Oh, my sweet Fraulien down in Berlin town
Makes my heart start to yearn
And my China doll down in old Hong Kong
Waits for my return
Pretty Polynesian baby over the sea
I remember the night
When we walked in the sands of the Waikiki
And I held you oh so tight
Oh, I'm a travelin' man
Yes, I'm a travelin' man
Yes, I'm a travelin' man
Whoa, I'm a travelin' man
Immediately, Annie turned to him.
"Why did you turn that off?" she whined. "I like Ricky Nelson."
"The very last thing I need," Sebastian whined as he turned a sharp curve on the interstate, "is a reminder that I'm a traveling man…also."
She sighed. "Honey, you just need to adjust. I have! Why can't you?"
He smarmily smiled at her. "Because, my love, I just miss you too much."
They giggled and returned their eyes to the highway. There wasn't much to see en route to this strange little town called Lima, Ohio. Sebastian and Annie were warned to pronounce it the way the Lima Beaners would. So, they concentrated their efforts on their trip, which only had an hour and a half to go. They had just passed a town called Dayton and were heading north.
"It's cold." Annie said, cranking her windows up. The old Jalopy didn't hold heat well and she found it difficult to wear sweaters all the time. Coming from Arizona, it didn't get cool very often, but when it did, she usually coped. But there was something to this Ohio weather that she just couldn't figure out. At least, not yet.
"Want me to turn up the heat?" Sebastian offered.
"No. I'm fine."
"Fine! Turn it up!"
He pouted a little. "You don't have to get sour."
She feigned a smile. "Of course, I don't! But I'm fine." She pulled her white, button-down sweater tighter along her shoulders as they passed Piqua, Ohio.
Sebastian chuckled. "I keep forgetting how stubborn you are."
"Am too!" He stared at her.
"Sebastian! Watch the road!"
He returned his eyes and had to steer to the left to maintain his lane.
"I swear…" she muttered.
"But you still love me…"
She half-smiled, looking at him sideways. "Well…"
He smiled back. "Well, what?"
She pretended to heavily sigh. "Ohhhhhh…I SUPPOSE you were the only one around and I SUPPOSE I couldn't have you all sour around me and I SUPPOSE I felt sorry for you and well…what's a girl to do?"
He laughed out loud at that. "That's solid, girl."
"That's right it is!"
It became apparent as they approached Wapakoneta, Ohio that farmland would surround them in their new lives in Ohio. They weren't exactly looking forward to it, but Sebastian's new job promised lots of advancement opportunities, a fairly new idea called "stock options", and even a pesky labor union. But labor unions were right up there with Communists and he didn't like the sound of that. Unfortunately, Annie noticed.
"What's wrong?" she asked, adjusting her lipstick and pillbox hat.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm just…nervous. About the house. The company said it would be furnished."
She didn't reply. Instead, she reached into her purse and pulled out a piece of paper.
"Do you remember how to get there?" she asked, reading over the directions in her hand.
"I think so. I need the State Route 309 exit."
"That's right. Then you TURN right and go to Devonshire Drive. Turn left and-"
"I got it, dear."
She glanced at him. "Good. Good. Because if you get lost, well, I just might have to leave you."
"Leave me?" He asked with a smile.
"That's right. I can't have a husband who just can't follow directions. I mean," she adjusted the hem of her brown, polka-dot skirt, "you can't even follow MY directions."
Seb looked at her with fake alarm. "I ALWAYS do…DEAR!"
Then, she looked at him flirtatiously. "That's not what I'm talking about…" Then, she raised her skirt a little bit. Then, a bit more. And then, a LOT more.
Sebastian looked away. "Put that away. Wait 'til we get home. Want to get arrested for lewd activity?"
She leaned towards him, playing with his earlobe. "Maybe…"
He laughed. "Stop."
She returned the laugh and all too soon, their exit was available and the Smythes arrived in Lima, Ohio. Sebastian turned right, passing gas stations, some restaurants, a diner, and even a labor union hall. Then, they traveled for just a little bit before turning left on Devonshire Drive. They only had to drive for five seconds before they found their new home.
