Who sees a fire in their neighbor’s yard and walks off without doing anything? A young white dude who flips houses for a living, that’s who. Who does something? Hint: It was not a white dude.
March 1, 2017 at 8:55 pm (creative writing, culture, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, issues, life, living, politics, random, relationships, Uncategorized, urban life, Writing)
Tags: communication, cooperation, dumb shit people do, fires, Issues, Mexican Americans, people, race relations, real events, relationships, urban living, White Dudes, Writing
February 26, 2015 at 7:20 pm (creative writing, entertainment, humor, life, living, people, random, relationships, thinking, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: blogging, children, greetings, guilt, homes, humor, moving, partners, people, random, random thoughts, relationships, resolutions, thinking, Writing
In case you haven’t guessed by now, my new year’s resolution #2 was to get back online and blog. Now don’t get all pissy because it’s #2 instead of #1. Numero uno was checking email for the first time in MONTHS. Yeah, now that I’ve found out all about who’s been naughty and nice, read Christmas Letters to Satan, had a few laughs thanks to Bear and Berit, discovered my offspring INTENDS to put in an appearance on the new home front in a matter of weeks–goddamn it, she’s been gone for YEARS, what’s this prodigal daughter bullshit? Huh? I’m kidding. Okay not so much. Yeah, just kidding. Or not.
Anyway, long overdue greetings to anyone out there who’s paying one whit of attention to what’s NOT been going on in my blogcasa.
Am I supposed to feel guilty about this neglect?
Well, I do.
But–if you all knew what I know–you’d be grateful for the resounding silence here. Oh yeah.
I’ve been debating on what this first post of 2015 should be about for a couple of weeks: the holidays, films, books, horrible current events, –are there ever any wonderful events? I think not. –Sarge and Lily updates (yeah their story is ongoing), random thoughts about old dark British crime dramas such as Wire In the Blood and Touching Evil and what they reveal about the people who write the scripts, etc. . . .
Obviously NONE of the above has been taking up any wall space here. Nope.
I have decided to share one tiny suggestion for anyone considering making a long-term commitment to a significant other of any variety. Yep. There may be fallout from this, but– that’s okay. Feel free to prove me wrong about this notion.
Forget pre-commitment counseling. Forget talking through all your hopes and dreams for a shared future. Don’t bother getting all your duckies in a row. If you really want to know what you’re in for with each other — MOVE.
You read that right–MOVE. As in take all your material shit from one place and put it in another-and see what happens. See who does what–and how they do it. Listen to what’s being said. Who decides what goes where and why. Have you got a leg dragger as a partner in moving crimes? A non-stop whiner? A get the job done no matter what mind working full steam ahead? Is your “other” taking time out for all the other things that need doing–like watching every episode of something called “Haven” nonstop? Who is willing to make midnight runs to empty huge trash bins because there’s NO way the trash truck can haul ALL the bags away at one time? –This requires a certain sense of humor and willingness to fight the wind blowing it all back at you again and again and again. Are you ready to BANISH your partner from the moving site because all they keep saying is: “We’re never going to get this done. Never in a million years.” Frankly, who needs to hear that while getting it done? Hmm? Can you imagine someone saying that while a baby is being born? Better not to go there, right?
Seriously–if you want to get to know someone conduct a major move of worldly goods with them. I think some enterprising spirit could make a mint setting up a couple of abodes for people to ‘practice move’ in and out of in order to find out who their partner really is when it comes down to the nitty-gritty that’s involved in moving. Obviously hiring OTHER people to do the work defeats the purpose–unless your partner does this and leaves you to direct the hired help. That would tell you something important right there, wouldn’t it?
Reusable grocery bags–check.
Full tank of gas–check.
Yeah, I missed you too. Oh come on, why would I lie about it? Huh?
March 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm (culture, education, environment, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, films, history, Independent film, Indigenous People, issues, journalism, life, living, movies, music, Native Americans, nature, people, photography, politics, random, relationships, religion, searching, thinking, Uncategorized)
Tags: activism, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Dine, documentary, environment, exploring interconnectedness, films, Flagstaff, genocide, health, Issues, journalism, justice, Klee Benally, media, music, nature, Navajo, news, Outta Your Backpack Media, Peabody Mine, Peaks, protest, raising awareness, relationships, religious freedom, reporting, sacred places, sewage, snow, song, Song of the Son, teaching, The Return of Navajo Boy, uranium mining, Without Water & Weather Changes, youth
Yes, it’s Monday. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. It’s national beer drinking day for a lot of folks.
