Sunday, April 22, 2012
He was out for his daily walk on the beach when he saw her, reading a book, minding her own business.
She had a colorful big rainbow spreading hat on. Or was it a white hat and a colorful beach towel drapped over the back of her beach chair? The beach chair with arm rests. Her exposed skin outside the shadow of her hat was glistening in the sun. The coconut smell was the dead give away – tourist.
He was reminded of a silly joke that he had heard years ago. ‘If it is tourist season why can’t we shoot them?’ He chuckled to himself. She looks like she’d be a nice trophy.
But, she seemed like a nice person. Why? Composure? Maybe. Very much into her book. Must be a good one. From the angle of the book in front of her he could not tell what it was.
He strolled on past her along the beach. Just glancing in her direction not wishing to stare or disturb. Tourists and their vacations – way too short. So glad to now be retired. Doing all the things that he loved and now filled his days with. Reading like her, writing things like this.
The calm of early morning was just now giving way to the trades which would be increasing as the sun climbed higher, passing over the island. A gentle fragrant breeze now. The calm of the sea giving way to the ruffling texture of the light winds across the surface. On a tropical equatorial isle, the only real means of knowing what season it is. But if you stayed here long enough and lived for years, you would note the different floral accents: plumeria summer, gardenia and pikaki fall, ginger winter and spring Jacaranda.
The mind wonders on walks. While you are on sensual perception mood your mind is all over the place with no rhythm or apparent reason. Suddenly you have a thought that knocks on your door of consciousness, ‘By the way', says this inner voice, 'What about this and what about that? Are you going to just keep ignoring these issues?’ ‘Yes. For now’, you say to yourself.
Along the beach front are numerous places that have become pleasant scenes which you have found yourself looking for on each of these walks. The outrigger canoes from the two clubs at the park. The Koolau Mountains running perpendicular to the beach on the far horizon. The white sandy beach at tides in and out scrolling with coconut trees, iron woods at the properties edge to someone’s place. The two wooden ornamental wooden owls under the eves of the A-frame to keep the doves and pigeons away. Hummm, it seems to work. And every house different. Some seeming to fit the mood of the beach much more than others. Others some idea of what ‘I’ want to live in – no matter where. But it all fits. And is pleasant. And then, then there is the vast and seemingly endless blue Pacific with the waves themselves now finally coming to rest on the beach for their Hawaiian Holiday.
Now at the end of the park, turning around and heading back to his own beach front home, he sees up in the distance the lady still there. A solitary person having found this secluded beach. And just to think, she found this paradise only 8 miles across from Waikiki which throngs with hordes of tourists having to wait in line to eat at all the restaurants. Crowded. Noisy. Some vacation. Well, she seems to be into her niche.
Now coming back along side her again from the opposite direction she is still engrossed in her read... still can’t make it out. Oh well!
Another time. Another place perhaps.
The setting sun was a blaze of orange, making the wheat field glow as if on fire. Finally, after a couple of years of dismal crops, it looked as if the Gods were smiling on him.
The early spring days of tilling where more than diligently done. He worked from dawn to dusk. His wife which he always called ‘Mom’ for the kids sake would drive out in the old Ford pick-up and hand him his lunch and two ice cold fresh bottles of water at the end of the rows. No words would be spoken between them. He’d show her his determination and she understood.
After taking half the contents of the first bottle he would set it on the shelf and reach out to take the second from her which he would put between his legs. Then he’d grab the sandwich, nod with a half smile and be off again, releasing the clutch and swinging the tiller around into the next rows.
She would watch him as he moved away from her, lost in the memories of having seen this view her whole life. Loving the smell of fresh tilled earth. She would close her eyes and breath deeply, inhaling the belief of her being: who she was and what she did and always wanted to be. She would hold it with a full chest and slowly release it opening her eyes, looking at the Western horizon for the first signs of clouds. Yes! There they were. As they should have been for the last few years. Rain would be coming soon and none too soon with the fields being nearly ready.
Yes! It was going to be a good year.
