Bruce forced himself to walk down the steps, but he broke into a jog when he reached the living room. Jake was out back standing in the bed of his truck. Bruce waved and forced a smile onto his face for a few seconds. Jake nodded, waved, then went back to shifting toolboxes around. Bruce jammed himself into Liza’s Focus and took off up the driveway.
Traffic was light. It took less than ten minutes to make it to the underpass. He killed the headlights when he turned off the street and stopped the car halfway down the access road. Bruce took a deep breath. The car smelled like Liza.
What now? Everything was a mess. He should have moved to Hawaii. No. Alaska. He should have moved to Alaska. What was he thinking? He couldn’t decide. His dad always used to tell him to “shit or get off the pot”. He should have lived outside until he died like a normal bum, or lived in his house like a normal member of society.
He thought about Janice. The new dean would likely let her go, but she would be fine. She could have retired a long time ago. He thought about Michael. His body couldn’t take many more years of living outside. Would he stay with Liza? What about her? Someone would probably steal her car if he left it here. He could leave her money for a new one before he donated the rest and disappeared. Would Liza miss him? She probably would, at least a little, for a while. If Michael left too, she would be alone in the house again, but she had Jake.
Bruce rummaged through the glove box and the console. He cursed himself for cleaning out the car when he found only a small stack of napkins, a pack of vending machine pretzels, and the butterfly knife. He shoved these in his pockets and shut the console. Liza’s sketch pad was wedged next to the seat. It was the one she was using for class. Damn! Maybe he could get it back to her through Janice or Jim.
He thumbed through the pictures. They were good. A little odd. She would be fine. Some of the pages toward the back weren’t lying flat, like they’d been used. Bruce turned the pad over and flipped through backwards. There were sketches of him at least twenty pages deep.