But it’s also another day in the ongoing fight against uranium mining and its consequences everywhere from the past to the present.
On March 14, 2014 independent journalist Amy Goodman reported from Flagstaff, Arizona about the ongoing environmental and health issues connected with uranium mining and its long-term consequences for the Dine ~ Navajo people. The main portion of her video report is posted here but there is a great deal more information and related coverage on Democracy Now!’s site. Part of the Democracy Now! broadcast discussed the use of music and film by to raise awareness and share information regarding issues. To supplement DN!’s coverage I’ve included two videos featuring Klee Benally’s music and an informative video about Outta Your Backpack Media which teaches Indigenous people how to make and use movies to address the need for media justice and coverage in their communities. There’s a trailer for the film The Return of Navajo Boy which is referenced in the news piece. The film’s website –> http://navajoboy.com/. Democracy Now!’s page for the story also includes links to information and related stories.
Without Water & Weather Changes ~ Klee Benally
“A Slow Genocide of the People” Uranium Mining Leaves Toxic Nuclear Legacy On Indigenous Land
Democracy Now! A Daily Independent News Hour — http://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/14/a_slow_genocide_of_the_people
Outta Your Backpack
The Return of Navajo Boy Trailer
This is a trailer for the award-winning documentary film, “The Return of Navajo Boy.” See its official website for more information:http://www.navajoboy.com
Also see Groundswell Educational Films website:
Song of the Sun ~ Klee Benally
What part of sacred don’t you understand?
March 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm (books, culture, education, entertainment, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, issues, life, people, publishing, quests, random, relationships, Writing)
Tags: book review, books, boys, children, Constantine, contemporary fiction, fiction, girls, Grayson Barrett, Issues, love story, novel, relationships, review, Robin Constantine, romance, teenagers, The Promise of Amazing, Ward Cleaver, Wren Caswell, Writing, young adult, young adult novel
Ah spring is pushing up jonquils and young love is in the air. If images of fresh face youths courting fair-haired maids with handfuls of flowers comes to mind when you think of young love, well, Constantine’s young adult novel, The Promise of Amazing, will disabuse you of such daydreams. Contemporary teenage romance has little to do with June and Ward Cleaver scenarios despite some sharing of milk and Oreo cookies. Welcome to the world of boy and girl prep schools for the children of lawyers, catering business owners and real estate agents. These people don’t worry about having enough food or clothing for their families. Their concerns are with social status and money-making in the realm of suits and ties. Their teenage children are highly aware of clothing labels, drinking, drugs, and sex. This is the world of who might become who — or not. Enter quiet good girl Wren Caswell whose relationship self-confidence quotient has had a hard knock from what she refers to as a “hump and dump” with a young lad with no interest in anything more than sex before he heads off to college campus and the rest of his life–without looking backwards. It doesn’t help her college dreams any when the guidance counselor unwittingly makes callous remarks about who is and isn’t Harvard material. From stage left-wing comes talented bad boy Grayson Barrett who has been forced to face the music of academic misconduct for selling papers to other students–oddly enough none of the buyers seem to have suffered any consequences for creating a demand for Grayson’s product. These boys are working out their future manners of behavior for being successful in a corrupt mainstream world which rewards doing whatever you do to be successful as long as you don’t get caught. The lads of St. Gabe’s have more than plagiarism on their questionable efforts plates. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart’s lasses are mistresses of manipulation and serious verbal aggression. Some of their hearts and minds are very short on sugar and very high on arsenic. Wren and Grayson are not exactly Juliet and Romeo material—or are they? There is serious potential for tragedy if some life lines don’t get straightened out with some positive choices. In today’s American mainstream culture they’re the kids with all kinds of opportunities — yet, they’ve got some very steep learning curves regarding relationships, peer pressure, family issues, values and sexuality which all children, and adults, encounter.
