...was the only response I could fathom once my tongue finally untwisted itself and I could think of anything to say but, I have a boyfriend. As soon as the words were out, I turned on my heel and finished my way across the busy small town street to my truck. As though it were just another step, I landed on the diamond plated floor with my left foot and pulled myself up and into the driver's seat with the same hand; by using the handrail. My truck keys dangled from the middle finger of my right hand just like they were supposed to, and as my bottom hit the less than plush seat I dropped my diad into it's slot below the dash. I turned the key in the ignition and as the truck rattled to life it seemed as if the whole episode had been a seamless dance move; one fluid motion to get me away from him. I took a deep breath, checked my side view mirrors in turn and pulled from the curb. I didn't dare look across the street to where I knew he stood watching. The tips of my ears were hot, and I could feel that my cheeks were a shade from scarlet. Why on Earth did he tell me his first name? I didn't need to know his first name!
I was a flabbergasted and exasperated mess. Though somehow I felt like I was floating when I walked into Walker's True Value to check for their daily pickup. Luckily the day was about over. After this stop I could head home with just a few more pickup stops along the way near the airport. It had been a good day. I was going to make it back to Durango with my air. Sometimes, if I couldn't get everything delivered in time and had to drop my air off before the sort was over, I'd just meet the pilot at the airport. I had to stop there to pickup anyhow. If I could drop the packages there it would save me at least forty-five minutes. Otherwise, I'd have to drive clear from Ignacio to Durango and back, in order to finish the deliveries I had on my route.
During the fifteen or so minute drive from Walker's to M&R, my next pickup, I replayed the events in my head. I had stopped by Heibco earlier in the day while I was making my in town deliveries. Neither Neil nor Shawn had been around, and the place was locked up tight. It is UPS policy to get a signature for deliveries made to businesses. Normally, I'd mark the package not-in-one. After three attempts we'd send the recipient a postcard. But, I'd be driving right by again in the afternoon on my way to Walker's to pickup. Since the day was going well, I figured that I could hop out and try a second time relatively easily. The fewer deliveries that were carried forward from one day to the next the better. Today had been light, but tomorrow might be heavy. I was always annoyed by reattempting deliveries. It was fine going to the same place daily with new packages, but it peeved me to go somewhere daily with the same package.
After I stopped by Sky Ute Casino to check for their pickup, I drove through Ignacio on Goddard toward the other end of town. Traffic was getting heavy since it was after four o'clock, but was still quite manageable for the two lanes. Oil field trucks lined the four pumps at 7-to-11, and the single story buildings downtown cast squatty shadows into the Southbound lane. I pulled over along the curb in front of Well's Fargo Bank, which was directly across the street from Heibco. I hopped out of my seat, and turned to unlock the package car's bulk head door. I retrieved Heibco's package from the back and shut the door behind me as I walked through it. The passenger side door was open. But, I sat back down in the driver's seat spinning to the left and scooting forward. For this stop, I grabbed the handle on the driver's side door and pulled it hard to the left. I continued then to push with a little might, until it clicked and was locked in its open position. When the traffic cleared, I darted across the street.
Heibco sat on the corner of Goddard Avenue and Highway 151 in Ignacio. The two way stop intersection is the busiest in town. Between that, the fact that Heibco sold trailers that often lined the front of their shop, and my being engrossed in finding a spot to stash the little package, I was kept from noticing that anyone was around. Actually, I was highly aware that there was still no one around! This was extremely unusual. I don't think I'd ever found the office door locked before. Usually, if I hadn't found Neil inside, he or Shawn were in one of the garages directly behind the office. But, no one was there. Every door was closed and locked. Hmm. I had held the 6 x 6" square box in my hands and pondered what to do. I really didn't want to take it back to my truck. It was Ignacio, and it was Heibco after all. Surely it would be safe if I just left it right there at the door. But, no, that didn't feel right. I saw some leaf springs propped up between the office door and first bay, and was considering stashing the package behind them. Then I'd write a note on my delivery notice regarding the whereabouts of the hidden package. That way, Neil or Shawn would find it, but it would look like a not-in-one attempt to someone passing by. Just as I was reaching for the pad in my shirt pocket I noticed someone walking toward me from out of nowhere. So it had seemed to me anyway. What was he doing there? He was coming from 151's shoulder it looked like, but why? Heibco was closed. In all honesty, in that moment, I didn't ask myself a single one of those questions.
