Conversation in a Dark Truck By: Mario Piumetti

This is the second to last installment of the Andrew Ursler stories by Mario Piumetti. You can read the previous installment, Horse Sense here.

Conversation in a Dark Truck

By: Mario Piumetti

Andrew sat in the dark of his truck waiting.  He was down the street from his brother Peter’s apartment in Burbank.  It was movie night and Andrew picked up a pizza in Glendale for them to share, but when he parked around the corner of the road, he felt that he still had some time to kill before going up to his brother’s place.  A nagging feeling had been working on him for a while, ever since he’d gone to the movies with Charlotte.  He still wasn’t sure what she was thinking.  Andrew picked up his cell phone and dialed her number.  Charlotte picked up after a few rings.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hey,” said Andrew.
There was a brief pause before Charlotte asked, “Are you okay?  You sound, I don’t know, worn out.”
“It’s been a long day, I guess,” said Andrew, and then he told her about how tutoring had been rough on him, particularly with a student who tried using a minor stomachache to get out of doing his homework.  “Melodramatic little punks,” he said.
He could almost picture Charlotte shake her head as she said, “Kids these days.”
“Tell me about it.  I know why some animals eat their young.”  Charlotte laughed, an encouraging sign, but he still felt that he was in the dark, or rather in the dark and barely able to glimpse an even darker figure in the corridor.  Unsure of his steps, he sucked in his breath and said, “So I’ve been thinking.”
“Oh?”
The phrase was a signaling one telling her that Andrew had something to get off his chest.  It was too late to take back, and held too much gravity to brush away with something trivial.
“Charlotte,” he began, “when we went to the movies earlier this week, I started to think about how much I really missed you, and I kept thinking about that when we went to the stables that one time.  I still care a lot about you.”
“I was thinking that too,” she said.  “One of the first things that struck me was how my first thought was, Wow!  He’s still so handsome!  Even that first night over at the coffee shop.  And then I was surprised by how we picked up on conversation so easily.  It was like that year that went by wasn’t there at all.  But I still don’t know if I feel that way about you.”
Andrew frowned.  “I don’t understand.  How can things be so good and yet you feel so anxious?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “and that bothers me.  I can’t seem to explain it.  It’s just a gut feeling.”
The answer left Andrew feeling confused.  Not angry, just perplexed, because what Charlotte said seemed to contradict logic.  Two plus two equaled four.  Chocolate and peanut butter made a piece of Reese’s.  You know when something works, and then your gut tells you to go for it.  So why was that not the case now?
He heard her breath rustle over the phone like she was choking up, and Andrew asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.  I just didn’t want to make you upset.”
Andrew shrugged.  “I’m not sure what to do about this.  If we gave things another try, do you think it would matter?”
“I don’t know.  I don’t know,” said Charlotte.  “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying.  You never know what might happen.”
“Right.”
“How about you and I get together sometime next week?”
“That sounds fine,” he said.  Andrew checked the clock on the dashboard of his truck.  Peter wasn’t as much of a martinet for punctuality as he was, but the pizza was startling to cool off a bit and, really, how the hell long does it take to pick up dinner?  “I need to go, Charlotte.  I’m hanging out with my brother tonight.  I’ll talk to you later though, okay?”
“Sounds good.  Have fun.”
“I will,” he said, and then he hung up, his spirit uplifted a little more than it had been a few minutes ago.

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