Robin Constantine delivers a touching young love story set in what is now the normal context, with variations on degrees depending on location, that teenagers move through today. It’s a landscape rift with absent parents, underage drinking, rebellion, drug use, and sexual explorations often without any emotional attachments. Emotions are problematic for teenagers and the young people in The Promise of Amazing have emotional issues in spades. There are a lot dysfunctional families across the spectrum of social economic class lines. Yes, there is a very serious class structure in America based on economics–the idea of a society where everyone is equal is an ideal, not a reality. This isn’t a The Catcher in the Rye world–this is post Salinger–the phoniness of the deluded game playing adult world is almost a cliché today. The children mimic it to no small end. With friends like his, it’s a wonder Grayson and his social peers are all not headed straight to jail before graduating from high school. Yet, Constantine manages to avoid falling into a cynical narrative of all things troubling teens. Wren’s practical step right up and deal with the problem nature sets things in motion when she meets Grayson by saving him from choking to death while everyone else stands around watching the show at her family’s catering hall– called Camelot. Of course, one thing leads to another as Constantine develops the plot via chapters alternating Wren’s and Grayson’s perspective. This is one of the things I enjoyed most about this young adult novel–the effort to present the perspectives of both sexes to tell their story. What goes through the minds of teenage boys and girls isn’t exactly the same–but they’ve got a lot more common ground regarding issues than they often realize when they’re struggling to communicate with each other even though texting seems to make it all so simple.
I watched her disappear up the block, her plaid skirt swaying. When she was out of sight, I landed with a thud and walked back to the reality of the ER. I pulled Wren’s scarf up to my nose, inhaling her scent and getting dizzy all over again. I was happy to have my face covered–no one walks into the hospital with a grin that wide unless he’s heading to the psych ward. But I couldn’t help it.
She kissed me.
The Promise of Amazing is a an easy read writing-wise, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s about easy things. It’s not. It offers a certain very dark slant on contemporary teenage world. This novel portrays a young couple’s efforts at dealing with family, friends and love relationships without any magic or supernatural elements to distract from real life issues. Constantine manages to make us care what happens to Grayson and Wren as individuals and as a couple with some definite potential for being a lot more than a “hump and dump” round. They both need and want more than that even though their hormones are certainly giving them a workout–complete with condoms. It’s the promise of sharing a genuinely caring relationship that gets these two together. What’s unsettling is just how hard that is to find despite all the musical hype about it. In a world of broken homes, second and third families, amoral role models and shallow values, experiencing and sharing some real love is no easy deal.
What’s the teen in your world reading?
Robin Constantine’s site –>> http://robinconstantine.com/ http://robinconstantine.com/books.html
March 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm (books, creative writing, culture, drama, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, humor, issues, life, living, music, people, play, random, relationships, Writing)
Tags: #40, All My Funky Friends, All That Funky, Breakfast Special, Dawn Silva, entertainment, fiction, friends, Issues, Lily, Little George, love story, men, music, novel, random, relationships, romance, Sarge, women, work in progress, Writing
All That Funky
Little George nudged Anton with his elbow to alert him to Sarge’s appearance in the hallway leading to the building’s utility room. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t Mr. Tardy Hardy himself.” Little George teased Sarge as he came to a halt in the doorway and stood looking around the room.
“How are you, Little George? Anton, sorry to hold up the wiring show today.” Sarge entered the room and went to where he’d found the jerry-rigged wiring mess on a previous visit.
Anton smirked as he replaced the water hose for the washing machine. “No problem, Sarge. No lack here for crew work. You get that chill out of your bones from playing in the Ling’s basement lake yesterday?”
Sarge pulled out the section of plywood serving as a temporary covering for the wiring, set it aside and turned to Anton and Little George. “My feet are a damn sight happier than they were yesterday. Lily gave me something she calls ‘bear grease’ to put on them. She said it’ll help keep the damp cold from setting in. I don’t know what it really is, but it’s definitely agreeing with my feet. Oh hey, I brought some cookies.” Sarge took a brown paper lunch bag out of his coat pocket and handed it to Little George.
“Lily has bear grease?” Little George opened the bag and took out a coconut cookie and offered the bag to Anton who did not hesitate to help himself.
Sarge shrugged. “That’s what she called this stuff. You want some for your feet, Little George?”
Little George took a bite of his cookie and shook his head. “Not right now. Thanks Sarge. Good cookies. If I didn’t know better I’d say they came direct from Mrs. Ling.”
“In a way they did, seeing as Lily and I made them from Mrs. Ling’s recipe. Go ahead, eat those. We can make all we want now.” Sarge grinned and went to another part of the electricity repair project down the hall leaving Anton and Little George standing with the bag of cookies between them.
