“Dr. Retorio! What is going on?!” She asks dumbfounded by my action.
“Tell the next man that comes in here that I am, no longer here, I moved and you don’t know where I am at but they just keep the name” I tell her she still gives me a strange look.
“Please!” I beg. She nods and adjusts her chair to face the front. I hear the bells at the top of the front door ring. I start to hold my breath. Chaeli greets him.
“Hello there! Welcome to Retorio’s adoption center! What can I help you with today?” She asks overly happy.
“ Hi, I just was wanting to adopt a cat today, a black one perhaps” My heart stops, that is Gerard’s voice. My chest starts to hurt again.
“Of course sir, our viewing area for the cats is just down the hall to your left, if you see one you are interested in please let me know and we can get someone to help you” Chaeli responds.
“I was hoping I could have Dr. Retorio help me.” He cooly says.
“Dr. Retorio is no longer here. She has moved. The owners decided to keep the name because she started such a wonderful business” Chaeli says smoothly. Nice, good liar. I hear Gerard let out a sigh.
“Do you know where she moved to?” he asks.
“No I am sorry sir”-Chaeli
“Can you find out?”- Gerard
“It is not my place to tell you where she has moved sir”- Chaeli. I hear some fumbling around and a slam on the counter. Chaeli’s eyes get wide. I know he must have slammed down a big wad of money. She looks over in my direction with a guilty look on her face. I give her pleading eyes her eyes drop.
“ I am s-sorry s-sir, but I cannot a-accept that.” She stutters. I hear more fumbling around and another slam on the desk. Her eyes get wider. I feel the tears burn behind my eyes and I let one slip. He can’t find me! He can’t! She looks over in in my direction again and sees my tear and gets a straight face.
“Sir, I will not tell you where she has moved no matter how much money you put in front of me. Please leave or I will have to call the authorities” Chaeli says in a strict tone. A rush of relief comes over me.
“Fine. Sorry to have bothered you” He picks up the money off the desk and I hear the door slam shut. I sigh and let the tears stream down my face. Chaeli rushes by my side. I come out from under the desk and wipe my tears away.
“Oh Dr. Retorio! I don’t know who he was but he scared me with how angry and determined he looked! You should call the police” She tells me while rubbing my back.
“No, no it is okay, he should leave me alone now” I walk over and grab a tissue and blow my nose into it.
“How much money did he offer you?” I ask. Her face hardens and she looks at the ground.
“1,000” She whispers. My eyes get wide and I stare at her. He is desperate to find me! But why? I shake my head.
“I’ll add that to you paycheck this week” I tell her. She looks up from the ground.
“No don’t do that!” She insists.
“No you deserve it, I….I don’t know what I would have done if he found me…” I trail off. Just as she is about to respond the door opens. I quickly turn my back to the door. Hoping if it Gerard he wont notice me because of my blonde hair.
“Hello Welcome to Retorio’s adoption center! How can I help you?” Chaeli asks. So it isn’t Gerard. I keep my back turned .
“I need to speak with Dr. Retorio” A familiar voice says.
“Sorry sir but she isn’t available right now is there anything I can help you with” Chaeli politely says back.
“She is too available she is right behind you” The voice says. My body tightens.
“Sir if you could please-“ But she is cut off.
“Johanna your red roots are showing I am not that fucking stupid” then it hits me, it is Rays voice. I slowly turn around and see him standing there. His fire red hair in an overly sized hair in an afro. He looks at me and smiles. Then comes behind the counter and gives me a long tight hug. I hug him back and start crying again. I’ve missed him.
“ Johanna! I have missed you so much!” He pulls away from me and looks me up and down.
“You look a lot better than the last time I saw you” I just nod, too shocked to say anything. Chaeli is standing behind him giving me a very confused look.
“Let’s go for a walk” I mutter. Ray nods and we walk out the door and out towards the horse stalls.
