Changing Directions: A Short Story, Part 2
Making a Decision
When Raha stood up he took one long last look at the river. He knew he would never be there again. As he turned to walk away he saw someone coming down the path toward him. How strange he thought , he had been coming to this same spot for years and had never saw another soul. "How you doing son" the old man asked . "I was just leaving" Raha replied. "Where you headed?" "I really don't know" Raha answered. "Well, you'll know when you get there."
When Raha got to his truck he had no idea where he was going but he knew he had to tie up a few loose ends before he left. He stopped by his house, the only home he had ever known. He went inside and sat at the kitchen table. He wrote a letter to Randy saying that he had to have a change of scenery. He told Randy that he didn't know where he was going but that he was just going somewhere different. He addressed the letter to the U.S. Army, hoping they would know where to find Randy. He packed a light bag and drove to town. He mailed the letter.
Next he went by to see the man who had been a father figure to him since his own father had walked out. Mr. Gammon was the owner of Gammon Grocery and the man who had given Raha a job when he really needed it. Mr. Gammon was busy with a salesman when he got there so Raha passed the time looking at the magazine rack. He picked up an outdoors magazine and began to thumb through it. There was an article about how to make it in the wilderness alone and another about becoming a bush pilot in Alaska. He flipped a few pages and saw an article about fishing in Key West when he heard Mr. Gammon call his name.
Raha talked with Mr. Gammon for a long time. He explained how he felt trapped and that he really needed to get out of Idaho and away from the river. Mr. Gammon listened for a while and asked, "but where will you go?" Raha said, "I don't really know." Then, holding up the magazine Raha said, "Key West looks nice, maybe I'll go there." They shook hands and Raha told him that he would stay in touch. He got in his truck and began to drive east.
Raha took a deep breath and thought to himself, "do I really want to go to Key West?" He began to wonder if he even had enough money to make it that far and what he would do when he got there. He also realized that he had no idea of the route he should take to get there. He pulled in at a gas station for gas, but mostly to buy a map. He filled up with gas and sat in his truck looking at the map. The best he could figure it was about 2,600 miles to Key West. He pulled out his wallet to count his money. He figured up about how much gas this trip would require and about how many hours it would take to drive 2600 miles. He stopped and thought for a minute. Did he really want to do this? Did he really want to drive 2600 miles and not know anyone when he got there? He also had no idea where to find a job when he arrived either. He thought about the old man he had passed on the path at the river. "You'll know when you get there" the man had said. With that thought Raha pulled onto Interstate 80 East. He was on his way to Key West.
"Help me, Raha please help me!" the voice screamed. Raha again woke to a cold sweat. The same dream. Still, after all this time, the same dream. Raha had pulled into a rest area to get some sleep. He decided to sleep in his truck instead of spending money for a hotel room. He was dead tired but hungry as well. He pulled back onto the road and began to drive again. Not far down the road he saw the lights of a Diner. He pulled over for a quick bite and a cup of coffee. As he walked in he noticed only three other people inside. The cook, the waitress, and one other customer. He sat on a stool and ordered breakfast. It was 3:30 AM.
"Where you headed?" the waitress asked Raha. "Florida," he replied. The waitress said she had never been there but always planned to go someday. She asked him why he was going to Florida. Raha thought for a minute, and with a half smile replied "I'll know when I get there."
Three days later Raha was in Key West. He was 27 years old and this is the first time he had ever saw the ocean. Sure, he had seen pictures but this was different. He had never saw anything so beautiful he thought. He walked around town in amazement. He had wondered during his drive if Key West was where he wanted to go but the closer he got the more Key West seemed to be drawing him in. He sat down on a bench and thought about his life. He thought about Randy and how desperately he would love to see him. He thought about his dad and wondered if he were alive or dead. He thought about Cassidy and how she would have loved this place. He suddenly felt very alone.
Raha just sat there for awhile. He was in no hurry to go anywhere at all. He just watched people come and go. Just as he stood and started to walk away, he realized that he was sitting in front of the Key West Church. He had never been a very religious man but he found himself walking inside. When he got inside he just sat down and looked around. Others were kneeling and had their heads bowed so Raha did the same. He told God that if He was real he appreciated Him helping lead him to this place. That was all he could say. He just sat there and cried.
After about half an hour Raha stood and walked out. As he stood on the sidewalk a man sitting on a bench asked him "did you find what you were looking for son?" "Not sure" Raha replied. And he walked away. He realized it had been about 12 hours since he last ate so he stepped into a small restaurant. He ordered a cheeseburger and a cola.
After his meal, he walked to the beach and sat in the sand. He was staring at one of the most magnificent sunsets he had ever saw. He wondered out loud "I wonder if Randy ever watches the sunset?" Raha had not noticed the little girl who had walked up behind him. "Who you talking to mister" the little girl asked? Startled, he turned and looked at the little girl. She is beautiful he thought. "I said, who are you talking to" the girl demanded. Raha told the little girl that he was sorry but he didn't think anyone was listening. He told her he was talking to himself. The girl said that it was silly to talk to yourself and then she asked Raha his name. Raha told her and asked her for her name. I'm Amanda Brown and I am 6 years old. "That's great" Raha said. "Are you here by yourself" he asked. A voice behind him answered "No, she's with me" Raha turned to see who was there. He was dumbstruck. He was looking at the most beautiful woman he had ever saw.
This is the end of part 2. Check back in for part 3.