Little George moved to look down the hallway as Sarge went up the stairs to the room on the floor above them. He looked at Anton. “How did he get that recipe from Mrs. Ling?”
“How you think? He fixed that water mess in her basement. How else?” said Anton.
Little George shook his head. “We all fixed some mess in that basement at some point in the last year. Mrs. Ling didn’t turn over no coconut cookies to any of us. You don’t think he . . ..” Little George shrugged suggestively instead of speaking.
Anton stared at Little George unnerved by the fact that he was even going so far as to suggest what he was. “No. You lost your mind or what, Little George? How you even get that idea in your head-gear?”
Little George held up a cookie. “This recipe intel is not something a woman gives up for nothing, Anton.”
“Sarge working a blown fuse-box plus a flood by himself is not nothing. And you know it. Loretta been giving you some strange ideas again, Little George?”
Little George carefully set the bag of cookies out of harm’s way on top of the washing machine and resumed his caulking task. “Anton, you have no idea what it’s like living with Loretta. It’s a package deal with her sisters. They are always together at one of their places or another. You know, you’ve seen them all at my place.”
“Uh ha. What’s that got to do with your weird Mrs. Ling and Sarge cookie action idea?”
Little George laughed. “Anton, you do understand that if Sarge took it into his head to start giving the time of day to women besides Lily, there’d be a whole lot more crazy shit going on with the women and men folk in the neighborhood, don’t you? You got to know that, DeWitt, considering all the work you been doing during this snow-in trying to keep people leveled out.”
“Sarge got no such agenda, Little George.” Anton considered the truth of Little George’s notion and silently thanked Sarge for not being inclined to play the lady field as he easily could.
“Not saying he does, Anton. Big Man ain’t the problem. It’s the women who are the problem. You got it nice and quiet all settled with Esther who is about as sane a woman as they come. She don’t go in for the sort of talk I hear coming from Loretta and her sisters. Last night something set them off but good. It got so I couldn’t stand to hear no more. I went over to Stinky Pete’s for a couple hours to get relief.”
“I read that. You got a point, Little George. You went to Pete’s for relief? Anton don’t think he wants to hear what sent you there.”
“You don’t. I don’t want to repeat any of it. I don’t want Lily getting wind of any of it either. She gets enough grief for her learning curves already. She doesn’t need any more from my women folk. I don’t know exactly what it is about Sarge that gets them all worked up, but they do get worked up. We all know he don’t do nothing to get them going. They get going all on their own. Maybe it’s one of those fairmoan things. I don’t know for sure. But I do know being around that sort of woman talk about men gets under your skin. You know what I mean. That’s where that Ling and cookie and action idea come from. I know that’s a dumbass thing to think. Sarge ain’t ever been anything but genuine nice and polite to women folk, and us too for that matter. It’s just . . well, I got two ears full of Loretta and sisters company man-talk that put a bunch of us working our jaws about a Playboy centerfold to shame. If you don’t believe it, come on over for a chat sometime when Loretta holding court at our place.” Little George looked over the handsome man working with him. “Now that I mention it, that sounds like a damn good idea. Yes it does. You being right there in the flesh get their minds off Sarge and on you instead.”
“What? Like you goin’ to enjoy that somehow?” Anton stopped working and stared at the big man beside him. “That about as bad as what started this conversation track.”
“Look at you.” Little George grinned. “All puffed up and in-dig-nant about being a diversionary tactic. DeWitt, I’ve been giving you some shit for fun. Chill out.”
“You been messing with me this whole time?”
“Only since the part about you coming over while Loretta having the after supper chat-fest. We both know no way Esther allow that game plan see any action.” He laughed loudly at the bewildered disbelief on Anton’s face. “What’s wrong? You don’t care for that little payback prank?” Whistling happily, Little George ignored the other man and focused on his task. Without looking at Anton he said, “This suggestion box is willing to entertain other candidates worthy of ar-dent feminine attention.”
“Are you crazy? Everyone knows how funky things are with you and Loretta. No man want that action with her sisters. No way.”
Little George kept his eyes on his work. “Funky it may be. But all that funky has an upside. You don’t think I put up with all that nonsense for nothing, do you, Anton? Hmm?” He took a cookie from the bag, put the whole thing in his mouth and made a face.