It was modest, by 1961 standards. A brick, one-story house with an attached garage and a chimney. Black shutters were on the windows and some small bushes, that needed a good trim, dotted the front porch. A wide driveway greeted them as they drove up the gentle incline and an obnoxious, iron rooster was mounted above it.
"That's the first thing to go." Sebastian said, glaring at it. Then, he set the brake and cut the engine. "Whew! I'm exhausted."
"Don't sleep yet." She said, emerging from the car. "We still have to move in."
"Oh shush! C'mon, Sebastian."
That very day, they entered the house as the happily married couple they were and inspected their new home. Dinner was canned beans and weenies. Power hadn't been turned on yet, so they used a kerosene heater to cook. They almost fell asleep after dinner. But Annie was insistent on something that only married couples shared (or should share) in those days and they went to bed together.
They didn't sleep right away.
The next morning, Sebastian glared into the morning sunshine. The first thing he realized was that the previous owners must've been smokers. He smelled it as he also rubbed his eyes. Turning over, he pulled out his Burka slippers and put them on. Another rub of his eyes and he was off to the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, he emerged into the kitchen where Annie was already preparing breakfast. He stared at her before she caught on he was there. He always admired her hourglass figure. Her frilly apron was secured behind her back and her long, thin arms handled the cast iron skillets with ease. She fixed her hair up and already had makeup on, a must for an early '60s American woman. She hummed a little to something on the little Zenith radio and Sebastian folded his arms over his belly.
"I like watching you."
She stood up, skillet in hand. "Do you, now?"
He walked up to her, lazily snaking his arms around her tight, little waist. She giggled.
"Stop, Seb! You'll be late for your first day of work. Have some breakfast and coffee before you go."
He checked his watch. "Actually, I don't have time."
"Sorry, babe. But I have to go. Can you put that in a sandwich for me?"
She looked a little disappointed but silently did what was asked. The delicious bacon and eggs were plastered between two pieces of Wonder bread and she poured some coffee into a metal Thermos. Meanwhile, Sebastian affixed his tie a little tighter and checked his reflection in the four-bread toaster. He inspected his teeth and put his suit coat on.
"Here ya' go, dear." She said, presenting his breakfast in a bag and Thermos.
"Thank ya', dear!"
"And you better eat that on the way to the office!" She turned to the sink and began washing dishes. "I can't have a hungry railroad accountant on my hands. And the office won't like that either."
"I'll be the best, darn railroad accountant this puny town has ever seen!"
She gleamed at him. "Go! Git!"
But then, he darted over towards her and kissed her cheek. "Get the power turned on. Bye, dear!"
It was too late. Sebastian was already out the door.
Lima Locomotive was located right in downtown, maybe three miles from Sebastian's house. When he walked into the main doors, he was greeted with what he expected – anxious travelers, hauling equipment loading boxcars, trains arriving and departing, and rude ticket booth workers. It appealed to him immediately, like home. It just had that certain feel that worked for him.
He strutted towards the main desk, his shoes clicking on the tiled floor. A mural stood on the far wall, a monument to Lima's historical advancements in railroads and railroad design. The security guard at the main desk directed him to the Employment office and soon, he was on his way towards the next step in his career.
His office would be on the third floor. Having no functional elevator, which mystified and frustrated him, he realized he would have to climb two sets of stairs every single day just to get to his office. But he was a young and fit man, and he was eager to start his day. Briefcase and coffee in his hands, he briskly flew up the steps and emerged on the third floor.
It looked like a typical, 1960s office. Secretaries pounded on typewriters, stamps punched in the daily mail, and a mimeograph machine rolled and rolled. He greeted a man with a pipe in his mouth and saw an attractive redheaded woman. Sebastian was directed to go down the hall and turn to the right. So, that's what he did.
When he made that turn, he almost collided into someone!
"Oh!" Sebastian exclaimed, coming to a halt. "I'm so sorry, miss. Are you alright?"
He stooped to pick up a file she dropped from the near collision, but she beat him to the punch.
"I'm fine." She muttered.
