Walsh and Bryson agree on meeting over brunch, and I’m along for the ride, literally. I’m sitting shotgun in the jeep on the gloomiest of gray days, while Bry drives us into the city. Why I had to endure another 8:30am wake-up call is utterly unclear to me. At this rate, we’ll arrive at the restaurant ninety minutes before Walsh. Bry is staying mum, but he’s up to something. At least he provided me with a travel mug of coffee.
We don’t seem to be headed toward the city, “Bry?” He’s taking a parking spot on a quiet residential street. If I’m right, we’re just blocks from the lake and the Baha’i temple north of Evanston. Bry gets out of the vehicle without a word. I’ve little choice but to follow his lead. I step out of the jeep into the moist air. The weather is mild—no warmer than the low 70’s. “Bry?”
“The storms sure cooled off everything.” He pulls his sweater sleeves down to his wrists. He hasn’t looked over at me once. His eyes are to the firmament and its textured dull gray blandness. “We’ve got some time to kill.” Bryson starts to walk up the street, away from me.
“We could have slept in longer,” I offer. He laughs but keeps on walking. Bryson can be infuriating, but I’ll follow.
The pavement is mottled with dry spots. The trees overhead seem particularly heavy. Every little breeze brings water down from the leaves. The cottages here have nice little gardens which look particularly green, yet disheveled this morning. Extra leaves and twigs litter the lawns. “We lost some branches last night.” Now Bry is looking at me. “I cleaned up the yard before I got you up.” Bry, the do-gooder, shrugs.
The Baha’i Temple perches loftily on its knoll beyond the near ridge of trees. Bryson leads the way up through the gardens to the steps of the temple. After ensuring that I am following, he continues up the steps and then follows the perimeter wall to the east side of the building. Here, we are exposed to the cool breezes coming unimpeded off the turbulent, smoky-green lake. The maze of evergreens below us seems to offer protection from the wind to their little wedges of gardens. Why did he bring me here?
“I love this place.” Bryson acts nostalgic. I haven’t been here since I was a kid, and never with him.
“Are we going inside for some sort of mass or service?”
“No. That wasn’t my intention.” Bryson takes a seat on the top step circling the temple. “Though, you are free to go in if you want.” I don’t. It looks like we’ll be here for a bit so I take a seat on the barely dry stone steps. Why did he bring me here? “My dad used to bring me up here after big storms. There is something about the lake when it’s at its most restless state that enthralls him. He finds peace in it. I guess I do, too.” I had no idea about this ritual of theirs. But I get it: the lake looks beautiful when it’s wild. It seems to glow from within. “We’d always take the Red Line up to one of the harbors or we’d come all the way here. This was my favorite destination. It always felt like we had arrived at the end of the world.” We’ll be having dinner with Bry’s dad. Maybe that’s why Bryson is feeling sentimental.
“Is your dad okay?” I hope Bry’s not about to tell me that Bryan has cancer or the equivalent.
“He’s fine.” Bryson is now looking at me, not the lake. “It’s you, I’m worried about.” Ouch.
“Is that why you have me on suicide watch?”
Bry’s eyes drop to his clasped hands. “I don’t have you on suicide watch. I’m just worried about you.”
Last week I introduced the brotherly friendship of Jared and Bryson. The scene above is later in the same chapter and takes place the next morning. The rift between them has been yawning for a spell, but this moment starts them on the path of working together again.