January 17, 2014 at 10:10 pm (books, creative writing, environment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, literary fiction, nature, photography, random, relationships, Writing)
Tags: #38, Book, Breakfast Special, creative, Damien Gillis, environment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, Great Bear Rainforest, Lily, love story, nature, novel, Orca Book Publishers, photography, relationships, romance, Sarge, Sleep Cycling, videos, work in progress, Writing, young readers
Lily knew it was Anton at the door by his knock. Setting aside her cookie and book, she quickly made her way to the door before he laid another set of quick, sharp knuckle raps on it. Anton greeted her with the disarmingly open smile he reserved for close friends as Lily opened the door and waved him inside.
“Hey, Lily.” Standing on the entrance rug, Anton glanced around the bookroom looking for Sarge. “Sorry, running late. Sarge already head up Percy Two’s way?” He stared at Lily in surprise when she shook her head, then held a finger to her lips signaling for quiet. She pointed at his boots and gestured towards the kitchen. Anton whispered, “Everything okay here, Lily?” After she nodded and gave a tired small smile in reply, Anton complied with her request to remove his boots and followed her into the kitchen. There he took in the still three-quarters full pot of coffee on the stove, the teapot covered with the warming cover, pots and pans at the ready waiting on the stove, Lily’s near empty cup of coffee, a large book of forest photographs open at her place, the clean plate and empty cup at the other side of the table and the platter of coconut cookies in the center.
Anton eyed the familiar looking and smelling coconut cookies with extreme curiosity as he sat down in the chair between the used and unused table settings. Lily poured him a cup of coffee in silence and pushed the platter of cookies towards him before retaking her seat. Anton hesitated, glanced over his shoulder at the doorway to the bookroom and the entrance door at the far end of it. Reassuring himself that he had indeed seen Sarge’s heavy work-boots on the mat, he gave Lily a careful looking over.
Her voice soft and low, Lily pushed the cookies closer to him. “Go on, eat as many as you can. We both know you want to, Anton.”
Matching her quiet tone, Anton said, “Ahha, yeah, about these cookies,” he gestured at the platter, “they be what I think they be?”
“Depends on what you think they ‘be.” Lily sipped her coffee and popped the remaining portion of a half eaten cookie into her mouth. “Only way you’ll know for sure is if you eat one.”
Anton took one and ate it whole. Keeping his eyes on Lily, he washed it down with the coffee. “Yeah, they be what I think they be. How’d you get a whole load of them?”
Lily opened the recipe box and flicked her fingertips at the piece of paper stuck in the front ready for use in the immediate future. “Made them, that’s how.” She grinned when he stared at the recipe in disbelief.
“Ahh ha, Anton getting a picture book story right quick.” Anton took another cookie and sniffed it. “Hmm, yeah,” He looked over his shoulder again in the direction of Sarge’s boots on mat and then at Lily’s not entirely well rested face and form. “Lily looking like she need few more zs. Truth be, lot more than a few, my friend.” He ate the cookie while waiting for a reply. When Lily shrugged and gave her coffee cup her full attention instead of responding, he reached out and gently touched her shoulder to get her to make eye contact. “Not lookin’ like Sarge made tracks for a bus.” He nodded at the stove. “Not lookin’ like you woke up mad either.” He paused to give her a chance to speak, when she didn’t he continued voicing his thoughts. He eyed the cookies again without any intention of taking another one. He waved his fingers at the platter. “Those little Ling sweets set some other sort of sweet thing in motion, Lily? That why you lookin’ like it wouldn’t hurt you none for some major z hibernating? Hmm? You and Sarge finally sort out a thing or two in a certain personal area you been keeping damn quiet about?”
Lily leaned back in her chair and returned Anton’s direct gaze. “Yes, we sorted out some things. Took us most of the night to do it, but we managed to get it done right. I woke up at my usual time. Sarge, he’s still in deep sleep mode. He won’t get to Percy Two’s place for doing that electrical work until this afternoon. Sorry if that messes with the repair crew schedule, but I’m not waking him up and I’m not letting you or anyone else wake him up either. He’s not getting up until he’s had all the sleep he needs. He’ll wake up when he’s good and ready. You and the rest of the repair crew will just have to deal with that fact today, and every day hereafter. Do you read me, Anton?”
“I read you, Lily. Anton get it, Big Man been puttin’ in a hell of a lot of time and hard labor. Man needs a time out. That’s cool. No problem. Crew major respect all he do.”
