Tuesday, November 27, 2012



Roscoe moved up in line to the bank teller, and he rattled the withdrawal slip in his hand. The teller did not regard him until she saw his name on the paper. Her posture changed from the tired Monday morning employee to the snapped attention of a soldier. Roscoe slid the slip to her and tapped her hand gently.

"I have no need for a manager, it is just a small transaction."

He smiled at her and she looked back at him with the face of a subordinate that had to follow protocol. 

"If you have to go get him, it's okay."

The teller waddled off and got the manager. Roscoe watched them talk behind the glass walls. He wondered what these people did in those offices. Suddenly the whole bank was a buzz with the news that he was there. He had not been there in so long that he wondered if any of them had ever seen him in the flesh. Surely he had been the subject of a meeting or two. They were always trying to set him up appointments with investment bankers and financial planners. That made him laugh, if they were so smart with money, why did they need to mess around with his?

"Hello Mr...."

Roscoe interrupted the manager and smiled disarmingly.

"Please, don't make a fuss. I just need to make a withdrawal. I don't want all this attention. You are doing a fine job, I am happy with the bank."

He looked down into his hat unable to stop the flow of emotion. He didn't deserve this attention. He hated that feeling of tears forming. He was so familiar with their arrival and yet every time they came he was surprised and nervous. He hated being treated like a man that was important. He was rich quite literally by accident, the one that took his Lilly from him. He felt a single tear break away and run down his face.

"Would it be possible for you to put into that file of mine, that I do NOT want to meet the manger every time I make a transaction? I just want to withdraw a few dollars. You have my withdrawal slip. Here is my license. Please, (his hand was shaking as he held out his license) just let me come and go like anyone else."

The manager was now flustered and Roscoe felt the inevitable twinge of guilt. He hated any confrontation. He hated to be singled out. He loved more than anything to not be noticed at all, to live within his thoughts and to pass the time. He only enjoyed talking to people that knew nothing of him. To be mistaken as just another man was his life's greatest ambition, but there would be none of that today.

Roscoe hit the stack of bills sideways on the counter with a crack and turned to leave. As he walked to the door he tried to force the bills into his money clip and it broke in two. The money cascaded out of his hands and fell like leaves to the floor. He knelt down and began grasping at the bills and the broken pieces of the his favorite souvenir. He looked at the hand painted mountain scene from Germany and the piece of the broken gold clip. He let out a stifled groan as he stuffed the wreckage of the bills and broken pieces of clip into his pocket. He shuffled out of the bank in an embarrassed rush, lost his balance on the curb and fell to the ground. He caught himself on one knee and his right hand. He slowly rose again and staggered toward the car. He started his car and reached for the ivory gear shift knob. He paused and looked at the picture on the money clip again. The tears fell out of his eyes now and rolled off the wool of his coat. The tellers and the manager watched from he window of the bank and Roscoe felt like an animal in a zoo. He was an oddity and had been since the moment his Lilly left this earth. He was a living ghost that his God had condemned to wander among the living. He could not die and to live was a Herculean struggle. He tried everyday to keep moving, to help people, and to build things, because Lilly would be mad with him for giving up. He knew living alone was the price he paid for his sins. He tried to put the pieces of the clip together in a desperate exercise of denial, hoping some miracle would mend the one keepsake he cherished above all others. He gently put the pieces into his breast pocket and eased out of his space until he heard the honk of a horn. He was startled and scared and just wanted to get away. The angry driver yelled something as he eased his old bug out into the impossible traffic on North Monroe Street. He back tracked through the neighborhoods to Miccosukee Road. Passing under I-10 far from town, he finally started to feel at peace. He and this old car were not meant for these hurried times. They were built for slow country roads and trips with out time limits.

He pulled through his gate and got out to lock it. It was already cold and the seasons first hard freeze was rolling in with the setting sun. He locked the gate and looked out over the grass towards the tree line. God, she loved the sunsets. Lilly would have made him wait till the sun was down. She would have made him shut the car off and look. She would have held his hand and looked at the sky and he would have watched her instead. He loved the way she captured special moments. She never let him forget the beauty of this life. She taught him how to notice things and how to slow down. She left him with a gift he could never forget and now every sunset or flower or first cold wind of the season, was a melody that sang her name. She was everywhere he looked and he could not spend one moment of life without thoughts of her and what she would say about everything in his sight. Sometimes he would hear a distant noise in the house and for a split second (before he remembered she was gone) he would get a respite of relief. Other times, when he was watching TV or laying in bed, he would smell the faint hint rose water. He would close his eyes and not move. The aroma of her perfume would waft over him, slowly fading back into the coldness of being alone. It was in these solitary mirages, that he felt her gently leading him forward, like a light on the horizon.

 It took a long time to get the fire going and by the time he had heated the stew and made it to his chair, he was tired. He poured a tall glass of wine and sat down in his chair to watch the flames and eat. He had one of those music stations playing from the satellite dish. He finished eating and sat there drinking for a long time. Percy Sledge came out of the speakers and he was transported back to the day she gave him the money clip. They were in Germany in a small hotel by Lake Konigsee. The money clip had Watzmann Mountain painted on it. It had been a month since he bought that little car and they had been meandering from one town to the next. Someone would tell them that they had to see a village or a mountain and off they would go to find it.

Lilly climbed into the car and clasped her hands together which was a clue for Roscoe to pick a hand. He tapped her right one and she giggled and turned it over to reveal the gift.

"Now you will never forget our visit here or last night!"

