Back at the Tarkington Road farm house, after their Pastime lunch, there was a new spring in David’s step as he hung his coat in the entry hall. Jerry noticed the change at once. In the living room both he and Marian were surprised when David chose to park himself in a padded arm chair next to the front window.
“Can you be comfortable there?” she asked.
“Yeah, I can. I did fine in Jason’s booth. It was straight backed and cushioned, just like this. That’s what it takes to support these ribs. This will be fine for at least a little while.”
A moment later Jerry excused himself, and Marian sat down on the sofa opposite David. Looking up at him she found him staring, tight lipped and steely eyed, directly at her.
“What is it?” she asked. “Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know. I’m still trying to get my mind around all your happy talk. I’ve spent the last few weeks convincing myself all those silly ideas weren’t real, that they couldn’t work. I thought that I’d already decided that....that it was a done deal. Then you came along and bang, I’m all confused again.”
She should have noted his lingering doubts sooner, Marian told herself. Perhaps she had done a better job of selling herself than selling him. “Why don’t we go back to square one,” she suggested.
“To begin with,” Marian continued. “I thought we agreed that neither of us wanted to be alone. If that’s true, speaking just for me, I’d like us to try what I believe they call a ‘relationship’ these days. I expect that would mean doing things together.... having fun, making mistakes, getting to know each other, and hopefully finding a way that works for us. Doesn’t that sound like something worth trying?”
Perhaps David was looking to escape when he turned toward the window, taking in the bright sunlight and harsh shadows of the rural landscape. Even when he finally found the words to reply he was not looking back at her.
“You just don’t get it, do you?” he asked. “You’re still expecting us to go off and live those dreams of yours, with you footing the bill.”
“We would be doing those things together.”
“So how would that make me be any different than that Maui fellow you told me about....the one you said was looking for a sponsor?”
Marian’s palm slammed down on the coffee table....loud enough to startle David. “Don’t you go there,” she yelled. “I didn’t come all this way to replay that song and dance.
"That ‘Maui fellow’ was looking to have a good time at my expense. I haven’t heard or seen a thing that makes me think that’s what you want. In fact, it’s been just the opposite."
“But this is different. It’s something I’m willing to fight for. I told you before that I’ve spent my whole life being the person someone else wanted me to be, doing the things he wanted me to do. I finally promised myself I wouldn’t be that person any more."
By then Marian was on her feet, pacing anxiously across the room and back.....looking for the words to make him understand.
“It goes back to that blog we were talking about. It helped me realize that it was time, actually past time, for me to be bold. That meant coming all the way to Iowa to make you understand what I wanted. I can’t say it any plainer than that. I want us to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, I want to know that I gave it my best shot.
“And I absolutely believe a part of you wants that too. But every time it feels like we’re getting close, you go off on the same old tangent. You point your finger at me and tell me it could never work, because I have a bank account. Well, that’s not fair.”
With an obvious effort David pushed himself out of his chair. Standing, while still grasping the chair back, he was finally willing to face her.
“Marian. Will you please get practical? Here you are creating a whole future for us....a happily-ever-after future. Haven’t you ever stopped to realize that we hardly know each other?”
“All I’m saying is I want us to give it a try,” she countered. “I know there are no guarantees, no sure things. But how will we ever know otherwise?”
She paused, stepping closer to look deep into his eyes. “You’re right though. Getting to know each other really well would take some time. But it probably won’t take that long to find out if we’re on the right track.”
Reaching up, she slipped a hand around David’s neck. Was he supposed to say something, he wondered. He did not. Instead their kiss, and the one that followed, seemed to express everything that needed to be said.
Marian was grinning when she leaned back. “I believe that tells me that the first time, back in Nashville, was no fluke. It’s good to know that I’ve invested my time in the real thing”
Her smile faded and she turned surprisingly serious. “You can probably tell there’s a part of me that wants to say ‘I love you.’ Each of us knows what that means to us. And I also know that it’s too soon for that. But you ought to know that I can imagine a road that leads us there. I hope you can too.”
“That’s very tempting.” He agreed. “But it doesn’t do a thing to deal with the ‘practical’ part I was talking about.”
“What does that mean?” Marian asked.
“It means that you’re full of grand ideas, like getting to know our kids again. I’ll admit that’s something I ought to do. But just think what it would mean. We’d end up traveling all over the country....running up gas bills, restaurant bills, not to mention motel bills.”
“Or perhaps a motor home bill.”
“A motor home? Are you serious?”
“Yes I am,” she answered. “I told you before, I intend to be bold. And you’re saying we ought to be practical. Seems to me a nice home on wheels would be both bold and practical. That sounds like a good combination to me.”