Lily shook her head. “Sarge doesn’t need just a time-out, Anton. If he’s going to continue fixing things here in the Flats he needs to ease up some. It’s not that he doesn’t want to do things, don’t take it that way. He does. He likes fixing things for people. You know he does. Problem is that he’s been using all this repair work to keep his mind too busy to deal properly with a few private things that require his attention. Those things do not include me. Oh I see you’re ready to jump on that statement of fact. Let me save you some breath. What that means is that I am not on the list of things he needs to deal with and get past. As far as he and I are concerned, we’re going to take our time and do things our own way and take it from there. I don’t want to hear another word about what we ought to be doing or not doing according to what people usually do in your culture regarding their personal relationships.”
Anton made a zipper motion across his lips. “Should I share this intel with Esther?”
“No, I’ll make it clear to her myself. I know she means well. That’s not an issue. It’s just,” . . .. Lily stopped talking and stared out the kitchen window while considering her words. Knowing Anton knew her well enough that he wouldn’t take it as an evasive tactic she took her time. When she made eye contact again with the man patiently waiting and drinking his coffee, she sighed. “Esther thinks she knows how I should handle things with Sarge. I know what she thinks because she’s had no problem telling me. But Anton, you know from listening to your bones that sometimes what seems like the right thing to do based on logic is anything but right.”
“You saying you’re going all the way with your home people vibes regarding Big Man. Anton reading Lily right?”
Lily nodded. “Yes, Anton, I am. As Sarge put it last night, he laid a lot of cards out on the table because he didn’t want me to get blindsided by some things in his private life. Or what he thought was his private life. The more I think about what he told me, I’m not so sure it’s been very private at all. I know he’s talked about some of it with you. I don’t know what your bones have been saying. But mine have been in a bit of a tizzy, as Priest used to say, about those things and something he’s not seeing yet. Some thing Sarge doesn’t know anything about. My vibes can’t make sense of it right now. Whatever that is, I do not intend to leave him to deal with it alone no matter how things turn out between us as a couple.”
“As a couple?” Anton set down the cup he’d been holding with both hands. “You both reading the same ink on that page, Lily? You and Sarge got that couple business all clear? You know why I’m putting the question back to you.”
“Yes.” Lily lifted her chin. “We agreed to continue living together between here and his place in the freight district.” Seeing Anton’s eyes open wide with stunned surprise, she pushed on. “I told Sarge straight up that I don’t want him to leave and he told me straight up that he doesn’t want to leave. We get along with each other. Which is more than a lot of people you and I both know can say about their private relationships. Sarge and I have decided to take a shot at being a couple on our own terms. I’m saying that even after he laid a lot of his cards on the table and I put down some of my own. I didn’t put all down of mine at the same time because I didn’t want to get us off track about what was actually significant to the matters at hand. Some things can wait. At least until we’ve both had some more sleep. We’re both clear about each other’s past relationship problems and that’s what matters right now.”
Attempting to appear nonchalant about Lily’s matter-of- fact tone regarding her relationship problems, keeping in mind what he knew about Sarge’s problems, Anton slouched down in his chair and stretched out his legs. “Pardon me for asking, but did you or did you not lay down your card concerning what you did to Mark when you caught him on the stairs messing with Julianna?”
“I mentioned it. I didn’t go into all the details, but the gist of it got across.”
“The gist of it? Sarge knows it was you, not Ricardo, who broke the front door with Mark’s head, right?”
Lily scratched the side of her neck and frowned. “I think so. Well, maybe that detail needs to be clarified a little. What’s your point, Anton?”
Anton shrugged. “Nothing. Just making sure Big Man knows how you can get when you’re riled up. That’s all. Don’t want him getting blindsided by a violin case in the gut if some drunk groupie backs him up against a wall in a stairwell outside a bar where’s he’s taking a break from from work, like John was at a music gig.”
Lily glared at him through eyes narrowed to sharp slits and found the energy to richly infuse her reply with sarcasism. “Oh no, we wouldn’t want that to happen to John or anyone else ever again. Not even if that drunk groupie happens to be his not so ex ex-live in girlfriend and his pants are down around his ankles.”
“Touche as they say. You clinched that there with the pants detail. I don’t recall hearing that before.”
Lily pushed her hair behind her ears then mimicked Anton’s mocking gossipy tone. “Did you hear the detail about him being stoned big time as they say? Hmm? John tends to leave out that piece of serious drug relapse intel when entertaining people with the story of Lily sending him to emergency room hospital hell with a violin case.”
