Newport News, Virginia, I just love the sound of it. I like the way the words roll off my tounge, I like the way the "p" in "port" breaks up the two '"n's" of "Newport" and "News." Of course it's true that it also makes me think of the mail-order women's clothing catalouge, but not as much as it used to.
Now when I hear Newport News, I mostly think of Billy Jackson. In fact he's the very reason I even know of Newport News, Virginia. Before he called I didn't know much of anything about Virginia, excepting what they teach you in school about it being one of the orignial 13 colonies and home to Thomas Jefferson, who of course loved that black woman Sally Hemings. But I think that's okay; I even like Thomas Jefferson for it and can see where he is coming from, because I'm fairly certian Billy Jackson is black. I can just tell by his voice and his way of talking. But I don't care. Or maybe that's even part of it.
Newport News is way over on the far side of Virginia, right on the water. I looked it up. It's about as far away as you can get from here, but I can picture it in my mind. It's green with lots of brick buildings and old statues and other mossy traditional stuff. (I did go to Washington DC in 8th grade, so I do know something about that part of the country.)
I don't have a good picture of what Riverside Health System looks like, but I can picture Billy at his desk. I know he's in billing or accounts payable or whatever they may call it there in Newport News, and I know he's not in some big shared office because I couldn't hear anyone in the background when he called. Both times we spoke it was just him and his nice manners and his slow way of speaking.
And I can see his phone number plain as day. It's right here on my desk, although truth be told, the cleaning staff could throw it away tonight and it wouldn't matter. I know it by heart. And when I get the nerve up I'm going to call that Billy Jackson and not hang up like the other times.