The Many Miles Man
Three days. Not a day less. That was my guess.
By the tight grip of his jaw, medicine I knew the man seated alone at a table next to a window in Blu had to have been on the road for at least three days.
I was almost right.
David had already been out on business for four days straight. In that time he had wound his watch to keep current in three different times zones. He wouldn’t be home again to Pennsylvania for another four days and by then he would go from Milwaukee to Chicago to Miami to Arkansas. Not the type of trip you plan for efficiency and pretty airports, view that was for sure.
David was in the sort of business where it probably made sense to wear a tie, but no way, no how did David need one. He was sure and confident and a necktie wouldn’t have proved anything worthwhile to anyone he passed by on the road. But you can be certain that if he had knotted something around his neck, it would have been as impressive as he was. With his shaved head, piercing eyes, and tight, compact frame he looked like he could have been Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luther. But something told me that David was more concerned with saving the world than destroying it.
David was a road warrior and he seemed to be winning whatever battle he had signed up for. Executive recruitment was his trade, and he was on a multi city swing finding leaders to fill voids and making clients happy. And now, for a moment, it was time for David to be happy.
David’s red wine arrived. He grabbed it with hands that looked like they could easily shatter the long stemmed glass holding the drink. He took a long sip. His strong shoulders relaxed. You could almost hear his body say, “Ahhhhhhhh.”
David stared into the night, his eyes sharply focused on the shining lights of the Milwaukee skyline. He looked like he was hatching a plan, some scheme that would be a stunner for sure. He reached for the wine. Another sip. A little more tension released from his shoulders. A little more calm in his face suggested that when he chose to, his smile would fill a room with light and wonder.
Those eyes, those piercing eyes staring into the night–they were full of intrigue, intellect and a little bit of danger. The hand shifted again, but this time it passed over his wine and headed for the breast pocket of his sport coat. He reached toward his chest. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a shining revolver at the end of his powerful grip as the hand emerged from his neatly tailored jacket. And if he wanted your wallet, you would have given it happily and thanked him for the honor of choosing you to stick up.
As his hand emerged from his jacket, a phone appeared in his palm instead of a weapon of mass destruction. I somehow imagined that David was actually capable of doing even more damage with his phone than any chamber full of bullets. He lifted the screen at an angle and typed. He waited.
A moment passed.
Then a smile.
I offered a hand and said hello. His fingers could have crushed the meta out of my carpals, but instead he warmly accepted the friendly gesture. After four days, it wasn’t the worst thing to see a smile coming back at you in a comfortable place on top of the city and a few floors above the bed where you’d hang your head.
“Everything okay with you?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said David. “I miss my wife. I always miss my wife.”
It was nice to know that the most impressive gentleman in the joint was simply pining for his sweetheart.
We traded pleasantries and I bid him a good night. Glancing back a moment after saying goodbye, I saw him smiling down at his phone. His wife had written back, something sweet, something funny, something that deserved another pull of wine.
I asked the waitress to send him a glass of whatever he was drinking as soon as he was ready for his next. David had many more miles to go, but tonight, alone in the dark he earned a quiet moment to remember that he’d be home soon enough to say, “I love you, oh yes I do.”