“Anton caught some details about that violin case beating something besides the usual shit out of John. That something covered not only his hospital tab, but bought some serious don’t ask, don’t tell from the right folks. But hey, who listens to idle chatter from hospital orderlies pissed off about the drug trade in their neighborhood and in their hospital, right?”
“I definitely clarified all the details regarding that problem relationship, Anton.”
“Including details about John’s not-so-ex ex-live-in girlfriend? That be good fishin’ bait for some intel about new to Lily ex-live-in Sarge girlfriends, hmm.” Anton took another cookie and passed it from hand to hand while maintaining eye contact with Lily.
“There aren’t any ex live-in Sarge girlfriends or any other sort of ex-girlfriend to be concerned about,” said Lily.
Anton gave a faint hearted guffaw. “Hmm. I can’t see Sarge laying down some significant cards while making a pitch for bona fide serious couple rank without some card dealing with some ex girlfriends in some sense of the term. I can’t see this man doing that, Lily. My bones can’t see him trying to slide this card under a seat cushion. So let’s have reality fact check here regarding your understanding of this particular ex-girlfriends card.”
“Yes, Anton, I am aware that Sarge has had sexual relations with a lot of women. I’m sure you’re aware that it takes more than a few rounds of sex to have a real relationship with someone. As far as real relationships go, in any sense of the meaning of that term, Sarge hasn’t had one that results in any variation of love-sick, angry ex-girlfriends doling out blow jobs in alleys behind bars to get a guy’s attention. There will be no such pitiful bitch appearing on Rosa’s porch at two in the morning wailing for Sarge to come out and fuck her blind in the street. Even if there was, Sarge is not the kind of man to give her exactly what she wants right there in the street, entertaining the gang guys going about their business as usual at two am. Yes, Anton, I knew what John did. I didn’t have to go out there and watch. I could smell it on him when he came back inside after sending her on her merry way as he put it.”
Lily was pleased with the taken aback expression on her friend’s face due to his learning of her awareness of an instance of John’s behavior which Anton had personally found especially offensive and which he’d made an intense effort to keep talk about from her ears. She mirrored his earlier action of taking a cookie while keeping eye contact. “That’s the kind of reality fact you wanted me to check, right?”
“You reality check that John fact dead on.” He took a breath. “Per current affairs, you care to clarify how you read Sarge in the other women line-up?”
Lily smirked then rubbed her tired eyes. “Do I care to? You’re being funny, Anton. To clarify my read further, well, I certainly have not had sex with as many men as he has had with women. But I bet I could catch up damn fast if I put up red lights on the porch instead of blue and put the word out that I’m open for business. Hmm. Do you think doing that would increase or decrease the odds of Sarge and I working out being a couple for the long haul?”
For only a very brief moment, did Anton consider raising the topic of the little grey book’s contents. “You got to be messing with Anton with that scenario. Such shit do no one any good.”
She laughed softly at his indignation and playfully kicked at his chair. “Relax, Anton. You know I wasn’t serious about that red light action play.”
“True. But I don’t like you even thinking up crazy shit like that, Lily. Gets my mind rolling along that maybe you done too much time in the Flats.” Anton paused while reviewing everything Lily had said so far. “There not much people action in the freight district where Sarge’s place be. When a man been living alone a long time, never know what that space that be like until you in it. Considering how Sarge deal with all things need fixing here, I bet money everything essential in good working order. That be a lot right there.” He looked around the kitchen and glanced into the bookroom. “Odds against it all comfy and cozy like your pad. But Anton thinking as long as Big Man’s place safe and solid, maybe Lily doing some time there be a good thing. Focus on couple action your way. No other people drama action distractions. No input there you don’t want. Peace and quiet be a big plus if you depending on your home people vibes to try to get couple two-way street working right for the long haul.”
“I think that’s a good idea, Anton. All the input from all quarters definitely has not helped me much with my other couple efforts.” Lily bit her bottom lip and briefly laid a hand on Anton’s. “But you always read the guys creed right for me, though. That definitely has helped me understand a lot of what went wrong. What kind of shit do you think will get tossed my way when word gets around that Big Man is not making a permanent exit from Lily’s life as soon as he can easily catch a bus or cab out of the Flats?”
