A Mindful Death - Lars Bolin - ebook

A Mindful Death ebook

Lars Bolin

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Opis

In the summer of 1944 a family from Perugia, Italy, finds itself in a desperate situation that will shape their lives for years to come. "A Mindful Death" takes a group of disparate people on a journey to New York at the end of World War II, via Marseille France. The patriarch of the family has kept a secret for over seventy years until 2015, when he finally assures himself that it is safe to tell the whole story to Harry Anderson, a travel writer, and photojournalist. Harry, by chance, happens on a photo of this family with the word "arrivato" and the date July 17, 1945 inscribed on the back. What unravels is a story of passion, honor, pride, and two lovers who find joy and danger, when they arrive to Perugia. Here they locate the family member who kept the secret. With it came so much shame, regret, and suspicion of betrayal, that it made him wish he would have ended it a long time ago. Harry learns that a lot more is buried in the past and the picture when he unknowingly put himself and his loved one in danger - something he never could have predicted.

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For the “Angel” and “Snowflake” in my room

Lylian and Lynnea

The photograph reflects a moment that is happening out in the world, and also one that is happening in the minds of the photographer and the viewer. The fact that the moment is fleeing and will never get repeated ads to its appeal. A photograph acknowledges this transience.

The best ones match meaning to it.”

David Butow

Contents

Prologue – Perugia, Italy in June of 2015

Chapter One - April 3, 2015

Part I: Harry and Maria

Part II: Joe

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Four

Chapter Twenty Five

Chapter Twenty Six

Chapter Twenty Seven

Chapter Twenty Eight

Chapter Twenty Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty One

Chapter Thirty Two

Chapter Thirty Three

Chapter Thirty Four

Chapter Thirty Five

Chapter Thirty Six

Chapter Thirty Seven

Chapter Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty One

Chapter Forty Two

Chapter Forty Three

Chapter Forty Four

Chapter Forty Five

Chapter Forty Six

Chapter Forty Seven

Chapter Forty Eight

Chapter Forty Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty One

Epilogue – Cold Spring in the fall of 2015

Prologue – Perugia, Italy in June of 2015

Leonardo

The photograph stared down at him from its spot on the wall.

After all these years, the pent-up feeling of having to live his life with a secret he couldn’t share was released. With a long strenuous exhale he could finally take that deep breath of fresh air again.

He looked at it with tired eyes—eyes that had seen so much pain, so much hope vanish too many times. The feeling of tasting the end, almost making it and being so close as if he could smell the victory even before crossing the finish line.

Too many years had passed, living his life chained to a lie; a lie necessitating fits of action and forced inaction.

Many times he had felt shame, regret and suspicion of betrayal. It had troubled him to the point of wanting to end it all; but when it came to a moment of clarity, there was too much at stake. Too many people depended on him sticking to the plan - the plan only he could see through, as if everyone else’s success fell on his willingness and strength to carry on.

What if? The question he never could answer. The road he had traveled on was unpaved and one that never could, for security reasons, be paved. The only thing he could do was to travel along, keep going without looking back; without taking those exit ramps that had presented themselves to him over the years. It was painful every time he saw an exit sign, knowing very well he never could divert from the path. Now, at last, Leonardo’s comingled tormented soul had finally reached the end of the road with tears and a smile.

He reached up, grabbed the photograph, and took a last look at it before crumpling it in his right hand; the same hand that had squeezed the trigger on a Lupara short barreled shotgun, so many years before.

He looked down at his fist, still firmly squeezed in a desperate attempt to free himself. Wanting to squeeze the life and lies the photograph emitted.

He was overwhelmingly tired. He placed his head on the soft pillow, closed his eyes and realized after having kept it all inside, behind a wall of silence, that, finally, he had told his side of the story and freed himself from the heavy burden he had carried around all these years.

Chapter One - April 3, 2015

Part I

Harry and Maria

Early spring -- one of those picture perfect days when life began again after a long harsh winter. Harry grabbed his Nikon D40. In terms of high tech, the camera was a relic. Yet it had served him well over many years of travel.

Harry had just turned 57 and was still in great shape thanks in part to his travels as a photojournalist. He reveled in the thought that he spent his time documenting all that he saw in pictures and words. Over a span of 35 years he tried many varied occupations. At first he served as a guard in a correctional facility on the West coast to more recently organizing and staging fundraisers for families in need on the East coast. In between, he had worked in the corporate world in many capacities.

Like a porcupine with his coat of sharp spines, each one of them reminding himself of the hostile environment where in he spent parts of his life, and how easily he realized, one could lose direction.

