John's name was no longer on the message.
"What happened? Is he dead or divorced?" Sue wondered.
"He's dead." Sue said, "I just know it. I haven't received emails from him for months. This is similar to what happened before Brian died." He stopped answering calls for about three months, never letting Sue know he was sick. Sue met both of these friends in her teens.
With tears streaming down her cheeks, Sue's blurry eyes and shaking fingers googled John's brother's address in a Pennsylvania phone directory. There was no match for his name and age in Shrewsbury, so Sue hunted for the name of the restaurant where John's sister-in-law worked. She would know something about "Johnny", a name she had called him since she started dating his brother decades ago. The restaurant was closed due to Covid 19.
Nervously chewing on a pen, Sue googled John's childhood friend in North Carolina. She found several people with his name, but the ages were wrong.
Thoughts raced through Sue's mind. John could be divorced,
So, Sue googled the house John built for his wife when he retired, "Gail's Mansion," he called it. The owners' names weren't listed, so Sue couldn't find out if John had divorced that way.
Still shaken by the possibility that John could be dead, Sue called Gail again, never mentioning the possibility of John's death. She knew Sue as one of John's friends from "the old neighborhood." If they divorced, Gail may be taking out her anger with John by ignoring his friends' calls.
Then, a memory of John's group email address popped into Sue's mind as clearly as if it were written on her phone screen. She grabbed the phonebook from the bookshelf and quickly flipped through the pages. Not knowing who might read this group email, Sue wrote, "John, this is Slick," John's
high school nickname for her. "Please send me your phone number."
Within an hour, a succinct message appeared on Sue's phone: John' first and last names and a phone number. She called the number as fast as her fingers could press the numbers on her phone keyboard.
When John said "Hello" in his Baltimore accent, Sue said, "I'm so glad to hear your voice. How are you?"
"Okay," he said. Then he explained the new phone situation. "Gail and I have separate phone numbers. Her phones are in the kitchen and bedroom, in case her children and grandchildren need her help. Mine is in my home office.
John and Sue said goodbye, but not for long. John's emails started coming into her phone the next day.