My cell phone rang. It was Jim.
“Hello. Is this Jeff? Hey, Jeff, how are you?” He was already off and running with the conversation and I hadn’t said anything yet. “I was hoping you could run me up to the garden this afternoon if you got some time later today, I don’t want to bug you or anything, but the cucumbers and the squash are ready to be picked. I drove by there this morning on my bike to check them, but I couldn’t pick any up then, not on my bike. I can’t carry very much of anything on the motorcycle.” This is how conversations go with Jim; they tend to be rather one-sided.
“I got my bike running again, put a couple of gallons of gas in the tank. Still got the problem with the tail light, though… Can you do that, Jeff? Can you take me over there, say around 4:30?”
“Yeah, Jim,” I said. “I can do that,” but he was already talking again.
“Can you? At 4:30? 5 o’clock, when the sun’s gone down a little and it’s not so hot.
I don’t want to bother you or anything. I can give you some money, I get paid later this week, and want to get a gallon of milk at Speedway; I was going to get some corned beef at Fareway too, but the prices keep going up. I had some stamps and coins I was going to get this week too, but that will probably have to wait.”
“So, I’ll see you at 4:30?” I said, trying to get back into the conversation; it’s a bit like jumping through the gaps between cars on a moving train.
“I bought some duck stamps last week. I’ll bring them to church on Sunday to show you. You and your kids. And your wife. She’s nice.”
“Yes, I think so. Do you want me to pick you up at 4:30, then?”
“4:30, yeah. If you can. The squash and cucumbers are ready to be picked and the tomatoes probably are, too, if the deer haven’t been eating them. Okay, then. I’ll see you at 4:30. Have a good day. Bye.”
“Bye, Jim,” I said, but he’d already hung up.