He put his hand on her leg and slid up her skirt. The pattern of her stockings rippled under his fingers and he moved the fabric just high enough to see the beginning of her underwear. She looked around and then back at Roscoe. She put her hand on top of his and she watched his face as he looked down. He adored every inch of her and she loved to see the wonder in his eyes when he looked at her. She leaned in and kissed him. He held her face and then let his hand drift down to her coat. He slid an index finger in between the fabric and moved it away so he could see inside her shirt. He was addicted to her and helpless. He was unable to be aware of anything except the thought of her skin and her body. It was if they had just made love seconds ago and the memory of being tangled together possessed him. He could not think of anything else but the hidden parts of her. It was as if he knew a secret about her and the person she was when she was naked. He wanted to trigger the other woman that lived inside her. He needed nothing, not sleep, food or air. He only needed to be inside her again and enough light from the fire to reveal the magic of her. He strained to remember every curve and texture of her. She moved in closer to him and breathed in his ear. She held his hand tighter and neither one of them wanted to move, ever again. They wanted to stay in this blind haze of love forever.

"There are no more rooms here and we have four hours of mountain roads in between us and Austria. Why do you torture me? Please Roscoe, you have to stop. You are making me crazy, we have to drive. Please baby. You know its too bad we don't have one of those vans. We could pull over anywhere we wanted, draw the curtains and put out the fire. But you bought this bug and it is ALL your fault."
Lilly teased him and giggled, but she never pushed him away.

He leaned away and looked at her again, suddenly aware they were in a small gravel parking lot. They laughed and held onto each other. No one had ever wanted him like she did. He never knew he could make a woman feel the way he made her feel. He never felt like he was trying anything with her. She wanted his hands on her, like he was the answer to all her dreams. He felt pure and safe for the first time in his life. He looked out the window and then back at the money clip. He put his cash in there and realized he would remember this moment, and how he loved her for the rest of his life. He started the car and headed up the long Bavarian road out of the valley. He could smell the rose water and hear the gravel crumbling under the tires.

The fire crackled as Roscoe's hand let go of the wine glass and he gave in to sleep. The TV tray swayed slightly under the weight of his arm. The last few red drops eased out and rolled over the clip and the three thousand dollars. It stained the bills and the painted mountain scene, finally forming a puddle by his wrist.


Roscoe mumbled in a whisper.

"I love you Lilly.......Lilly...."

Roscoe drifted off to sleep. He was in Germany. It was a beautiful day for a drive to Austria with his Lilly.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Beacon


The overcast sky hides the cold, miles behind its curtain. He is late again. He stayed up deep into the night making notes, and clocking song tempos. He stays in his lane and watches the frantic behavior among the flow, that actually care they are late. They can't keep their cars in their lane, they can't decide to take the short cut. They spin their heads, brake erratically and transmit their bad energy from car to car slowly infecting the traffic.

A few lifetimes ago, this was surf season. The dark skies marked the return of the fall swells, the south running mackerel, the Blacktips that chased them, and stiff north east winds. With a leg up on the dash, he would steer the horizontal wheel of his V.W. bus one handed. He twisted down Indian River Drive past the second rate aristocracy of Ft. Pierce. The (old money) Spanish style houses watched the river, smelled the putrid low tide, and tried to convince themselves they were still royals. Each iron gated mansion, hid empty servants houses and the owners dark dreams to fill them with someone to lord over. He rarely looked at the houses instead trying to read the river for clues of the wind and tide. He would surf before work at North Jetty Surf Shop, hanging T-shirts and selling beach clothes to rich northern ladies. All he ever thought about was getting out, and escaping that town. It was proof that even when he was young he was never content. It was not a symptom of age and loss, it was a congenital flaw he carried from birth, like the hole in the atrium of his heart.

He rolls into the parking lot and scores a space up front. It was twenty five years ago, when he left in the middle of the night and came to Tallahassee. He enrolled in T.C.C. met a guitar player, formed a band and dropped out after two semesters. It was all just a blur of gigs, bands, jobs, marriage and kids. He opens the door to his office, just like he had every day for fifteen years. Dark grey cement block walls and a computer await in the converted storage closet. From this desk he has edited hundreds of legal seminars. This job has been base camp to all that was good in this life. A family, health coverage, a steady check and a two hundred dollar Christmas bonus each year. This little closet office with two windows, allowed him to manage bands, ride bikes, and to show up an hour late once in a while. He wondered if he would ever leave this place. He wondered if some part of him was in this room forever like some residual ghost, stuck in an endless loop on security footage. He drinks hot tea with sugar and no milk, it is awful. He looks through tiny slits in the Venusian blinds. Leaves break loose of their moorings and acorns bounce off of cars like ping pong balls.

It was all bearable now that he had a gig. He could push the rock up  hill again. The carrot (however impossible) was on the stick. The new bands first gig went well and the songs were good. They would be in the studio with a producer again. He would be playing drums and singing. He would not be coaching hungover, tattooed, punks. He would be in the booth, playing for the first time in twelve years. He would be safe in the place where he knew how to behave. Hope is the light that feeds the soul, and he hadn't felt like this in years. If it was all a delusion, and came crashing down like rain, he would take it. There is always time for regret and tears, but hope was a jewel in the maze. He wanted to bathe in it, to roll it around in his mouth, he wanted to remember every second. He wanted to move slowly and paint the cave walls in his mind with these feelings he never thought he'd have again.

Two months ago it was all a conversation about something that might happen. Now there were 18 songs, a producer, and a reserved studio. It all seemed funny, but he dared not analyze it for fear of loosing the beacon. He focused and took a moment to remember the hope of having a chance. He counted down the minutes to lunch and a trip to Cabo's.