One Two Handed to Another
Evening fell hard, cold and dark with no respite from the constant descent of snow outside the kitchen window next to which Sarge had taken up residence contentedly reading while Lily worked individually with several of the older children in Rosa’s care on the second floor. His presence in the book room even when totally engrossed in Eastward Ho had proven too much of a distraction for most of the children because he was still a mainly unknown entity. Their shyness had been conveyed to him via Lily’s repeated soft encouragings to them after just a few awkward silences. Despite enjoying stretching out full length on the floor rugs along the bookshelves while reading, he quietly moved into the kitchen of his own accord. As Lily’s kitchen was considerably more comfortable than his own stark counterpart in the freight district, Sarge had no complaints about putting himself out of sight and out of the attention of the children working on improving their English language and math skills throughout the afternoon. Occassionly he listened in on the lessons floating in from the red couch facing the windows and wondered about the origins of several of the children, but refrained from satisfying his curiosity during their sessions.
An extended space of quiet and silence gradually drew his attention enough for him to set aside the book of Jonson’s plays to take a look into the other room. Discovering it empty but the door to the room that served as a closet and storage space, open and muted sounds of rummaging coming from it, Sarge followed the noises. Standing in the hall watching Lily moving about clothing, boxes and storage bags evidently in search of some item, he spoke without warning, “Searching for hidden treasure?” At the unexpected sound of his voice, Lily whirled about in surprise sending several boxes falling to the floor. “Oops, didn’t realize you were so intent on your mission.”
Lily caught her breath and threw up her hands. “You know how you put something in a good, safe place so you won’t lose it and then you forget where you stashed it?”
“Yeah. More often than I care to admit actually. Is this something fresh eyes might spot or do you think it’s just not in any of the possible places?”
Scratching her head and looking around at the mess she’d made of the closet storage room, she said, “Well, it’s not in the outer hall closet under the stairs, so it’s got to be here somewhere. I’m thinking it’s rolled off under or between things.” She turned to him and held up her hands about two feet apart. “Round tube about this length and about four inches diameter. It’s black, which isn’t helping matters any in here, as you can see.”
Sarge scanned the room and saw nothing fitting that description. He also realized that considering how densely packed the room was with clothing and various storage containers, such a potentially mobile shape could indeed roll hither and yon easily. “We could start emptying the room and see if that helps searching.” He looked at Lily and she looked at him and then suddenly she was firing boxes at him from the middle of the room so fast he could hardly drop one in the hall in time to catch the next. He took note that she was evidently very ambidextrous and willing to make the most of it. About a fourth of the room’s contents had found their way out of the room and Lily had worked up to such a speed that she actually threw the item sought to Sarge before realizing she’d done so. When he caught it one-handed and blocked the following box instead of catching it, only then did she catch sight of the black tube in his left hand.
Unable to resist a sudden notion to cut and run, Sarge waved the tube at her then moved out of her reach and into the main room for a few dashes around the red couch and table. His sense of humor put an end to the chase when Lily took to the couch then the table in an effort to cut him off. Seeing her poised on the table amidst the piles of books, he stopped in his tracks and tossed her the tube before doubling over in breathless laughing.
Lily jumped down to the floor and tapped him on the head with the tube. “Sweet grabs, Sarge. You play catcher for your school baseball team? Hmm? Just having you stand behind home plate would have done a mind job on the other team coming up to bat. Never mind trying to steal their way home.” Seeing him shake his head in reply as he straightened up, she undid the top of the tube. “That’s a shame. What did you play? Football?”
“Ahh, no such luck.” Not wanting to encourage discussion of himself in this area Sarge took a book from the table and tossed it towards her. She caught it easily in her free left hand. “You’ve got some sweet two-handed action going there, Lily.”
She laughed and threw the book back at him. Sarge caught it with his right hand and smiled. “As do you, Sarge. Ambi meets ambi, hmm. What are the odds? Come on, what’s your game?”
Wanting to get her off this line of inquiry, Sarge nodded at the tube. “What’s in it?”
His question put a halt to Lily’s fingers working the contents out of the tube. Laying her palm against the opening, she grinned. “Solid trade time, Sarge. Want to see what’s in the tubey. First you pay the info toll.”
“Well, if that’s the way you’re gonna be about it. Shoot. What do you want to know?”
Lily stepped backwards a few feet and made a point of very slowly looking him over. “No baseball. No bone-banging football. So what sport did you play? Hmm? I can’t see any high school coach catching sight of you wandering the halls and not finding a hole to fill with you somehow, someway, Sarge.“
He looked at her and shook his head. “High school sports? Huh? Are you serious, Lily?”
She nodded vigorously. “If I have learned one thing about the males of the species in this culture, it’s that they all have some sport they either love or love to hate because of time spent in their high school or college years doing it or wanting to do it but failing to make the team. It’s a very telling thing about a guy. So, I figure it’s a good piece of solid info to get hold of.“ She twirled the black tube enticingly.
“I have to admit you’ve got a valid point.” Sarge looked down at the backs of his hands then at Lily. “You sure you want to know my sport of choice? What I really excel at like none other? Really sure, Lily?”
“Yes, Sarge. Lily really really wants to know.”
Sarge pushed his hair off his face with both hands while making direct eye contact with her. “Okay.” He rubbed the side of his nose then extended his hands out for her perusal. “Those aren’t scars from manual labor. Can you guess what sport those come from? Hmm?”
Lily eyed the marks on his hands and fingers, then looked at him. “Wrestling?”
Sarge let out a loud laugh. “Not bad, Lily. Not a bad guess at all. Actually that’s pretty damn close in some ways.“ He dropped his hands to his sides. “If there was a high school sport for bare knuckle brawling I’d be the top dog hands down in any high school or college division in at least the tri-state area. Yeah, I’m that good—or that bad–at it; depending on your perspective regarding such physical exploits.” He waited while she absorbed this information.
She surprised him by suddenly taking hold of his right hand and running her thumb over the scars on his knuckles. “Guess we’d better keep you away from the bears. Just in case you decide you need a real challenge.” She let go of his hand and went to work extracting the tube’s contents. Pulling out a thick rolled piece of paper, she dropped the tube to the floor. After pushing the books out of her way she spread out a topographical map on the table. “This is a map of most of my home people’s territory range. Almost all those good smelling things in the wooden box come from a place on this map or somewhere close by.”
Sarge moved up close to the table to look down at the map she held out flat between her hands at each end. “I’ll be damned. Most everything in your box comes from Alaska. Now that’s very cool, Lily. Very cool indeed.” He laid a hand on the bottom edge trying to recurl itself. “Great map too. What’s mileage per inch?”
Cocking her head to one side in order to see his expression, she said, “One hundred miles.”
He whistled softly. “That’s a lot of land to call home.”
“Hmm. I guess it is.” Lily looked out the windows where the lamp light inside shone on the snow outside highlighting the contrast between it and the dark sky. “What do you think, should I put it up on that wall by the door? Hmm?”
Sarge looked to the empty wall space she was referring to. “Most definitely.” Then he looked at her. “Unless it’s going to set off boom booms! in Lily’s mind fields.”
She shrugged. “Only one way to find out.” With some tape and push pins they had the map staked to the wall in a few minutes.
“Looks good there with the light playing with the lines. Like a piece of modern art in its own way.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Lily smiled as her home people vibes began humming happily.
Breakfast Special #20 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/breakfast-specail-20-identity-crisis/