Randall Smithwithers was coming home. Finally. It had been a struggle reconciling his thought toward coming back to the family manse. So many memories which with Randall just couldn’t come to grips. But the place must be so neglected, he thought. Coming back to Norbal took some doing.
Father had a stranger sense of humor. He had called their home, Norbal. As a boy, Randall had once asked why father had been saying normal wrong. The elder always proclaimed the end of family vacations as “Returning to Norbal” It meant time to go home. It was a stranger quirk his father possessed.
The drive up the boulevard gave Randall the sense that something was wrong. Things had changed, he thought. Different in a strange way. The cab driver kept glancing back at his passenger.
“You okay, Pal?” the hack asked.
“I don’t know. Are you sure this is Caufield Boulevard?” Smithwithers inquired.
“Look Buddy, I’ve been driving this burg for 15 years. I know my way…” the cabbie started.
‘No, I mean… it’s just that I don’t remember…” Randall interrupted before tailing of into an inaudible mutter.
Silence filled the car. The driver continued to look back at his suspicious charge. Turning into the rather long driveway of the address Randall had given, the cabbie saw Randall face again, looking rather puzzled…again.
“Here we are, Fella!”
Randall stepped out and paid the man and watched as he navigated around the curve drive toward the street. Then he turned back to face the house. Taking each step tentatively, the returnee took in every sensation that overcame him. Slowly, he turned his key in the lock. He dreaded coming back to restore the place to livability.
As the door creaked open he noticed that the slip covers were all removed from the furniture. Not a speck of dust to eradicate. He heard soft music. Randall smelled a wondrous aroma. Roast Beef. Placing his bag on the floor, Smithwithers went to investigate.
The music he heard was coming from the drawing room. He recalled the years of his youth sitting here with his rock and roll records, driving his father crazy with its volume. The furniture was arranged as he had remembered, except that father’s chair had been replaced by an overstuffed recliner.
He walked through the alcove to the library. He noticed his books were missing. The shelves were empty, save for the brick-a-brack and knick knacks. His books! Stories of adventures. Collections of poetic works. Encyclopedias and such. Gone. All gone. This was upsetting Randall.
He heard noises from the kitchen. There was no longer a staff on duty to care for things. He had been gone far too long. Puzzled now. Puzzled and upset. Randall peered around the corner into the brightly lit room. A woman, standing near the counter with her back to the doorway in which Randall stood. She was busy in preparation of a meal. He could not process what was happening.
Softly, Randall cleared his throat. The woman turned dutifully, not startled or afraid. It was as if she was expecting “visitors”. Reaching back for her apron strings, she untied the bow and acknowledged the man.
“Randy! Oh my dear. It’s wonderful to have you back home. I’ve prepared your favorite…” she halted in mid-sentence and rushed to the confused Randall.
She thrust her arms around him in an exaggerated hug. Smithwithers had no clue. His lack of response made the woman pull back and her sad look gave Randall a start.
“You’ve been gone for so long… don’t you remember?” she said wiping a single tear.
He looked at her, studying her features. Something was familiar, but he didn’t know what it was. But he did know something was amiss.
She started to cry now, loud sobs that touched Randall deeply. He reached to console her, but he didn’t know why. Her perfume, a gentle scent, triggered something. He pulled away to look at her. Something… in her eyes, something.
“Pamela?” he asked, almost as a whisper.
Tears streamed harder now.
“You’re remembering, aren’t you?” she cried happily.
He embraced her again more for purpose than comfort.
“The doctor said it would take some time. I’ll be patient. You were in the coma for so long!” Pam reassured him. “The amnesia is expected, he said. But, I’m here. I’ve always been here.”
Randall took consolation in her words. It made some sense now. He wasn’t sure what to expect. But he just knew he was returning to Norbal at the right time!