The next morning, Richard remembered to check the mailbox for mail before walking to his car and driving to work--it'd been a few days since he last remembered to. He threw the handful of papers he found in there on the passenger seat of his two-year-old Lexus, a vehicle he'd never anthromorphologized as he had his other cars, for some reason. And then in the elevator on the way up to his floor, when he finally got a chance to look through the handful of mail, he saw it: a picture postcard from the site of the Liberty Bell, in Philadelphia, PA. Was this from Beth? And if so -- of all the places to run away and hide in, why Philadelphia? Puzzling out the answer to this question occupied his thoughts for the rest of the morning, mercifully, so that for once he was deaf to the niggling background conversations so common to office life. He went online and did some research about the city, to see if anything about the place would provide clues to why Beth might have fled there. John Coltrane lived in Philadelphia, briefly, in a dangerous neighborhood with the intriguing name of Strawberry Mansion. Edgar Allen Poe also lived in Philadelphia for a while too. His concentration drifted and he thought about Beth's hair; she had a beautiful mane of hair when they first met, but she cut it all off one night to spite him, and she never let it grow back. Then he remembered it: her dad was from PA, not Philadelphia, though, one of the suburbs, but still-- that could be a reason for her to go there, to find some vein of comfort in the gnarled roots of her genes.
It wasn't her craziness, which made her so vulnerable to the whims of sane people, which had turned him off and made her intolerable. It'd been her selfishness. He was in fact tolerant to the point of excess regarding the types of craziness he'd only seen in women. In fact, sometimes he thought that was the only reason he didn't quit his job, which he hated (he wanted to own his own business, be his own boss, have some freedom at last) -- because of all the crazy women who worked there. God how he pitied, even envied, them all their fragility and just-barely-hanging-on-ness sometimes. He heard them talking as they walked in conspiratorial twos past his office, or exited the bathroom, and it seemed every on of them had an Achilles Heel located in the fragile pretty body of their personalities. They'd been named clinically depressed or chronically anxious or even bipolar by some doctor of theirs, who Richard always imagined to be assholes. To Richard, these women seemed brave as soldiers, to pull their camisoles over their heads and zip up their pants each morning despite the nervous trembling of their hands, to speak in normal tones to their supervisors when they wanted to shout or moan or cry instead. Unlike these brave, albeit mostly unpleasant women, Beth had given up, years ago, practically the second she met him, he felt. But he would save her anyway. So the adventure started.