Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Waking Up


She is running through a field and Joey's chasing her. They are in a sheep pasture up above the place he surfed in Santa Barbara. She could see the the little dots of surfers out on the point. It was one of those breezy perfect days you learn to ignore in California. He is taking pictures of her but she's feeling playful and uncooperative. She's running, trying to make him chase her. Just when he thought she was going to pose, she runs again. She's laughing so hard she can't breath and finally leans over to catch up with her heart. The amber grass shares hues of her caramel skin and gold hair. She continues to play and run from him and just when it looked like he might give up and loose his patience, she pulls her hand knitted shirt over her head and throws it away. She looks over her shoulder. He takes her picture and falls for her, in the blink of a shutter. She's been holding that flower all morning, spinning it in her fingers and day dreaming. They were on the beach and decided drive up the hill while the tide switched. He captured her there, and all of who she was that day. She was caught like a firefly in his lens in front of those green Santa Barbara hills that matched the color of her bikini. She falls onto a blanket and watches him walk out of the sun. He takes his camera from his neck and sets it on the edge of the quilt. She stops laughing and looks up at him. She pulls her arms away from her chest, glances down at her bare breasts and then back up at him. It's the fall of 1971. It is the best season of her life. She is nineteen.

"Gretna, wake up honey. The surgery is over, c'mon honey, open your eyes. I have some water for you. Everything is fine, try to open your eyes."

Roscoe had pulled all the wood from the fallen porch and stacked it near the garage. He spent a few days pulling nails and separating the trash from the the good. He was done with the ramp and other than a few nails and screws, was able to finish the entire thing with what he salvaged. When the roof cascaded off of the house into a pile of intertwined lumber, it took with it the steps and an old chain swing. He figured she would need a ramp to get into the house. Those steps were as useless as the porch and he presumed they were both built by the same lazy hands. This whole house seemed ill supported and in need of work. For now she could be wheeled up and that made him feel better. He saw some paint cans, whose drippings matched the porch deck color and tomorrow he'd look to see if it could be stirred and used. For today he was done and he loaded his tools into his old bug and strapped the wooden step ladder to the luggage rack on top. He wiped his hands with a towel and admired his work. He loved to do things right and to help. Today he had done both. He reached into the passenger side and grabbed a bowl and some kibble. As he filled it, the dog came from the woods and wagged his way toward him. He sat it down next the water bowl and smiled.

"See ya tomorrow."

She is watching the boys come down the walk. No matter what was going on in her life, she loved seeing those kids come home from school. She wanted to be like one of those women, at the Timber Lane Hopkins Eatery. They played tennis when the kids were at school and complained about bad caterers over lunch. They had the strained faces of women who didn't dare gain an ounce, for fear of being replaced. Kerry wished she could just be a stay at home Mom. She was starting a new job next week and this was her last few days of freedom before the stress came back. The boys were pulling at each others back packs and laughing. They both had sticks in their hands and a sword fight could break out any second. She caught a reflection of herself smiling in the window. It felt good. Those boys were never a burden. They were the thing she did right. She couldn't wait to hear what happened that day. The rain had finally stopped and the first wisp of fall hung just outside the last grasp of summer. It was a good day.

He loaded his drums into his car after eating lunch. His youngest son was playing a jazz groove on the drums in his room. He marveled at how good he was. His oldest was on his way to his life guard job and looked every bit of the college freshman he had become. He said goodbye in passing and he watched young man drive off. He had done some things well. He did have moments of pride, in between all the anger and regret. It was in the air. All good things happened for him in the fall. When he lived by the coast it marked the start of the surf season. When he came to Tallahassee, it was the return of students and packed gigs. On bikes it was the magic time of cool temps and night rides with his crew. Spring was the first verse, summer was the dark bridge and September marked the first notes of the chorus. He was rehearsing tonight, feeling good for the first time in weeks and he stopped to recognize a rare moment of content. For now that was all he needed, little shot at something good.