It was the usual
January weather in the Sacramento Valley, thought Jack Evans, dark, rainy and
dismal, appropriate enough for another year of the pandemic. He was in the
patio of his house in the Northern Californian retirement community having a
second cup of coffee; his wife Blanche was in the front of the house doing one
of her watercolor paintings. They hadnt said much to each other at
Evans had retired
before the pandemic and become a free-lance writer, doing a column for their
communitys newspaper and also stories for online magazines. He
recalled a story hed written a few months before about a walk hed
taken on a nice fall day. Hed encountered another retiree working
on his front line to get away from his wife, a woman grumbling about not
hearing from her children and an old man in a wheelchair ranting about the
entire country going to hell.
Each of these persons,
hed thought, had been affected by the coronavirus and hed written a
story hed called A Pandemic Walk.
Now he felt that the
pandemic had gotten to him. He and Blanche had had a spat last night
about what to watch on television. They hadnt heard from their sons in a
couple of weeks. He also felt the country was going to hell. They called it
pandemic fatigue. Of course supposedly a vaccine was on its way but who
knew when it would come. He hoped that like everything else in this
crazy time that wasnt messed up,
Blanche opened the door
to the patio and said, Lets go for a walk.
Its letting up. Come on. We havent been
out of the house in weeks.
He reluctantly got
up. All right, he said.
He went to the closet
and found his raincoat, not used since last winter, and a hat. Blanche
was waiting in the hallway in her raincoat and a woolen hat with a
tassel. He thought she looked cute. Lets go,
They walked down into
the street. Where are we going? Jack asked.
Lets go to the pond.
The pond was on the
retirement communitys golf course about half a mile away.
All right, lets go.
They walked without
talking along the silent street. Nobody else was
about. One or two cars passed. At the pond all was
quiet. No ducks, nothing else. Then Blanche said, Look, a
heron. It was there, right at the edge of the pond only about six
feet in front of them. The heron must have heard Blanche because it
suddenly took off and glided gracefully to the other end of the pond where it
landed and stood motionless. Blanche and Jack looked at each other
but said nothing for a while. Then Blanche said, That was
Uh, huh, said Jack.
They walked back
slowly, hand in hand.
Maybe Ill write a
story about this, too, thought Jack.