No, Harry was better off now. His many years as a “renaissance man” had provided him a myriad of talents and an understanding of life; things he now used, doing what he loved most.

Women had never understood Harry’s rather complex view on life and in order to do what pleased him they often sacrificed a lot. He had never been able to sustain a long relationship, although there had been plenty of women wanting to put a stop to his wandering ways.

Harry wasn’t the settling down kind of guy. He always seemed to find it more fulfilling and challenging to view life from different angles, those that most others would not consider. Sometimes it was an impression he wanted to capture in pictures or words. The challenge he fully enjoyed, of solving a problem or mystery that no one else paid heed to or knew how to approach. He was the man you asked when something needed to be fixed or when his friends needed someone with whom to vent. He constantly occupied his mind with new ideas and thoughts of how to look at life from different perspectives. He never really understood why people seemed to think that there was only one path to follow, or one way to proceed with their lives.

On this early April morning, he left his apartment at 22 West Street in Cold Spring, overlooking the Hudson River flowing from north to south through the eastern part of New York State and glanced over to “Storm King Mountain” for the weather forecast. The saying was that if the clouds were covering the peak of the majestic mountain in the morning hours, there would be a rain storm before the end of the day.

The writer, Nathaniel Parker Willis, who in the middle of the nineteenth century had taken up residence in the region, thought a proper name for the mountain was Storm King. Today, the sun covered the peak with no clouds in the clear blue sky. It certainly was going to be a great day for photography.

“Good morning Maria.” Harry smiled and gave Maria a sideways glance as he entered her cafe.

“Good morning, my darling,” she said with true affection. At age 56, Maria’s face was still very beautiful and she possessed a well-proportioned body. She moved closer to Harry to catch the scent of his Mont Blanc after shave.

Maria was running her own café on Main Street, something she had done for over 30 years. It was the same café where she and Harry had met in as teenagers when the small shop was run by Maria’s mother. They both worked there during their high school years and it was here that they lost their virginity on a summer evening after closing, before the start of their senior year.

Harry and Maria were a couple throughout the last year of school and made sure they closed the café on as many evenings as they possibly could convince Maria’s mom to let them. Prom arrived and one last hot summer remained for the young couple before Harry was off to college on the west coast while Maria stayed and helped out her mom. The café was named Sweet Maria’s Café—a sobriquet to her daughter.

“The usual?” Maria teased him, thinking back on those summers she and Harry spent working together and making love.

“Yes, same as last time, Maria.” Harry responded with a tender smile on his face. “But make it a double, please.”

“Sure, a large latte with double espresso shots coming up.”

Maria took her time because she knew that was what Harry always wanted her to do. She always had an eye for him and the high school passion never dwindled; it just intensified over the years and made it more difficult to ignore. Time, thereafter, had too many boring and lonely evenings with or without her husband, Robert. It really didn’t make a difference with him next to her in bed or not. Her thoughts had always wandered off in time.

She was unhappily married and now with grown children, she felt liberated. Her life as a café owner in town where everyone knew each other by first names had become boring over time. But every one of those mornings when Harry came in for his coffee after moving back to Cold Spring, she felt that urge to leave everything behind and start over. Maybe one day she would.

“Thanks Maria.” Harry reached out to grab the large coffee she prepared with the usual heart shaped foam on the top. But this time he made sure he first touched her outstretched hand and time stopped for both of them. For a very short moment, they looked at each other with that same youthful, innocent expression they shared the first time they made love. And in that moment Maria thought to herself that the day had arrived to make the move and start over.

“You’re welcome.” Maria said with a voice that sounded both sad and excited at the same time. She let go of the mug, turned around and secretively put the hand Harry had touched up to her lips, her body reacted to Harry’s scent as if they reached out for each other on the kitchen floor once again.

“Bye Maria, I’ll see you tomorrow, same time. Have a great day,” Harry said as he turned around and upon exiting did exactly the same move with his hand.

With his four dollar large hot latte, he walked out on Main Street, the same way he, in 1976 with a regular cup of 25 cent coffee had left her. It was a long time ago but he couldn’t help thinking what life could have been had he chosen not to go to college on the west coast. Maria, with no other alternative than to stay home and help her mom, never got the opportunity to go to a college until later in life when she decided, at age 35, to get a degree in business. It was around that same time she took over the café from her ailing mother. Her marriage suffered from trying to run a café, taking night classes and keeping an eye on her two teenage daughter’s activities.