Clearly she was leading them toward a place he had not intended to go. While he was trying to sell ‘practical,’ she was dwelling on her own thoroughly ‘impractical,’ dreams. If quiet and subtle would not do the trick perhaps he would have to try a more direct approach. With a hand on her shoulder David was trying for a low-key, conversational tone.
“Tell me, lady. What do you suppose your daughters would think if they saw you being so bold with their father’s money....especially with a loser like me? How would that be fair to them? I’ll bet they’d have something to say about that.”
David’s blunt questions were rewarded with a hard-edged glare. For a moment he was not sure he wanted to hear her response.
“First of all,” Marian began. “There are no ‘losers’ in this room. So get that silly idea out of your head.
“Beyond that, it is my money and I’ll spend it on what and whom I want. When I’m gone what’s left, and I can assure you there will be plenty, will go to them. In the meantime it’s up to me, and hopefully you, to create our own future....one that deals with these October years of ours, not to mention November and December.”
It was a tiring thing, David reminded himself....a day so full of the Marian’s bold ideas, her bright-eyed talk of what might be. From across the room his favored recliner and the promise of a much-needed nap seemed to be calling him. Shuffling past Marian he stopped long enough for another unscripted kiss.
“I believe I could get used to that,” he said. “But the rest of it....like why you would choose me to help you spend your money....is going to take longer to figure out.” Turning, he eased himself down into the recliner and tilted it back, while Marian pulled her chair in front of him.
“You don’t have to ‘figure out’ anything.” She patted his knee. “Just relax and help us make the best of it. But we mustn’t try to hurry things. You need time to get well, to let your ribs heal. In the meantime I have things to wrap up at home. That will take a while.
“What I’m hoping for,” she added. “Is that you’ll be up to flying in another two or three weeks. That would let us get together somewhere between Tanner and Indian Falls. Seems a place like Denver, in a nice hotel room, would be just right for planning what comes next, wouldn’t it?”
“Whoa.” David pushed his recliner upright, ready to take exception. “You expect me to fly to Denver, just to make plans? Don’t forget, I just paid for a round trip to Tanner. I think I’ve tapped out my travel budget for a while.”
“David Larmer. I can see this is going to take a while, teaching you to read between the lines. In the first place, I’ll take care of the airfare and hotel. As for what we do there, I probably should have said that we need time to plan....and know each other better. Personally, I would consider that time well spent....a good investment.”
She had his hand in hers, ready with her final plea. Things appeared to be going her way....if only he was willing to follow through.
“I have to be going," she said. "I have a plane to catch. But I want you to promise that you’ll think about all this, especially how good it would be to find the purpose you say is missing in your life.
“I am absolutely certain we could have a great October together. And I know both of us want to know our families again. Beyond that, I would like us to be together when it comes time to deal with November and December. All that can happen if we can just get past those silly side issues. I hope you’ll give us a chance.”
Eyes closed, David was trying to absorb the startling events of the last twenty-four hours. It felt as though he had met a new Marian. His once-timid Tanner friend had arrived in Indian Falls with an agenda, and a surprising new willingness to take charge. Though it had been a bit unsettling at first, he could sense her new boldness, along with a kiss or two, winning his once-grudging cooperation.
“It’s hard to believe,” he finally said. “That you’d do all that just to be with a used-up old farm boy like me. Are you sure?”
“You bet I’m sure.” With a last kiss Marian turned, nodded to Jerry when they met in the hallway, and started outside to the rental car.
What did it mean? Though David had never agreed with Marian’s surprising ‘Denver’ idea.... another visit, on neutral ground, to plan their future ....neither had he argued against it. With scarcely a word on his part he had given his silent endorsement to what he could not have imagined the day before.
As Marian drove off to catch her plane he settled back in his recliner to replay their time together. How, he asked himself, could they have come so far in the course of three brief visits? On the other hand, perhaps that ought to be a red flag....a reason to slow down and proceed carefully.
For weeks, since his return from Tanner, Marian’s bank account and lifestyle had been looming obstacles....menacing realities that signaled the unwanted stigma of being a ‘kept man.’ Left to his own thoughts, he might never have seen past her financial advantage.
The last few hours, however, had produced a new sense of what might be. Her unexpected boldness was pulling him past those intimidating dollar signs.
Beyond that, he sensed a new dynamic at work ....the way Marian’s presence filled the nagging emptiness that had haunted him for so long. In a very real way she was making him whole again.
Like a magnet David was being drawn to the promise of a future with her. The ‘differences’ that had formed the heart of his resistance were losing their importance. It was time to be formulating a new logic. Perhaps, like Marian, his situation called for a new brand of October boldness.