“And then what?”
“Lord knows how anyone ever comes to accept such things as what you’ve had to accept,” Alva said. “Sometime seems like the Lord puts way too much on a person.”
Marv waited, knowing that something was troubling her, but not wanting to force her if she wasn’t ready to talk about it. That was one thing he had learned on the street. No one can make you change or erase your pain. You have to be ready to heal yourself. Then others can help. But there’s a certain misery that will not allow another to enter, no matter how well-meaning or sympathetic that person might be.
“Years now,” Alva began, “oh, longer than I even know how to count them up, I been wonderin’ about my son that I give away at birth. Years and years I been wonderin’. I thought about it almost all the time for a long time. Then it settled back into the background and I went about my life. Then it come back to me like a dream I kept on havin’. I just kept thinkin’ and thinkin’ about findin’ him and all.”
“Is that what’s worrying you now?” asked Marv.
“Yes and no,” Alva said. “Now he done been found by that McSweeney fella. Said it was easy findin’ my boy. Said he been livin’ not far from here all these long years. Which is, I guess, what set my mind to workin’. Maybe I’ve seen my boy sometime. Or maybe the people who kept him. Or maybe they come into my restaurant at some time. I just keep thinkin’ and thinkin’ about it. And in all them years I never once thought about the main thing, about the thing that’s got me riled up now.”
“What’s that?” asked Marv, who was standing by the fireplace with the little clock off to his left shoulder.
“In all them years of thinkin’ about findin’ my boy, I never once considered what would happen if I was to find him,” said Alva.
“That’s right,” Marv said. “We all go through life thinking, if only I could start again. Just run off, give everything away, start fresh somewhere else, get a better job, a different wife, be something else. But we never really think past the leaving part. We never ask … and then what?”
“I guess you never know the answer until you take that step,” Alva said. “Ain’t no way I’m ever goin’ to know what will happen until I just go ahead and see.”
She drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Marv moved toward the door and slapped his leg for Bugs to come. Bugs rose up from where he had plopped down. Before he went to Marv he came over and put his head on Alva’s knee, looking up at her face with his brown eyes. She stroked his ears, all the while hoping that she would be strong enough to withstand whatever came of her meeting with her boy, Moses.
“Sometimes I think the animals, they can read people better than the people can read each other,” Alva said.