The 80s drug scene had changed from the 70s when Maria and Harry used to smoke marijuana in the back seat of Harry’s old Chevrolet Impala. It seemed more glamorous than that of her husband’s and later her children’s drug use. The problems facing her kids, while their dad seemed to stay away from home as much as he possibly could, gave her no time, nor desire, to be intimate with him when it so pleased him to show up. Many times, Maria thought he had affairs, and he probably did. Later they seemed to get along better, but the intimacy and sex had cooled off. She had many times thought about leaving him for Harry who never married. But Harry lived a life she never could at the time, with her responsibilities for the kids and a café she couldn’t possibly sell. After all, it was named after her. How can you sell a café named Sweet Maria when you are that person?

Harry, who had lived all over the U.S., often found himself going back to Cold Spring in the summer, if only for a couple of weeks or occasionally longer. Since his early retirement at the end of 2014 from the corporate world, he relocated for good and the move stirred up those teenage feelings for Maria he thought were long gone and forgotten. Not by a long shot.

Part II

Joe

Harry walked up Main Street. He usually took the same route when his final destination was nearby Breakneck Ridge, a demanding trail but at the end a rewarding view of the lower Hudson River Valley. He had taken numerous hikes and pictures over the years and yes, many with Maria. The early mornings, before starting their summer jobs at the café, was always the best time to hike the mountain. Lying down in the grass on the evenings they weren’t scheduled to close the café, they would stay a little longer on the mountain to smoke a joint and make love.

Today, on the spur of the moment, he stopped to say hello to his old friend and owner of Joe’s Antique Store. Joe had moved to Cold Spring from the West coast after Harry and Joe met at the correction center back in the 80s. Joe, a drug addict who was stealing money to support his addiction, was in and out of jail like a busy shopper using the rotating door at one of the fancy department stores in the city.

When Harry found out after Joe’s last release that Joe had a small business operation dealing in second hand furniture, vinyl records and CD’s purchased from estates sales, Harry suggested a move across the US to Cold Spring. This way, Harry could keep an eye on Joe before his addictions completely destroyed his life.

At the time, Joe was sinking deeper into heroin and he could no longer control his intake. Harry spent a lot of hours outside his normal lifestyle trying to help Joe get back on his feet. It was as if no one else took the time to really understand Joe’s problems, or for that matter, cared. When Harry did, it was a wake-up call for Joe to deal with his demons and start over. Joe never knew Harry’s reasons for spending hours, day and night with him. But, ever since the day he started helping him, Joe felt forever in his debt and the two of them became friends. Albeit an odd friendship.

Back in college, Harry, like almost everyone on campus, was doing drugs. This was the late seventies and nothing was taboo. Drugs, sex and rock’ n roll. It all blended in with the attempt to get a degree; something Harry succeeded in carrying out in part because he lost his best friend to an overdose of heroin in their junior year. That became his wake up call and he went cold on hard drugs.

He managed to successfully finish with a degree in Literature in 1980. Life was different back then, and now over 35 years later, Harry was looking back at the times of unrest as something that certainly had shaped who he had become and also had taught him some valuable lessons about helping others when help was needed.

Harry knocked on the door knowing very well that Joe was going to be there. He always was, even if the official operating hours were 11:00-5:00. Joe unlocked the door, the sign “Open for Business” still in clear view for Harry to see. It was never turned over. Joe had this notion that if he did, he would be turning his back on the customers. Harry never turned his back on Joe. Instead he always seemed to be there to help, whenever and wherever Joe needed him. Cold Spring had become Joe’s family and he knew that you do not walk away from your family and friends.

“Hey Harry! Great to see you. And I see you brought me a cup of coffee.” He always teased Harry because the times Joe stopped by Harry’s apartment to let him know about a new shipment of old postcards, he always brought Harry’s favorite large latte with the one extra shot of espresso.

“Sorry my friend,” Harry said. “Didn’t plan to stop by today but saw you in the window so I wanted to see how you were doing.”

Harry seemed to forget that he never brought any coffee, even if the visit was planned. Joe didn’t mind of course. He was happy that Harry took the time to stop by. Not only because they were good friends but because Joe never wanted to bother Harry with any lingering problems, knowing that Harry had done more than anyone ever could for him over all these years. He did know that Harry always was there for him if needed but preferred when Harry stopped by on his own, knowing that he would always ask how things were going with both his business and personal struggle.