Country life always has the best smell. He had known it in his heart and soul from a child.
As he is mid way through the rows and his eye catches Mom in the faded red pick-up heading to a joint rendezvous at the end of the row. Him switching his view of her and the rows to stay straight. Lining up the left head light with the second furrow and keeping it there as he sways and bounces a little pulling the weight of the tillers.
Mom looking at him from the cab of the pick -up timing it so she can come abreast of him and not have to get out of the cab to hand him the first bottle. Ready with the second and the sandwich.
The early coolness has evaporated into the warmth of the sun covered fields. She has driven out on this end of the rows just to smell the flow of earth scent released and tossed.
He comes out of the row to make his turn not having to worry about her, knowing she knows better to be an obstacle while he swings the tractor half way around and keep his alignment with the rows and to come abreast of her.
Idle hands idle mind. Off again.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Sitting comfortably on the end of the dock, she stares across the mirror-perfect lake at the island about 10 miles away. She can tell it is inhabited because of the boat moored on the beach. The drift of lazy smoke with no mind of its own. Always, just that one if any at all. And now thinking about it, only just sometimes. Even during winter. Just sometimes.
For all these years, living here, coming here to be by her self, staring out at that island. It has became her solitude as well as ...whose?
Thinking about it now she turned to look back over her shoulder at Fred’s Bait and Groceries behind her. I’ll bet Norman knows. I wonder if Fred is in.
She glances at her wrist watch. Two-forty five. Naaah, Fred is probably napping by now. I’ll bet Norman would know.
She gets up off the end of the dock and before turning and walking back off the dock to the shop, stands and stares at the island again. Peaceful.
Turning now, walking back along the dock glancing into the water to see all the rocks dark and gloomy on the bottom, an occasional darting trout, she listens for the creeks in all the boards she knows to step on as she strolls along.
On the black top she crosses over and up the stairs skipping a few and into the shop, pushing the door and jingling the door bells, “Hey Norman. How ya doing?”
Norman glancing up from the newspaper sitting there, leaning forward on his stool, “Hey Cass!”, not needing to tell her, ‘same oh, same oh’.
Cass now on the opposite side of the counter waits for him to lay the paper down. “Who lives on the island?”
Norman, raising his eyebrows slightly. He has known Cass now for about four or five years and her Mom Kathy. “Well Cass, if I was to tell you, you’d have to swear you won’t tell. It ain’t that I don’t trust you, but I think I know you well enough to tell you so you won’t go blabbing it all around Maxwell. We got a deal?” Norman ready to read her expression.
“Really? It’s some kind of a secret?”
“Well, yes it is.”
“Well then, you got my word on it.”
“And you not going to share this with anyone or make a fuss or go out and bother him?”
“I was just curious. I don’t mean to make no trouble.”
“Well, I don’t recon you would Cass. Names Joe Cocker. Mean anything to you?”
“Didn’t recon it would. Joe Cocker is a musician. That island there is his get away. He uses it on a need to need bases. If his boat is there, he’s there.”
“Yeah, I see his boat and the smoke for his chimney.”
Norman glances up to look through the front window. “Yep. He’s there.”
“So, who’s Joe Cocker?”
Norman smirks a little with a half raised smile. “Joe Cocker is one of the real rebel rousers anti-government anti-Vietnam protesters that there ever was. Him, Joan Bias, Bob Dylan, and about a dozen other very popular bands back in the sixties and seventies were the thorn in the side of the US Government.”
“My Mom probably knows of him.”
“But you are not going to tell her, are you?”
“A promise is a promise Norman. Does anyone else know about him being there?”
“Oh, a few.”
“Well, thanks Norman. And thanks for the trust.”
Norman looks her in the eyes and says, “Well, Cass your welcome. But, I don’t mean to be so blunt but this here issue is a make or break friendship thing between us.”
“Okay then. Enough said. Go on over and get one of chocolate bars your always buying. This one’s on me.”
“Well then”, now smiling broadly, “I’ll just have to come in and ask you more questions Norman.”
