness. Groggy sleep was my band–aid to get me down the road a few miles until I could figure something out. As my prediction unfolded, I was covered with a blanket to be left to sleep over for the night. However, I was covered and tucked gently in by Kathy rather than my mother.
Several times I faintly woke for a few moments and found the soft, gentle smell of Kathy's hair as her head lay on my chest. It gave me comfort and healing. She had been there all night sleeping on the floor with her head upon my chest as I slept on the couch. The sun crept through the blinds until a slither of light directly shone into my eyes.
Awake. No sleep. I pretended for a few moments, tried to fall asleep again and then finally gave up. I reached for Kathy's hair and felt her hair through my fingers, and painfully bent over and kissed her head. Her fragrance was so sweet and her spirit spoke gently––the one who had nursed me to health. She didn't really do anything. She was just there and in this world sometimes that is all that counts.
I lay there looking at her hair, her forehead, her nose and her lips. I never realized how beautiful she was. I cupped her head and held her closely. She soon woke up smiling, glad I was awake. She said how worried she was for me and thankful I looked better that morning. The infection flared up in my mind. The emotions of guilt oozed through as my mind started roaming between the girl I'd left in Nebraska and the one I held gently. Did I use a band-aid on a dirty wound? How infectious would the wound become?
I breathed in a deep breath, allowing the fragrance from Kathy to come in. To bring in that comfort and security. The security of being loved. The comfort of having someone there. My band–aid didn't buy me a few miles. I somehow turned on the wrong turn and was lost and without directions. I gently stroked her hair, wondering what I had done. How could I involve myself with two women at once? Both looking at me. Both expecting me. Was I really a monster? I felt like one and yet I could not help but to hold on to security by gently holding Kathy close.
The house soon came alive with voices and noises: my parents talking, the coffee machine belching and gurgling, Kathy's kids running, and people and cars busy greeting the day just beyond the windows. It felt like life, not the gloominess of the night before; it felt good! I was completely exhausted and worn out and yet I wanted to get out and do something. To explore ancient ruins, mountain paths and walk along trails holding Kathy's hand along the way. And Alice's too. There came the confusion. Guilt. I sat at the table with small talk as I drank the strong, familiar coffee I grew up with. It felt good. Kathy told me her mother would keep her kids for a few days in case she needed to help me along. My mind spoke. My voice spoke, "Let's get away for a few days, Kathy."
She nodded and smiled. We sat there looking at each other silently drinking coffee. We were still there as my dad left to work his chores and my mother went to work. Kathy did the dishes and we went outside to greet the day. Kathy took the kids home and packed them for a few days to go to their grandmother's house. I packed for a trip to the mountains for a few days and Kathy packed as well.
The kids were dropped off and Kathy and I were alone traveling down the road. Hills surrounded us, jutting sharply into the sky. Various colors of greens and browns and reds blended and clashed in the background. Horses ran, cows grazed, birds twittered and travelers buzzed along. I looked over at Kathy, smelled her sweet fragrance and saw her beautiful hair and face.
And then I remembered. I remembered Alice and reaching over to kiss her. Startling her. The tumble we took off the highway. The wreck. The hospital. I felt my stomach tighten and the confusion coming on. The infection inside grew.