“How are you?! I can’t believe we finally found you!” Ray says enthusiastically. They’ve been looking for me? I shove my hands inside my lab coat pockets and keep walking.
“What are you star struck now? Can’t talk to me?” Ray teases. I stop and glare at him.
“Not even, I am more shocked to see you” I say picking up my pace. I hear him let out a laugh. We get into the stalls and I walk over to one of the horses and pet the nose. It neighs at me and nuzzles into my chest I smile and rub behind it’s ears.
“Why are you hear?” I finally ask.
“Well, we were doing an interview today and the DJ said something about your adoption center on air, so I decided to come over here of course waiting until after Gerard had failed to see you that is” He steps closer to me and rubs the horse’s nose too.
“How did you know he would fail?” I ask.
“He’s been looking for you for 3 years Jo, he hasn’t found you, I knew that if he came down here you would come up with some way to avoid him, and after seeing him slam his door shut to his car I’d assume I was right” I stop petting the horse and look at him.
“Ray you need to leave” I quietly say. He looks at me shocked.
“I know, I know. I read the note, you don’t want anything to do with us. Or well with Gerard, but mainly I came to say that I’ve missed you and thank you” he shoves his hands into his pocket.
“Why thank me?” I question.
“Well, because of you Johanna Gerard go so sad, so pissed off that he wrote some of his best songs, those songs were put onto our next album and that album has put us on the top” he smiles and give me another hug. What songs did he write? What do they say? I push those questions out of my mind. Ray pulls away and looks at me again.
“You’ve heard the songs havnt you?” He asks. I shake my head no.
“What why?!” He asks shocked.
“Because Ray, I am not going to listen to a guy who I was completely in love with songs” I say agitated.
“You need to they arnt all bad” Ray says seriously.
“I don’t want to Ray! I can’t hear him sing. I’ve been sober 3 years now and I don’t want those memories of him to come back, I don’t want to feel that pain” I admit. He nods seeming to understand.
“He got sober you know. About a year after you left him. He has changed, he is so different. He still looks for you. Each year we tour and we are in Colorado we spend a week here. He looks, today he heard that broadcast and you should have seen the light in his eyes, I know you don’t want to see him, but please just listen to our album and watch our new DVD. You’ll be surprised I promise you that” Ray puts his hands back into his pocket.
“We are staying at the hotel on Grand and Main for 2 more days. Just please listen to the album, watch the DVD. He wants answers, he wants you. I have them in my car I am more than willing to let you have them, along with some magazines” Ray looks at me with a pleading look.
I don’t know if I can do this, but maybe I can, maybe I do owe this to Gerard. Plus now I am really curious as to what he wrote and if it is good or bad. I sigh and nod.
“Okay” Just because I am going to listen and watch doesn’t mean I am going to go crawling back to him. Maybe this will give my closure I can see how good his life is and not feel bad about leaving him.
Ray smiles and we head out to his car.
We get to his Land Rover and he opens up the back seat where there is a bag full of stuff and a bunch of trash. I laugh when I see that he is still the messy guy I know. He hands me the small duffle bag.
“Why do you have all of this stuff in your car?” I ask taking the bag from his hand.
“Because I knew I could convince you” he says closing the back door. I give him an irritated look.
“Uhuh sure…” I tease.
“You know I have mad skills when it comes to convincing people” he teases back. I really have missed him. I reach for him and give him a hug, this time I hug back.
“We’ve all missed you Jo” He rubs my back and I smile.
“Here is my number” He takes out pen and write on a piece of trash paper from his car and hands it to me. “Call me okay?” he leans in and gives me a kiss on the cheek. I smile. He walks over to the drivers side of the car and hops in. He waves one last time and then drives away.
I look at the duffle bag in my hand. Inside of it contains a couple things that could send my into a relapse or help my overcome this heart ache I still suffer from Gerard. I hope it will make me realize how much better off his is without me, that he made his dream come true. But I can’t be sure. Tonight is going to be a long night.