“Get outa here!”
Thursday, April 19, 2012
He thought he'd have a bit of fun here. Brent would never know what hit him! Neither would Susan.
...Summer time in Mississippi was always slow in the evenings. Neighbors were outside on their patio’s sitting, chatting with each other. Big ol sycamores and willows holding what air moved, what gossip was spread.
Movies were always popular in the air conditioned theater. Laughs and maybe tears all with popcorn and Coke with too much ice.
Lots of folks on the bayou would float out under the canopy of stars on those evenings to fish, and just be by themselves. Not interested in gossip. Their gaze always upwards reflecting upon the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians and Palestine’s wondering if Orion looked the same back then.
The Fourth of July was always the big event of those lazy days, with the watermelons, horse shoe throwing, and barbeques down by the river park into the late evening. Brent had always thought fireworks were candy for the eyes. Never long enough.
But, it was the County Fair that brought the circus to town with the same ancient amusement rides every year. Vickburg being the county seat meant a chance to meet someone new. Maybe catch the eye of a pretty girl that only saw him as he is now. Not knowing him for all his childhood pranks and a time when he loved to be just plain silly. Not realizing that tabs were being kept by everyone here that knew him, or at least thought they did.
All the handy wares and cooked wares plus the 4-H "Best-of-All" competition located over at the livestock pavillion were among the favorite places. Everyone always trying to ring the bottle and win their honey a big stuffed bear.
Yeah, these were the days of summer in Vicksburg, Mississippi for everyone. Everyone, that is, except for Brent.
It isn’t that he gave all that much thought to what he believed was only going to be a funny prank; a prank to be remembered by. That was really all he ever wanted, to be remembered in association with something big, something that would bring a smile or laugh on someone's face. Something to offset the smashed-in front window of the hobby shop on Miller Street. Honestly, he swore he had simply lost his balance looking at the models hanging in the window front.
So when he snuck into the Fairgrounds that Saturday night at 3:00 AM he was just going to ‘turn-on’ all the rides: the Ferris-wheel, the Merry-go-round, the Dumbo Ride, the Tea Cup Ride, the ‘Big Drop’, and the Roller Coaster with a Ronald McDonald's look alike at the controls. So he ‘stole’ the Ronald McDonald from the local McDonalds and glued him to the controls booth having broken into them and throwing the master switch and set all of these rides and the entire circus, again at 3:00 AM, into ACTION. Music blaring. Lights blaring and him laughing all the while the security guard screaming with his... girl friend? Wow! Where were they? Oh! There they are in the Roller Coaster seats, now going lickity-split, around and around... and around.
Meanwhile Clyde Hutchison woke up needing to pee something fierce. He initially got out of bed with the intent of navigating his way into what was normally his darkened bathroom, all without bumping into a single thing as usual. Having lived there all his life, he knew the place pretty well so there was never any need for lights. But, tonight the room was lit brightly and he could see pretty well. He could also see Jerry and Cindy flying by in the first seat of the Roller Coaster and, as he timed it, once every minute.
Clyde scratched his head and thought, “What time is it?" Shuffling back into the bedroom, he reached for his watch on the bedside table and turned it over twice until he figured that he knew it wasn’t 9:00 PM because he’d gone to bed after the news at 10:30 PM and so then it must be 3:00 AM. So, what was the Circus doing with everything on at 3:00 AM? He walked back into his bathroom to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Nope! He wasn't dreaming. There was Jerry and Cindy, Cindy still screaming, by the way, and still passing by his window every minute on the minute.
Susan was awakening now. She rolled over and asked Clyde, “What’s all the racket?”
“The Circus is all the racket.”
“Go see for yourself.”
Susan got up out of bed and did her own unique shuffle to the bathroom. She stood there and watched Jerry and Cindy fly past her twice before she returned to the bedroom. She turned on the lights and looked Clyde straight into his eyes and said, “You know what I think?”
“No Susan. I don't know what you think.”
“Of course not. I know that. But, I’m gonna tell you anyways.”
