Page 31: We Can’t Find Joe…Again!

Christa heard Ted’s car drive up. She peered out the side living room window from her rocker and saw Ted drive off.  She waited with anticipation to hear the back door open and the sound of Joe’s footsteps.  Seconds turned into minutes, but she didn’t hear anyone come in the house.  She got up out of her chair in the living room and walked into the kitchen.  Then she walked down the hallway and looked in Joe’s room.  No Joe.  She walked back into the living room where John was sleeping in the chair.
“John, wake up,” Christa said as she shook his arm. “Ted dropped Joe off.  I saw his car leave the yard, but Joe’s not in the house. I’m afraid he may have taken off again.”

“Huh?” John said half sleeping.

“I’m going outside to look for him,” Christa said worriedly.

Pulling himself up from his slouching position in the chair, John rubbed his eyes. “Damn it, Christa, we can’t keep living like this.  Having to watch him every minute. It’s like taking care of a baby, except he’s 40 years old!”

Christa knew that John was right, but for now she ignored him and put her shoes on. John got up out of his chair and did the same.

With flashlights in hand, John and Christa ventured outside, calling Joe’s name as they checked the barn, the sheds, and all the outside buildings.  As Christa passed the house on her way to the apple orchard, she heard the phone ringing in the house. She ran inside, hoping she would answer it before the person on the other end hung up.

Out of breath, she picked up the receiver and answered with anticipation, “Hello?”

Page 30: Joe Goes to McDonald’s

Ted and Joe drove off and headed toward Rochester.  Ted kept talking about anything and everything he could think of.  Joe just sat there, listening, but not really understanding anything. Joe was frustrated, but tried not to show it.  The stranger was nice, his mom and Sharon seemed to know who he was, so Joe trusted him as well.

They pulled up into the McDonald’s parking lot.  Ted got out of the car and proceeded to the front door under the Golden Arches.  Joe followed.  When they got inside, Ted ordered 12 Big Macs, 10 for Joe, and two for himself.  He ordered four large fries and two Cokes to go with it. 
Joe watched intently as Ted ordered and the person behind the counter scurried to get them their food.  Joe thought it was interesting how the food came wrapped up.  He had only seen food at the hospital and food that his mother cooked for him.  Ted carried the tray over to a table, quickly opened one of the Big Macs and sunk his teeth into one, chewing ever so slowly, savoring the taste of the beef, cheese and its special dressing. Joe just sat there looking at Ted. 

“Eat, dang it!” Ted ordered with a smile on his face.  “Don’t tell me you lost your appetite, too?  Remember the time you ate five large Pizza Hut Supreme pizzas?”

Joe watched what Ted had done, so he opened the little box, but then he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to use his hands to pick up what was inside. Ted was using one hand, Joe noted, so that’s what he tried. It seemed awkward to him. The burger fell apart, some of it dropping back into the carton, and some dropping to Joe’s lap.

Ted laughed, “First time eating?”

Joe answered, “This? Yes.”

Ted’s face became somber, “Seriously, Joe? You don’t know what a Big Mac is?”

As innocent as could be, Joe replied, “Nope. First time. Never had these in the hospital. Just had a watermelon the other day for the first time, too.” 

The food just about dropped out of Ted’s mouth. Was this for real, because if it wasn’t, Joe was doing a great job of acting. “How about fries?”

“Fries?” Joe asked.

“Yeah, these long things right here,” Ted took some fries out of the little red container, dipped them in ketchup, and ate them.

Joe did the same thing. “First time eating fries,” Joe replied. “I like them. I like the…what did you call it…big…?”

“Big Mac?” Ted finished the sentence for him. “You should, I’ve seen you eat as many as 15 in one sitting.”

Not exchanging many words after that, Ted and Joe finished their meal at McDonald’s. Not knowing what more to say or talk about, the ride back to the Aden farm was quiet. As Ted pulled the car into the Aden’s yard, he said, “Hey Joe, glad you’re back. Maybe we can get together some night for some one-on-one?”

“Sure,” said Joe, not knowing what he was committing to, but thinking it was the right thing to say.  Joe opened the door, got out of the car and started walking toward the house.

Page 29: Ted Finds Joe

Ted was almost to Elsmore, and he saw Joe standing in the ditch, just standing there.  He slammed on his brakes, pulled over to the right side of the road, and rolled down the passenger window. “Joe, what the hell ya doin’?”
Joe looked at Ted and the car with a puzzled look on his face.  “I don’t know where I am.”
“Get in the car, jackass,” Ted teased.  “You got your whole family worried about you.  Let’s get you home.”
Joe went up to the car, opened the door and got in the car.
“How’s it goin’, big guy?”  Ted asked as he socked Joe in the arm.
“Not good,” Joe said solemnly as he looked straight ahead out the window.
“Too tough for ya?” Ted asked in reference to his punch.
Joe turned his head and looked at Ted, but didn’t say anything.
For someone who has supposedly lost his memory, he sure is acting like he knows who I am, Ted thought.  “Hey, how about we go into Rochester and hit McDonald’s.  Let’s see if you can still eat 10 Big Macs in one sitting.”
Joe didn’t know who he was in the car with or what this person was talking about, but Joe figured he must know him because he was friendly enough.  Joe picked up on the word “eat,” so he responded to Ted, “Sure.”
Dang, thought Ted, he hasn’t lost his memory.  He still knows what a Big Mac is!
Ted turned the car around and headed toward Rochester, stopping at the Aden farm to tell Christa and Sharon that he and Joe were going to McDonald’s.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Ted,” Christa said. “He’s not going to know what to order to eat.”
“Aw, he’ll be fine.  He’s in good hands with me, Mrs. Aden.”  
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