Evy Reinmann swaddled bandages, mercurochrome, and a canteen of water in a clean towel and followed the path to the old stone spring near the creek. That’s where the workers gathered daily to enjoy a sandwich and a cigarette when they took a break. She’d seen the boy’s soiled bandage day after day and wanted to help him clean the wound. They were laughing over something when she interrupted.
“Hello,” she said. “My name is Evy Reinmann. I live up the hill.”
They stared at her. One of the men stepped forward and shook her hand. “Hello, Evy Reinmann.” His eyes were an unexpected and soothing shade of green.
She shook his hand, but set her sights on the injured boy. “I’m sorry to interrupt your break, but I can’t help but feel that you might need some medical attention.”
“Are you a doctor?” the injured boy asked with a chuckle.
“No. Not a doctor or a nurse. I just saw that your bandage was awfully dirty yesterday and thought I might offer you a new one.”
“I don’t need a handout from you, lady.”
“I was just trying to be kind.”
“Don’t need no kindness, either. Go back up your hill.” He flicked the cigarette and turned away with a coldness she didn’t deserve.
All the other workers followed him, except for one. The one who shook her hand.
“That was uncalled for,” he said. “I should apologize for my colleague’s rudeness.”
“No need to apologize for him. When his hand falls off, he’ll wish he’d have taken my handout.”
The man laughed. His green eyes showed no signs of someone who’d been on the failing end of life, like the other boys seemed to be. “I’m sure he already regrets it, Evy.”
“What’s your name?”
He hesitated. “Henry.”
“Really? That surprises me. You don’t look like a Henry.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You weren’t born in America.”
“How did you know that?”
“I have a good ear for things.”
“I was born in Lithuania.”
“How interesting! You’ve Americanized your name, though. A shame, in my opinion.”
“Not Americanized. Completely made up.”
“When did you come here?”
“I was about five years old.”
“What’s your real name?”
He looked over her shoulder. “Where does that path lead?”
“To the road that my house is on.”
“Are you familiar with Idlewood Park?” He continued to look behind her.
“Will you meet me at the entrance to Idlewood at seven on Friday? In front of the garden that’s on this postcard?” He took a tattered card out of his pocket and showed it to her.
“For what?” she asked, a smile spreading across her lips.
“I’ll tell you my real name if you’ll have a date with me at Idlewood.”
“I should agree to a date with a boy whose name I don’t even know?”
“We’re talking about kindness, here. Do me the kindness of a date?”
“An outing together. Have you been to Idlewood yet?”
“No. But I vowed I’d take the prettiest girl I’ve met so far to Idlewood on pay day, and that happens to be you.”
She let him wait a moment for her answer. “I will be your tour guide to Idlewood, then. And no need to bring your paycheck. I’ve got a longstanding agreement with the management there.”
“I’ve got to get back to work.”
He took a step closer to her. “May I?”
“Kiss your cheek?”
He closed his eyes as his lips met her flawless skin. “Just as I thought,” he whispered.
“You’ve had a thought about this already? We just met.”
“I suppose I’ll have to be your tour guide as well.”
“How a man’s mind works.”
He turned away from her, still smiling, and started back towards the rock wall.
She laughed. “I’ve had that tour a time or two.”
“But never from an honest man. I can guarantee that.”
May 29, 1935
I’ve met someone today. He says his name is Henry, but it’s an alias. His speech is seasoned with the slightest hint of an accent, which he says is Lithuanian. Intriguing character, I must admit. And how I need to fall in love at the moment, to squelch out any remainder of hope I had in the previous affair. Boredom sets in as I’m nearly alone in this house all the time. Auntie remains mute and will only see Nurse Flora. I’m lonely for a friend, for family. And I’m still plagued with the loneliness that has haunted me my entire life. The one that ruins me time and time again.
Which gets me to thinking about Henry. He’s barely taller than me, and I’ve never seen such interesting dirty blonde hair. Some pieces are blonde, and some are darker brown. I’ve never seen hair with such texture and depth of color. His eyes are green, but he looks like someone who’d be better suited to blue eyes. His eyes are kind, though, in a way that doesn’t lie. The way his face turns to a smile makes me want to kiss him — it’s such an unassuming smile. I can hear it in his speech that he’s had an education, or is at least well-read.
A mysterious stranger if there ever was one.
We are to meet at the garden entrance of Idlewood at seven on Friday.
May 31, 1935
I’ve never been nervous around women, nor was I nervous upon meeting her, but I’m nervous for tonight because it’s been so long since I’ve been my real self with a woman. At Columbia, being John Wimbley was easy. There were a hundred other John Wimbleys just like me. John Wimbley’s father was a real estate man, his brother a physician. John Wimbley enjoyed philosophy as a distraction from his physics studies. He loved a good conversation and a decent brandy. He went with only the stuffiest girls because they’d expect no affection from him, and that’s what he wanted.
Evy Reinmann is unlike any woman I’ve met before. I could tell in her boldness with wanting to treat Rudy’s hand. I’ve scarcely met any person who continues to think of the needs of another more than fifteen seconds after they’ve met. She must be drawn to the wounded. There is something about her that doesn’t match. The raven hair that falls carelessly over her shoulders, the high cheekbones and dancing eyes, the way her skirt hugs her hips. All of that was met with a touch of innocence and kindness. I’ve met only one such woman in my lifetime — my own mother.
I would be willing to guess upon meeting Evy Reinmann that she’s not a stranger to desire, nor consequences.