“So, what’s going on today, Joe?” he wondered while casually sorting through the postcard boxes Joe had on the counter. It had become a routine at first, just to ease things up, not to stare Joe down as if he was on trial defending himself and his actions. Later, Harry had developed an interest in reading old postcards, some of which were post marked all the way back to the early 20s. There was so much to learn from them and the history of the families, their journeys, background, friends and everyday challenges.

Sometimes, if he was lucky, he found a whole box of postcards, all from the same family. Back in the days, with no telephones or at least a rarity to have one, communicating long distance wasn’t as simple as just lifting up the handle and dial, or go online to shoot off an email. Nope, good old postcards were used back then to convey a message about what was happening, where you were and where you may be heading next.

“I’m glad you stopped by Harry.” It seemed as though Joe wanted to tell his friend something that was a major issue on his mind. Since Harry had just come back from a longer than expected trip to Costa Rica, he hadn’t seen him in over a month.

“Harry, do you remember that fellow back on the West coast I was “working” with?” Joe finally began talking after waiting for a lengthy period of time.

“Sure” said Harry, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to remember. It was a guy closely affiliated with the mob.

“Well, he called me the other day.” Joe looked up and starred at Harry with sober eyes; the same eyes that couldn’t focus on one thing or person before Harry helped him turning his life around.

Harry looked at Joe with the usual, intense stare that he had used so many times over the years to fully understand what Joe meant to say, rather than what Harry heard him say.

“And…” Harry reluctantly added.

Joe was now looking away the same as he used to 30 years ago when he was embarrassed to confront Harry with his latest criminal offense or drug use.

“I don’t know how he found me.” Joe finally said after a long, tense, wait. “I mean it was no secret I left for the East coast but c’mon—he found me in Cold Spring!” “How is that even possible?” Joe was obviously upset.

“You know Joe, small towns are not necessarily the best hiding places although from what I know, you have nothing to hide.” Harry replied thinking about his own love life with Maria that was never a secret in Cold Spring.

“I know.” Joe sighed. I’m not happy about being “discovered” after all these years. Why is it that the past never seems to stop haunting me, regardless of how much I want it to go away and want to start over. It’s fucking unfair.

Joe’s facial expression revealed the depth of his despair and left Harry with no doubt about how upset his friend had become.

“Ok Joe, so what did he want?” Harry felt obliged to ask even though the answer seemed rather obvious. “To start dealing drugs again?”

“No it didn’t sound like it. That’s what was so odd.”

“Oh, c’mon Joe. What do you expect him to want from you other than being his East coast guy! Perfect cover, a former, now born again, drug addict hiding in a small town where no one knows your past - about the only thing this town doesn’t know about you!”

Harry regretted his choice of words the second after he spoke them.

Joe looked at him with disappointment, rather than with anger...

“I think he wanted some information and he somehow thought of me.” “Maybe because he knew where I lived and the information he needed was in this area of the East coast?”

Harry was taking it all in while trying his best to avoid reacting to what he thought he understood.

“So what are you going to do?” Harry thought about the day that started out so well with perfect spring weather for photography and hiking, Maria, still in love with him and life as simple as a decision about what to have for breakfast, was taking a turn for the worse.

“I fucking don’t know, Harry.” Joe seemed as lost as when Harry first met him over 30 years ago. It was then that Joe, leaning like a drunken sailor against the mast of his ship after yet another high, dialed the only number Joe was able to remember...Harry’s.

“Well Joe…I’ll tell you what I’d like you to do. You have been clean and stayed away from those guys for many years and I see no reason for you to get involved again in any way - you have nothing to hide, fear or lose by telling them to fuck off!”

It was rather obvious to Joe how furious Harry felt about the situation and right now Joe regretted having told Harry. It was unusual for Joe to feel that way. He always found it easy to confide in Harry about any serious and threatening situations in his life. For the first time he felt totally deserted and alone with his anguish.

“If it only was that easy Harry,” Joe broke the silence.

Joe suddenly felt threatened by not as much his contact on the west coast as by Harry. What Joe never could understand was that whatever he had done in the past wasn’t really Harry’s problem or concern, but his alone.

Harry immediately regretted his outburst. He knew he had overreacted but wasn’t prepared to have such a serious discussion with Joe on this beautiful morning when he had his mind set on a journey back to a joyous place, rather than dealing with Joe’s problems once more.

“Well, Joe, let’s think this over for a day or two. I’m not sure what good it would do to get involved with people you left behind so many years ago.” Harry said trying to smooth things over.

