Excerpt
 

Joel was feeling pretty good about himself that night after he dropped Bo off at her house. He went home to call Glen to tell him how he’d pulled off the match. His mood sank a little when the strange voice on the other end informed him that Glen wasn’t there. No surprise, really, but… Glen had been in a different world ever since he moved into an East Side apartment with a group of his college buddies. Joel missed the easygoing camaraderie of their boyhood friendship.

Since Glen wasn’t available, Joel went to his usual backup plan and stepped across the hall to share his good news with his elderly neighbor.

Mr. Burnstein opened his door a crack.

"Hello, Joel. What’s on your mind?" He looked at his watch. "Must be something important." He opened the door wide and stepped aside. "Come in. I’ll make some coffee."

"Thanks." Joel took his usual place at the kitchen table and watched the old man in his plaid bathrobe measure the grounds and pour water into the Mr. Coffee.

"I did a good thing tonight." Joel took a deep breath, sat back, and grinned. He was trying to savor the moment, make it last.

Mr. Burnstein settled himself across from Joel. "Tell me about it, boy."

Joel gave Mr. Burnstein a play-by-play description of the goings-on at the Matchbox. He rattled on about how he’d had thoughts about dating Bo himself. "She deserves better than Tom, that’s for sure."

Mr. Burnstein listened attentively. "You like this girl, Bo?"

"I don’t know. I guess. I just felt so bad for her, getting dumped like that."

"Hmm." Mr. Burnstein nodded.

"I have to admit Ray Atkins was on my mind when I took Bo to the Matchbox, though. Then when I saw how he looked at her, and she seemed interested in him, I thought to myself, these two are a natural fit."

Joel laughed as he told Mr. Burnstein about his little trick. Then he nodded his head in thoughtful reflection. "I did the right thing."

Mr. Burnstein looked solemn when he asked Joel if he thought his friends would appreciate all the effort he’d put into the match.

"I hope so. They’re so right for each other. I’m sure they can take it from here." Joel was silent for a moment before he added, "If they don’t, I’ll just have to tweak it a little." He had a satisfied grin on his face. "Thanks for listening, Mr. Burnstein. I suppose I should go now."

Joel took his cup to the sink and rinsed it. "Did I wake you? I see you’re dressed for bed."

"No, I was just watching a late show."

"I guess I didn’t think. I was just feeling so good, and I wanted to share my high."

"That’s okay, boy. I don’t get to talk to a lot of people. I take it when I can get it." Mr. Burnstein yawned. "But I guess I am tired now."

Joel headed for the door. "I hope the coffee doesn’t keep you awake."

"That would be something, wouldn’t it? I didn’t have any." Mr. Burnstein shook his head and mumbled something that sounded like "ishkabibble" as he let Joel out the door.

Joel turned back. "What’s that?"

"Nothing, boy," he smiled. "Sleep well."


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