I almost didn’t make it. I pushed all day to be ready to go at five. I would miss breaks and skip lunch and call in favors from others in the office. I had planned my route and I had timed it in my mind over and over again.
I would have to have good traffic and I would have to run down the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. I would have to log off the phone, put away my work, close the office and be out the door by three minutes after five. I didn’t dare waste a minute. I could not allow myself to get involved in conversation with anyone.
The weather was clear, looking out toward the outer-belt I could see traffic was moving along well. I would be just a little ahead of the main rush if I didn’t get held up.
Things went flawlessly. I logged off, closed the office, grabbed my jacket and keys and headed for the back stairwell. I ran through the parking lot to my car, jumped in, started the car and headed out of the lot ahead of everyone else. I knifed my old Volvo into the flow of traffic and moved immediately into the fast lane and punched the gas, speeding immediately up to seventy-four miles an hour and set the cruise. I tuned the radio to 640 to hear traffic reports. Everything was smooth. Everything now would depend on traffic and if the car would stay in overdrive. It would usually pop out of overdrive if it got too hot or if I had to take it out of gear. If I could leave it in gear and keep a steady pace I could use the overdrive all the way home.
I loosened my tie and took a deep breath. There was a semi pulling into the fast lane ahead passing another truck. I grumbled under my breath and tapped the brake to disengage the cruse control. I coasted up on the tail of the truck and waited until I could shoot around him. I carefully wove in and out of the other rush-hour traffic as the subdivisions turned to farms.
Finally my exit… off the interstate and now across State Route 95. There would be one stop in Chesterville unless I got the light and then eight miles to town. I hammered the little car and kept a sharp eye for the efficient Ohio State Highway Patrol. None were in sight. I darted around an elderly lady in a perfect old Chevy and shot around a tractor hauling a chisel plow. I gave it a little more gas and checked my watch. 5:56. “Oh, of all times I hope they are not ahead of schedule tonight.”
I prayed again as I had done over and over again that day wondering if God would answer the prayer of a man who is breaking the speed limit at the time.
I geared the car down at the edge of town. Now it was past six. I was late. I braked hard and turned left. There was no place to park. The crowed had gathered. At first I didn’t see any familiar faces. I coasted to a stop in the grass and released my seat belt and jumped from the car. I sprinted to the fence and vaulted over.
There he stood and he saw me the second I saw him. Our eyes met for a second and I thought a smile crossed his lips just for a second before he glared back at the batter, ground his heal in the rubber and tossed the first pitch down the heart of the plate.
“Strike” growled the umpire.
“Great pitch, Chuck, this guy is yours,” I shouted. “Now put him away, Buddy”
Beside me a pretty woman smiled and handed me a hot-dog with onions and a Diet Coke.
Last Christmas my children bought me a print by D. Morgan that shows a man walking hand-in-hand with a little child down a wooded lane around the outside of the picture the text reads;
Some may own castles on the banks of the Rhine,
And hire an orchestra each evening at nine.
But richer than I they will never be.
I had a Dad who spent time with me.