Fiction

Janice and James

By: Bruce Levine

Plan “C”

Janice and James were spontaneous. They had many things they regularly enjoyed, but could easily take a detour and discover an adventure. When one plan failed, for whatever reason, a quick turn, physical or otherwise, often proved better.

Now, however, plans “A” and “B” had become so odious because of “the new normal” that they, primarily, ceased and desisted from going anywhere unless absolutely necessary.

Now they looked to escape, do things outside “the new normal”: not in stores, restaurants or anywhere masks were required. And certainly not on-line…

Places to feed their soul.

And maybe they’d save some money…

The Weather

The days wore on, one after another, the summer heat and humidity torturing their souls. Even their dog decided that she’d rather wait than face another walk in the muggy, fetid air. They longed for; prayed for, fall for relief.

Janice and James were cold-weather people trapped in what felt like a hot-air balloon sitting, not in the basket, but directly above the flame and their breath would propel them skyward.

When they awoke and compared their dreams over breakfast they discovered that they’d dreamt identical thoughts.

Janice read their horoscope. Today would be a day of total agreement.

Move!

Success

Janice and James looked around at their new home in their new town in their new location and marveled at the success of their transformation.

It had taken courage to make the move.

For James it was the third consecutive apartment which became his new home sight-unseen, other than a website provided by the landlord. Each could have been a disaster. Landlords were notoriously deceiving. But James’ luck, and thereby Janice’s, had held steadfast.

They looked around at their new home. Eight days to completely unpack and decorate and all was done.

The setting was magnificent, especially as the fall was engulfing them in its bouquet of colors. Their new home was completely nestled in a variety of trees and thus creating a complete spectrum of shades and hues of reds, yellows, oranges and evergreens.

Now, as the chipmunks and squirrels scampered outside their back door, they drank their morning coffee and planned their day.

The Next Adventure

Janice and James had fully settled into their new home. No longer did they have to think about where a basic store was located or how to get there. James would even boast that he now knew twenty-seven different ways to get anywhere. A boast Janice ignored benevolently, but she knew that no matter how lost James got he’d, somehow, manage to find his way home. It gave her a sense of security since, as she admitted, knowing the direction they were going, whether north, south, east or west, was not her strongest attribute.

Janice had many attributes and James relied heavily on her opinion, other than which way to turn or what road to take. He often kidded her about the neon sign on the living room wall (metaphorical though it may be) saying Janice Is Always Right.

Now their days took on a sense of normalcy. When they weren’t involved with the every-day aspects of life they explored new towns and areas, widening not only their knowledge, but discovering new things outside their basic comfort zone. Of course new places to eat was always high on the list, especially for James, but fun stores and shops and surprising locales and landscapes was a never-ending pleasure. A river, for example, with intense rapids running through Main Street in one town was a cause for many pictures.

In addition to loving to get lost James loved studying maps. He would often suggest a trip in a given direction, only knowing the basics and then hoping for the best.


So far things had gone well.

Janice enjoyed the adventures, as James called them, but always wondered what James was planning next.

It’s Official

The days were ticking by. The turkey had set the perfect mood not only for the feast of the day, but the official beginning, or so it’s said, of the holiday season.

Janice and James celebrated the day, yet dreaded the day as well. Not because they didn’t like the holidays, but because they had already suffered the overload of Christmas movies and other manifestations which had begun in July rather than waiting for, what they felt, was the appropriate timeframe.

They loved Christmas! They loved the decorations, the lights and the festivity. This year, in their new home, in their new town, they anxiously looked forward to exploring and seeing the seasonal trappings.

James, a devout Foodist, celebrated any holiday which involved food and ignored any that didn’t. But both Janice and James liked the holidays to be appropriately defined within their season. Much like Memorial Day and Labor Day defined the summer season; they felt that Thanksgiving should define the beginning of the Christmas season and that it should end on New Year’s Day rather than lingering into March.

As Janice and James settled down to watch the latest installments of the mystery series they had borrowed from the library they reveled in the pleasure of the repast they’d just enjoyed and thoughts of the holiday season ahead.

Their Niche

Even though it seemed that Janice and James had settled into a state of normalcy in their recently relocated area, and though Janice still always wondered what James was planning for their next “adventure”, they both realized that they had definitely found their “niche”. They’d explored the area and its surrounds enough to recognize those places and towns that would become a part of their regular path and those that they would only return to when there was something that an area contained that was unavailable elsewhere. And then there were places where one of them said “Well, we don’t have to come here again…”

Their list of “regular” service facilities, (such as the car dealership where they could get the oil changed, etcetera, or a printing store) as well as all of the usual stores one needs for basic daily life was now well established. But it was for the ever increasing list of restaurants, to James, the devout Foodist, that pleased him best. They, of course, loved the fancy restaurants and luxuriated in the repast at those. But not all were fancy. In fact one, in particular, was self-serve (one ordered at a counter then picked up the meal on a tray), but it had a special ambience that they both loved and the food was GREAT! 

They’d found, and frequented, the more general requirements of life, such as the post office and library, and no longer thought about where to go for most of their daily, and not-so-daily needs.

They’d found their niche and now James was cogitating expanding their horizons with a few short trips in new directions and even some further away. Janice noted, one evening after discussing the fact, that James got lost in thought and she knew that they’d be off somewhere new again in the not too distant future.

Christmas Eve, Eve

The day before Christmas Eve, since the weather seemed perfect, Janice and James decided that they really wanted to see the tree in the center of their nearby city and how the city itself was decorated for the season. New in the area they had not experienced the holidays so as each one occurred they did a tour of their surrounding neighborhoods.

Today the plan was to wait until evening, spend some time walking around the city and have dinner in whatever restaurant looked most appealing at the moment.

They did a preparatory tour by car to get an overview and find the best location to park for their walk-around and then go exploring.

Stopping at shop after shop to look around was wonderful and they found several that they knew they’d return to at other times for a variety of reasons, including simply to take another look but tonight, as they passed each restaurant, they decided that none looked intriguing enough to lure them in.

They already had reservations at one of their favorite restaurants in their “home” area for Christmas Eve dinner, one that they looked forward to in particular because, being devout Foodists and celebrating any holiday that involved food, Christmas Eve dinner was high on their list.

But tonight seemed to be a bust. Finally James simply suggested that they return to their own town and have dinner at another of their favorites, a suggestion to which Janice readily concurred.

As they drove home after a joyous seafood meal Janice and James reiterated how they were happy that they’d found an area to truly enjoy, partially because it had everything they needed. Not that they didn’t look forward to heading further afield in the near future to visit new places neither had ever been but, for now, home was home.

Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and they looked forward to enjoying the special repast and to simply being home and together.

Categories: Fiction

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