“That I knew.”
“Call the police and tell them someone is playing a mean prank on Jerry and to get over here before he tries to get off that Roller Coaster and hurt himself. Do that first and then I'll tell you what to do next.”
Clyde, knowing not to argue, does as he's told.
In the middle of this conversation between Clyde and Tom, the Police Officer who is related to Susan by the marriage of her sister to Vic and which Tom is his brother, Susan grabs the phone out of Clyde’s hand.
“Tom, this is Susan. Get your butt down here now", she yelled into the receiver. "Jerry Crutchfield's on the Roller Coaster with Cindy and someone's turned the damn thing on... along with the rest of the circus rides. We need to get it all turned off!” She slams the phone receiver down.
Now, looking over at Clyde again, “Ok, get out there quickly and tell Jerry and Cindy... tell them to sit tight, hold on and someone will be coming to rescue them. Go on, move it. Now!”
“How am I suppose to tell them all of that with all that noise from them going around and around and around?”
She throws up her hands and shakes them in circles overhead as if to rid herself of annoying mosquitos, or something, “Never mind! Get out of my way”
Clyde, having learned the hard way from the past what to do when a woman is determined, smartly steps aside.
Susan jerks off her night gown and fights her way into her tight-fitting pants hanging on the bedpost. After wrestling into her wrinkled blouse with a missing button, she heads for the back door, opens it and walks across the back yard. There, she opens the gate to the County Fairgrounds and struts confidently over to the rumbling Roller Coaster. She waves to get Jerry and Cindy's attention on the first round. After eight minutes, they finally yell back at her, “Okay!”
She looks around and sees The Fair's main building that was built back in the thirties. She figures that might be the main source of electricity for the entire Fairgrounds. She walks over and notices Ronald McDonald through the door. With all the music playing loudly yet rhymically to the general mechanical rumbling generated by all the rides, she notices the clown has been glued to the controls, each lever fixed in the ‘on’ position.
She walks back outside to look for the main switch typically housed inside a metal box. She spies one but it is bolted closed. She walks back through her gate and into her garage. Clyde stands there staring at her. Without saying a word, she grabs a sledge hammer from the corner and returns to the Fairgrounds. By now, the deafening roar of the mechanical circus ruckamaroll is accompanied and eventually being drowned-out by the ever-increasing blare of police sirens. Well, at least Cindy's stopped screaming.
But, Susan has it in her mind to take care of this situation all by herself, once and for all, and get back to sleep.
She smashes the electrical control main breaker. Not once or twice, but three times. The lid surrenders to her determination allowing her to reach inside and pull down on the main electrical circuit breaker.
Brent, viewing all of this from the vantage point of his nest atop the Fairy-Go-Round, suddenly yells, “No!”
But, is it too late? Clyde is without instruction for the remainder of his life.
Moral of the story: "Ronald is not always a Happy Meal – you know!"... in a round-about sort of way.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
In the high serene dry desert of the new Mexico, north of old Mexico, stands rising lifted and tilted up what is called the Sangre de Christo – The blood of Christ. The name given by the Spaniards – Conquistadors. This mountain range birthing from two slow colliding platonic plates of aged earth stands like a tablet to the wise and learned – whose inhabitants solely from long knowing – are: The Sioux, the Apache, The Hopi, the Navajo, the Southern and Mountain Ute, the Pueblo enclaves and at the very moment first seen with human mind, the Anasazi –the Ancient Alien Ones of Mesa Verde, Bandelier and another place lost.
This great rise of earth is the Continental divide. All part of the same up thrust of crushing colliding earth called the Rocky Mountains and to the south the Andes.
The Navajo call these mountains Sandia. Watermelon. A split watermelon which is red.
This red can clearly be seen in the setting sun.
Bien Mur – Big Mountain is the name given by the Hopi and Pueblo Indians.
As a child I would stand atop this range with my Grandfather, Shelby and look out and take this in. In all my travels around the world I used this knowledge to see and understand the rest.