Damn. It was as if he was getting down on Joe more than he already had. Again, he felt embarrassed to even think those thoughts. What was the matter with him? He was always there for anyone who wanted to talk, get help solving a problem or get back on their feet. He now seemed to turn Joe, a good friend, away when he needed him the most. Harry shrugged it off and decided that nothing was more important than being there for his friend.

“This is what we do, Joe.” Give me the contact information for your guy on the west coast and I’ll get in touch with him explaining that you are unable to reach out to him but that you asked me to call him back. And then we will see what happens. How about that?”

Unfortunately, Harry didn’t think this through. He just wanted to get on with his morning. What did he just agree to? Contact a known mob guy on the west coast and ask him to leave Joe alone? But Harry just wanted to peacefully go back to those boxes of postcards, take that hike up Breakneck Ridge and lay down thinking about the times he made love with Maria. Just thinking about her he still felt aroused. Hell. He really messed it up back then.

“Thanks Harry.” “You don’t really need to do this.” “I can take care of it myself.” Joe knew and Harry knew this wasn’t’ true. Joe was as fragile as ever. Every day of staying away from drugs was a challenge, when his past seemed to catch up, like a dark shadow in a filthy alley, waiting to jump out and club him to make him come around and go back to the life he left. He was as helpless as that day, all those years ago, when he first met Harry.

Harry knew. And despite his wish to avoid the past and simply enjoy this beautiful April day, he would stop by to see Joe the next morning to get the contact information and make that call on behalf of his friend. But for now, Breakneck Ridge and more pleasant memories from the past with Maria were waiting.

Chapter Two

Harry didn’t sleep much that night. Thoughts of the past he really didn’t want to revisit had kept him awake. He mused about how to best help his friend Joe, without getting involved himself in what could be a messy and dangerous conversation with the west coast goon.

“Damn! Really, what can I actually do about Joe’s predicament?” he said out loud to himself.

How much did Harry really know about Joe’s past back and his involvement today? All he knew was 30 -year -old news! Maybe Frank (Harry remembered his name was Frank) was no longer involved in criminal activities. Maybe he, like Joe, had found a way out. Although, was there really a way out of the mob once you were in?

It was only 7:30 in the morning but Harry knew Maria was going to be at the café so he decided to use the back door and sneak in for an early latte and chat with her. It was yet another beautiful early spring day and he stopped for a few minutes by the river front and the gazebo to enjoy the view. The birds were singing and the morning light dressed up the mountain ridge on the west side of the Hudson River like a lace veil covering the beauty of the bride.

Maria turned around and immediately smiled when realizing it was Harry. Again, the memories from their senior summer year when they both arrived extra early in the mornings to spend the first half an hour together, reminded her about the boring life she now lived and had for some time. She thought about yesterday when Harry had looked deeply into her eyes for a split second leaving that special spell binding feeling that only Harry could evoke in her. And she decided, right then and there, that the time had arrived to make a move, a move long in awaiting. Her legs and thighs, that she had worked very hard to maintain in that same sexy shape she once had wrapped around Harry’s inviting body, felt years younger.

“What a nice surprise,” she finally was able to say after a while of staring at Harry, almost out of breath after her exciting day dreams from the past.

“I knew you would be here this early. I was on my way to Joe and after a bad night’s sleep I really needed your latte with a double shot of espresso.”

“Coming up my darling,” Maria said in her usual but today more than ever loving, serious and meaningful voice. “Slow and steady like you always want it,” she added and almost blushed saying it.

Harry moved up and stood just behind Maria, close enough for her to smell his after shave; the same one he had put on every morning since arriving back in Cold Spring to get his first latte of the day. Although not admitting to it, he was there to get his first morning glance at Maria.

Maria turned around and suddenly they were closer to each other than they had been since those summer days. Their eyes met, their faces close enough to smell and feel each other’s breath, and their lips close enough to taste each other.

Harry was the one making the first move. He put his hands around Maria’s neck, leaned forward and kissed her right below her left ear - the spot that brought her to her knees and sent signals throughout her body to want more of him. Maria gave up a sigh of delight and knew then that she could no longer resist. The only true love and passion she ever felt belonged to her High School sweetheart, Harry. She moved her right hand down Harry’s spine while her left touched his still very muscular and broad chest, ever so gently touching his right nipple. A moaning gasp of delight came from Harry’s mouth. Maria still knew the trick to get him excited and aroused although unnecessary on this very morning.

Things happened very fast. As if they were back in their teenage years, the clothes came off, their bodies intertwined on that same kitchen floor they had visited so many times, and Maria’s sexy and lean legs and thighs were once more on top of Harry’s eagerly awaiting erection.