I did, however, hear him say hi. The package had been tucked up under my left arm since I'd been going for my delivery notice pad. His sudden presence stopped me, and I lowered my right arm as I turned from the building and toward him. When he got to me, I asked him if he knew where Shawn and Neil were. As if it even mattered. I mean, they obviously were not there. "No." he replied.
I have no idea what he was wearing. None whatsoever, aside from boot-type footwear. Maybe that's because I'd been looking down as he approached. As I turned to face him, my eyes started at his feet. Everything got progressively more cloudy as I made my way up from there. A cloud of country boy. That much I could tell. The afternoon oil field traffic was busy behind him, with each vehicle taking its turn at the stop sign. Chains rattled, brakes squealed slowly to a halt, and engines idled. The intersection was like a pulsing neon letter T. Traffic continuously fed into the top from the bottom, coming from Highway 151 and turning either right or left onto Goddard Avenue; seldom going straight through. Everything else seemed to be standing still.
"Can I take that for you?" he asked smiling at me. I knew he was talking about the box, but he didn't ever seem to look at it. He seemed to just look at me.
"That would be great!" I exclaimed. "Will you sign for it?" I asked, and gave his smile right back to him. Knowing him didn't matter to me in the least. He was at Heibco, and he was willing to sign. Mission accomplished; delivery made! Stop number fifty-four complete. At this point, I was standing on the concrete slab with my back completely to Heibco's office door. Traffic continued to pulse about fifteen feet in front of, and to the left of me. The setting sun was warm and soft on my face. I had on my work boots, brown polished Merrells, and my uniform in short pants and sleeves. It was August and hot enough for shorts, but wouldn't be for long. By September I'd be back in long pants. The Colorado sky was a pale blue behind him. There was a slight breeze, which kept the smell of exhaust from the intersection at bay.
The package was back under my arm as I grabbed the diad from its pouch that hung from my right hip. I pressed the signature button with my thumb and extended the clunky thing out to him. He took it in his left hand, and pulled the stylus out with his right and began to sign. I was basking in internal joy at making the delivery when it dawned on me that I was ready to go. He was taking a really long time to sign. Who does this? By the time he offered it back to me I was actually growing irritable. The day had been going well, but now I felt like I might have to rush to get back in time.
"What's your last name?" I asked out of habit. I'd taken my board from him and my thumbs were already working away at the keys. His signature was legible since he took the care and time of a third grader to sign it. But, since I was irritable and I didn't know him, I wanted verbal confirmation of his name. I stared down at the board waiting for his response; my thumbs ready to attack.
"Candelaria", he said. "Gabe. Candelaria."
For reasons completely unbeknownst to me, I looked up in that moment. My eyes locked with his like a magnet to an anvil. He'd been calm and quiet the entire time. I'd never shut up or slowed down. I may not have been physically moving much or saying anything out loud, but this was the first time I was quiet all day. Everything was quiet. Now the only movement was what came from behind, and through, his eyes. A blue, green and grey sea of unknown. I wasn't breathing.
"Okay, thanks", I said shifting nervously while I finished on the diad. As I returned it to it's pouch I handed him the box. I was suddenly very uncomfortable, and more than ever, was ready to go. He smiled the same way he did when he had said hi. But, my enthusiasm over the successful delivery was old news. I gave him a clipped smile and set into a brisk pace toward my truck. In about two seconds flat I was at the curb looking to my left, right, then left again and crossing the street.
"Hey!" he called from behind. I turned around, and everything seemed to quiet and still again. "Can I get you lunch sometime?" he asked, and he was closer now to the sidewalk than he'd been before. I was in the street. I had to go. I had a boyfriend. I again became frantic on the inside, and desperate to leave. But my tongue couldn't form the words. How could I have lunch with him? I couldn't have lunch with him.