Chapter Five ~ A Starting Place
Tony was waiting on the porch steps, a mug of coffee in his hand, when Joe pulled into the driveway. Joe waved and reached over to the passenger seat and grabbed his backpack.
He got out of his car, closed the door and looked over at Tony. He said, “I hope you made enough coffee. I didn’t fall asleep until four. I only got three hours of shuteye. I’m blaming you for making talk last night.” He tossed Tony a big grin.
“Don’t blame me. If Marie was in bed with you, you wouldn’t have had a sleep problem,” Tony laughed.
“Sleeping single in a double bed is no fun, I agree. I’m going to get used to it until I find this guy. Let’s get started,” said Joe as he and Tony hugged. Joe followed Tony into the house.
While Joe was getting set his laptop up on the table, Tony went to the coffee pot and poured a fresh cup of coffee for both of them. He turned his head toward Joe and said, “I got a head start on our search this morning.”
“You find anything?” asked Joe half expecting Tony to have all the answers he needed.
Tony picked up two mugs of coffee and carried them over to the table. He set one down in front on Joe and the other to right side of his laptop. He went back to the counter and brought over a bag. He set the bag down, “There are bagels and cream cheese in the bag. Help yourself.”
Tony opened the bag, peered in and pulled out a pumpernickel bagel, a container of plain cream cheese and a plastic knife. He looked up at Tony, and said, “Well? What did you find?”
Tony reached for the bagel bag and said, “I figure your mom was about twenty, maybe twenty-one when you were born.”
Tony continued, “She was in college at St. Clare University. It was all women at the time. So we know Joe Wright wasn’t a student at St. Clare’s unless he was a cross-dresser.”
Joe rolled his eyes, and said, “I hope you got more than this.”
“Bear with me, Joe. I’m laying this out so a guy with your low level intellect can understand.”
They both laughed. Tony continued, “Just because he was in the army when he wrote the letter to your mom, doesn’t mean he was in the army when they met and started sleeping together.”
“Man, that hurts,Tony. Mom was such a saint in my mind. Then I see her in a skimpy bikini and now you toss in sleeping with guy who walked out on her. What next?”
“Give your mom a break, Tony. She was no different from you and me. What were you doing when you were 20? I remember a girl named Nina in high school. So, your mom got caught up with the wrong guy and got pregnant. You think she was the only woman on the planet that this ever happened to?”
Joe shook his head. He said, “You’re right, Tony.” Joe raised his head toward the ceiling, “Forgive me, Mom. My bad.”
Tony continued, “At the same time St. Clare’s was an all women university, across town was St. Bernard University. It was all male. A little Internet checking and the two universities held mixers throughout the year. You know, they wanted to make sure Catholics were marrying Catholics. Now, St. Bernard, like St. Clare’s is male and female. What if, Joe Wright was a student at St. Bernard’s? Think about it. St. Bernard’s had and still has an ROTC program. Students who joined the ROTC got their education paid for by the government in exchange for four years of military service and they were commissioned as officers when they graduated.”
Joe waited for moment. Then he said, “What you said is all true, but it’s pure speculation. You’re just guessing. The only thing I agree with is that he went to college. His being an officer in the army means he most likely went to college. It doesn’t mean he went to either Catholic college. If he’s local, it’s more likely he went OSU. They have a big ROTC program. Here’s another thought, what if he was in the army and home on leave and they got together. He could be six years older than mom.”
“You’re not making it easy, Joe.”
“I just did a quick search for the surname Wright and it is one of the most common in the US. There are nearly a half million people with that last name. All I need is a starting place and I think the rest will unfold. I’ll find a trail I can follow right to its end. If this guy is living or dead I want to know so I can close this chapter. It’s something I need to do or it’s going to eat at me for the rest of my life.”
“The logical first step is to ask your grandmother or your aunt Estelle. They both would know your mom was pregnant and not married,” said Tony.
A look of pain crossed Joe’s face. He said, “Gramma just went to a nursing home about two weeks ago. I hate to bring up a bad memory. She’s all alone. After mom was killed, all she has is Estelle. Estelle was four years younger than mom. I don’t think they were close when they were growing up.”
Tony said, “Why don’t you want to talk to them? I’ve never know you to be afraid of anything, now you’re afraid of talking to your gramma and aunt? If you really want to find Joe Wright, you’ve got to suck up and do what you don’t want to do. Your gramma is probably going to be happy to see you. When was the last time you visited her?”
Joe turned away from his friend. A flash of anger crossed his face. He knew if said what he wanted to say, he’d regret it and maybe lose a friend. He felt his jaw tighten. He looked down at his hands, they were balled into big fists, his fingernails were digging into his palms. After an eternal moment, he turned back toward Tony and said, “Anybody but you who said that to me, we would have taken it out into the street. You’re right, Tony. I haven’t been a good grandson. I haven’t stopped by to see her in six months.”
Tony said, “Your gramma is the first step. See what she can tell you.”
“Good idea, Tony. We have some time, let’s see what we can find. I’ll hit People Finder.
You try some other location services, maybe obituaries, that sort of thing. I’ll head to gramma’s this afternoon.
Joe nodded and fist bumped Tony.