"Again, I'm so sorry. I'm new here and I-"
"Oh, you're new?" she asked. "Well, then, let me introduce myself. I'm Ms. Fabray."
"Hello, Ms. Fabray. I'm Sebastian Smythe. It's nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too, Mr. Smythe."
"Well, I best be going now." And then, he relented a bit. "And, I'll try not to knock you down again."
"I think I'd like that." Quinn said, with a wry smile.
He laughed. "Me too. Have a good day."
He watched her leave and hid the fact that he was mortified that he almost ruined his first day. Instead, he shook it off and headed down the hallway. When he reached the third office, he came to a stop. The man inside had his head down, furiously writing something with a pencil. Sebastian didn't quite know what to do, so he just straightened his posture and pulled his suit coat tighter. A new co-worker passed behind Sebastian, smoking a cigarette. He ignored the sudden smell but couldn't avoid coughing from it.
That's when the man looked up.
Hazel eyes met blue eyes and time seemed to stop. Neither one could breathe for a long moment… Until they remembered what they were doing.
"Uh, uh," Sebastian stammered as the man stood up. "My-my name is Sebastian Smythe. I'm your new accountant."
The large man stared at him for a little longer and then slowly rounded his desk, coming to a safe stop a few feet from Sebastian. Awkwardly, he stuck out his hand.
"I'm Dave. Dave Karofsky."
Sebastian was tiny compared to this large man and simply obliged by shaking his hand. Their hands connected and then disengaged all too quickly.
Dave smiled a little, very used to this situation. "Kar-of-sky."
The bigger gentleman smiled. "That's right. Karofsky."
"Sounds Soviet." Sebastian muttered. And then, his eyes went wide and couldn't believe what he just said! "I-I mean, it sounds… It sounds-"
"That's quite alright." Dave jovially said. "And yes, my ancestors are from Russia." And then, his voice deepened. "But I am not Soviet."
"I-I'm so sorry!"
Dave waved his hand. "It's alright. It really is." And then, he smiled. Sebastian watched, noting how Dave's full cheeks expanded and he almost looked boyish. Seb seemed momentarily hypnotized before dropping his head, almost in shame. And in some ways, it was.
"I was told to come to you," Seb awkwardly began, "since this is my first day on the job."
Dave brightened! "Oh, YOU'RE the new guy!"
Sebastian looked up and completely relaxed when Dave smiled. "Yes! Yes, I am!"
"Well, then!" Dave said, clapping a heavy hand on Sebastian's shoulder. "Good to have you aboard."
Dave looked at him curiously and Sebastian just looked away, devastated that he almost blew it again. At least, that's what he thought. But Dave seemed charmed.
"C'mon, Mr. Smythe." Dave said, rounding Seb and heading out of the office. "I'll take you to your new office."
Sebastian followed Dave down this hall and that. All around them, the normal business operations of the railroad business commenced. Secretaries answered calls, clerks filed, workers delivered, pencils were sharpened, nearly everyone smoked cigarettes, and Sebastian found he couldn't take his eyes off Dave's strong back and shoulders.
"Here we are!" Dave announced, coming to a stop.
Sebastian almost jumped. Instead, he stopped beside Dave and peered into his new office. It was antiquated and still had leftover Art Deco pieces about. Nevertheless, it would do and Sebastian would probably want to redecorate in some way.
"I'm sorry." Dave said.
"It…might not be what you're used to. You know, coming from Phoenix and all…"
But Sebastian merely smiled. "I think it's the best office I've ever had."
Dave broadly grinned. "Really?!"
A flicker coursed through Sebastian before he answered, "Absolutely! It's solid!"
They stared at each other. At the same time, their hands went into their pants pockets. And again at the same time, they looked down. Then, after a pair of embarrassed smiles, Sebastian took the lead.
"Well, I better get to work, Mr. Karofsky."
"Oh, yes!" Dave said. He turned to leave, got two steps ahead, stopped, and turned around. "Oh, and Sebastian?"
Seb, who hadn't stopped looking at him, said, "Yes?"
Dave happily said, "You can call me Dave!"