“Slow and steady like you always want it.” Maria heard herself saying as if to remind her that she didn’t want this to end…ever.

Their love making was like a pressure cooker and the lid was about to release like a volcano erupting after years of being dormant. An orgasm was something very rare for Maria these days, and occurred only when thinking about Harry on those lonesome nights in bed. But now, having Harry once again, the dam was ready to burst.

Exhausted and satisfied they lay down next to each other on that kitchen floor they so many times had visited in the past - now a little bit more uncomfortable but they didn’t mind because the satisfaction they felt was reward enough and any discomfort of being on a hard tile floor forgettable since nothing could in any way diminish the feeling of this special moment..

Maria was the first one to return to reality.

“We found ourselves back in time, didn’t we,” Maria said, again with her usual “my darling” added at the end of the sentence but now with a very special meaning to it.

“I know, Maria.” Harry leaned over to kiss Maria but she turned away as if she wanted to avoid him. Instead she grabbed his hands, held them tight and got down on him, wanting him one more time in case this would be the last time they got the chance to make love. The same intense feeling and fear she had back then when he left for college, never to return to her the same way. She wanted to feel complete, if only for one last time. She felt his manhood grow during her skillful and playful act. She had not forgotten the things that used to drive them both crazy with lust.

“Slow and steady,” Maria moaned.

“Like you always want it,” Harry added before he, despite his age, but thanks to his physique, picked up Maria and pushed her against the kitchen wall with her beautiful, slender and sexy legs wrapped around him.

“Oh, Maria!” he was able to say before the excitement of once more being inside her took over and made them both come again.

Thirty minutes later, Harry was sipping his by now cold, but still very tasty, latte while Maria was preparing to open the café for her morning customers.

“What about dinner one evening, Maria?”

“Would love to, Harry.”

That settled it. They were not going back to anything less than what they both knew would be theirs to keep now. The dull and in many ways non-existing love life of Maria’s past was over and for Harry, he was finally back where he knew he belonged.

“Ok, great! Tomorrow night I’ll take you down to The Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry!”

Before Maria could stop him, he kissed her at the exact moment the first morning customer entered. Luckily Mrs. Rose didn’t even notice them and that was a good thing because if there was anyone in the village who made sure she knew everything and made certain everyone else got informed about the latest gossip, Mrs. Rose certainly was the one.

The early April air outside Sweet Maria’s Café felt like a cold shower when Harry stepped out. He took a deep breath, turned around to glance at Maria through the glass entrance door as she served Mrs. Rose her usual coffee, no milk but three spoons of sugar. What a waste of Maria’s great coffee, he thought to himself. He took a sip of his now cold latte, the heart still visible on the foam.

Happier than he had felt for a long time he strolled up Main Street to Joe’s. His problems were no longer like the steep hill Harry had envisioned yesterday but rather like mounting a stallion - exciting, challenging, with the ultimate goal of taming the wild “beast” on the west coast who somehow thought it was ok to engage Joe to start dealing after all those years of staying away.

“Good morning Joe!” Harry cheerfully, with the satisfaction of someone who just had gotten laid, almost screamed out the words.

“Oh, Hi Harry.” Joe turned around quickly from behind the counter, surprised and with a sweeping move put something back in the cash register before closing it.

Harry didn’t think about it then, but later he recalled the episode and could have sworn that what he saw was Joe putting a revolver in the drawer.

“You startled me Harry.” Joe seemed a little off this morning as if he hadn’t slept that well either.

“Not much of a sleep last night, huh?” Harry said looking at him with the same tired, but a lot more excited eyes. After all his morning had started off with a visit to a past much more pleasant than the one Joe and he were about to discuss now.

“I thought about what you said yesterday.” Joe didn’t look up, avoiding eye contact with Harry. “And I have decided I better call up Frank myself.” “It really isn’t for you to do.”

Harry was relieved but at the same time curious and he wasn’t going to let this pass by without knowing what Frank wanted.

“If that is what you would like to do, Joe.” Harry couldn’t believe he felt disappointed not being asked to make the call. “But let me be present when you call, would you?” he asked with a degree of desperation in his voice. Harry felt like something very interesting was about to happen. He didn’t know why but his rather well developed sixth sense told him so. Now, as if yesterday’s hesitation and lack of sleep over Joe’s predicament never happened, he felt excited about the whole thing. Maybe it was Maria that had awakened the passion for adventure - the desire to find a new reason to leave the cozy small town life of Cold Spring for a while.