John watched as Bear helped the girls move their sleeping bags and back packs over to a clear space on the factory floor. He didn’t see what Madison saw in Cammy, but it was her choice, and she wouldn’t get a second chance with him. He came close to slamming his fist into the cement floor.
Not frustrated at all, he told himself. Not even a little.
He was about to roll out his sleeping bag and go to sleep, maybe tomorrow would have a different spin, he thought briefly, when Bear walked over and dropped down in a squat next to him. He moved so fast and easy for a big man. “Hey,” John was startled into saying.
Bear smiled. “Didn’t mean to startle you… Thought you saw me coming.”
“No… No, you didn’t startle me at all,” John lied.
Bear nodded. He cleared his throat a little. “Maddy and I talked a little… This place is safe, but it isn’t where we need to be, so we thought we’d light out… Tomorrow… Jersey, maybe further, either way, out of the city is the goal.”
“Maddy?” John asked. “So it’s like that.”
Bear kept the smile on his face. “Listen,” he leaned close, too close, but it was a tactic he reserved for situations just like this back in the old world. “She wants to go… With Cammy,” he spread his hands, huge hands, “It is what it is, man.”
John shook his head. “I don’t see it. It’s a new world… Who knows how many of us may have died off… If you look at New York alone it’s got to be millions.”
Bear nodded, not really sure where John was going.
John leaned close. “So how do you build a population back up if the women are only with the women?”
Bear shook his head. “You know what I said to Maddy a few moments ago?” He didn’t wait for John to answer. “She said something about the way you have a tried to impose upon her that she needs a man, and I said, ‘What a dick.’ That’s what I said, ‘What a dick.”
John just glared from under his lowered brows.
“Grow up, John, or go your own way, but as for those two?” He looked over at Madison and Cammy. “Don’t mess with them anymore… I understand your thoughts might have gotten messed up… It’s tough times like this that can do that, but they are their own, not your own.” He patted one huge hand against John’s shoulder, smiled and then stood and walked away…