Bruce Frederick Patterson was a very wealthy man with no need to work. He had his whole life in front of him and felt that he had no purpose. In the months that had passed since the discovery of the bag in the bus station, he had sold his parents house, sold cars and jewelry and found himself not feeling at home anywhere.
He had spoken with Monica on several occasions, met with Amanda and had met his half sister. But he did not feel at all settled in his life. He had no idea where he wanted to go, what he wanted to do or what he expected out of life.
Nick (or whatever his name was) had warned about seeking out the other families, but as Bruce got more and more restless he felt that he had to find the rest of his siblings and find out if all the other families had the same experiences his family went through.
Starting off with the list of names provided, Bruce got busy looking up his father’s alter egos. It took several months, but when he was done Bruce had discovered that he had 5 half sisters and 7 half brothers. All in that meant his father had fourteen children. He found that all families had similar experiences and all were taken care of financially. That made Bruce determined to discover all the scams his father had pulled off. How many people had been hurt by his deception? How many did not even realize they’d been deceived?
By Bruce’s thirty fifth birthday the idea of finding all the scams became an immeasurable task and he realized that his father had done too good of a job covering his tracks to ever have been discovered. It was time for Bruce to put Bruce first and starting living his life, rather than recreating the life of the man who was a habitual liar.
Nebraska was no longer home to him. He had a degree in business, but had never really used it. Resolute not to waste the rest of his life Bruce Patterson set off on a personal quest. Packing his car with everything he owned he headed west. He felt that he would know where home was as soon as he saw it.
Heading west on Highway 80, Bruce took time to enjoy the scenery. He had really never been to south west Nebraska before. As he headed west his surrounding changed. He went from farmland to the northeastern corner of Colorado; an area that caused him to be amazed. His original intention was to continue on Highway 80 through southern Wyoming and then head south through Utah, but when he reached the Colorado border he chose to continue through that state and changed his route to pick up Hwy 76. Little did he know that one decision would be the turning point of his future.
He had traveled no more than two miles into Colorado when his car hit something on the road and punctured his tire. His car broke down on the side of the road and he had no option but to walk. He continued walking west until he got to the junction of the 76 and the 59 where he headed north and found a gas station. Explaining where his car was, Bruce arranged for a tow truck to pick up his car and headed over to the local diner to wait.
The city he landed in was Sedgwick, Colorado. It was a small town with less than 200 residents. There was one diner, one hotel, one gas station and all the locals knew each other. The diner was nearly empty when he entered. The only waitress smiled at him and asked him if he wanted a seat at the counter or a booth. The booths were covered in cracked naugahyde that must have been installed in the early 60’s. The counter looked like it had seen better days and the stools were rickety at best. He chose the booth.
Shirley, that was the waitress’s name, told him that the menu was on the chalkboard and he could take his time. She must have been in her late sixties. He ordered a chicken fried steak and watched as Shirley yelled to the cook in the back. He stuck his head out to see who he was serving and it was obvious to him that this was Shirley’s husband.
“What brings you to our little slice of heaven?” Shirley asked. “You just passing through?”
“Flat tire brought me here,” Bruce responded, “and I’m not sure if I’m staying or not. I really have no plans for where I’m going.”
“Now how can a nice young man like you not have any plans?”
“It’s quite a long story, ma’am.” Bruce answered, realizing that he really never told anyone the story. The only people who knew anything about it were also affected by it.
“Look around son, I’m not too busy to listen to a story.” Shirley smiled kindly at Bruce as she slid in the seat across from him. “I’m a great listener.”
Bruce looked into the face of this older woman and suddenly understood how all alone he was and had been. He had not had a conversation with anyone in a long time, except about what he was trying to accomplish at that moment. He had been so consumed with learning, surviving, creating a life and determining who he was that he had not been living. Now that the opportunity to live as he wanted was in front of him he had no idea which direction to turn.
Bruce told Shirley everything. His story went on for hours and during that time he ate his chicken fried steak and proclaimed it to be, “The best thing I’ve ever eaten.”
Shirley brought him coffee and pie which he immediately devoured as he continued with the story. Shirley listened respectfully, nodding where appropriate. When the story was finished the sun was setting. The diner was getting more customers and the mechanic entered the diner. “Sir, we have your car, however we have to order that particular tire. It is going to take at least two days. Were you in any kind of rush to leave?”
Bruce shook his head and told the man, “That’s not a problem. I really don’t have any immediate plans.”
“All righty then, come on by the garage on Thursday and you should be good to go. In the meantime the hotel across the street will make you feel like you’re home.”
Bruce paid his tab.
Shirley said, “We’ll be busy until around eight and close shop at nine if you find yourself getting lonely. And we make the best breakfast in town, well actually we make the only breakfast in town.”