“Shit not worth taking the time to state you ignoring. Lot of folks been in-house too long with snow lockdown. Lot of head spaces packed tight with crazy notions. No telling what might get said by whom. All you need pay mind to be your home people vibes and what you know direct be true. Screw all the gossip drama queens’ bullshit flowing. They get all lathered up, that their issue. Not yours.” Anton checked the bookroom again. “You sure Big Man is not going to wake up any time soon? I don’t want him hear us talk like this and get any wrong ideas that require the rest of the day and night clearing up.”
“I’m sure. Sarge won’t be up for hours unless the pipes start singing or the kids start jumping on the floor above the bed and wake him up. He’s down for about another three.”
“How you know that? You didn’t slip him something to send him to la la land, did you? Tell me you didn’t do that and mean it, Lily.” Anton put his hands together as if praying. “Please.”
“I didn’t do that. I mean it, Anton. You know I wouldn’t do something like that. You’ve been dealing with way too many crazy people doing crazy things lately. I know because I’ve been paying attention to how Sarge sleeps ever since his first night here. It scared me the first time he slept so much longer than I expected. I couldn’t hardly tell if he was actually breathing or not. I kept checking on him. Then I got in the habit of checking on him whenever he sleeps longer than I do. That’s how I figured out about how long he spends in each stage.” She pointed at the coffee pot. Anton stood up and refilled her cup as she continued speaking. “We went to bed a little after four this morning. I can’t help but wake up by eight am even though I need a few more hours sleep. I’ll catch them later. You’re the same way. But Sarge, he doesn’t have a regular internal alarm clock like you and I do. If he does, it’s not working. He’s got to work his way down to hit that deep sleep cycle and hang there for a few hours before he even starts working his way to the waking surface. It’s just a little after nine now, so he’s still in deep sleep mode, which I confirmed a few minutes before you showed up. I can tell what stage he’s in by his breathing and heart-beat. If he gets to sleep and wake up all on his own, he’s ready for anything all day long and most of the night too. If he doesn’t, then he’ll push through being still tired and he’ll do everything that needs doing. But he’s out of sorts physically and fairly miserable even though he doesn’t whine or complain about it like some people we could name but won’t. ”
Listening carefully not just to Lily’s words, but also to her tone and paying attention to her body language, Anton decided to share absolutely none of this intel with Esther. Everything he was hearing and observing right now told him there’d been a whole lot more going on with Lily in regard to Sarge than Esther, Rosa, himself, possibly even Sarge, had a clue about. It fairly boggled his mind that she’d been monitoring the man’s sleep as carefully she was telling him she had. “Ahhha, and, um, have you shared all this sleep cycle intel with Sarge? Is he aware of how very aware you are of his sleep needs and habits?”
Lily took in the questions and frowned. “Sarge knows I check on him. I told him when I first started. It hadn’t occurred to me to discuss the rest in detail with him. After all, he can’t check on himself, can he? It just seemed useful to me to figure out so I know he is okay even when it seems like he’s barely breathing at all. I’m not joking, Anton. He’s so still and quiet when he sleeps it’s like he’s in a coma. He hardly moves. If I fall asleep after he does and wake up before him, I swear he’s in the exact same position as he was when I fell asleep. I’m not sure that’s normal. Do you think it would help anything if I told him what I’ve noticed?”
“Honest, I have no idea about that at all, Lily. Doc Tran might have a clue, but Anton definitely has nothing in his thought box about that sleep action. That something vary from one body to another. Might mean something, might mean nothing except that when Sarge down for the z count, he down hard.”
Lily relaxed and pulled her feet up onto the seat of her chair. Resting her chin on her knees she looked at the cookies then at Anton. “You really think I ought to tell him how I, um, pounded Mark’s head into the front door?”
Anton nodded. “I do. Main thing be Big Man knows exactly why. Plus, it don’t hurt none him knowing you can, and will, do a lot more than defend yourself in case a situation ever arises.”
“A situation? Very funny, Anton. Do you seriously think Sarge would create a situation which would provoke me to do some pounding on him? Hmm? Be honest, do you really think he deliberately would?”
Anton shook his head. “Truth be, Anton seriously doubt Big Man ever give Lily a reason to serve him some hurt.” He waited while Lily considered his reply. “Could be other situations arise though. Man never know when some time he get caught off his game or have to step it up real quick. That happen, help a mind knowing . . ,” Anton picked and discarded several phrasings before continuing with, “knowing he got reliable support standing right there with him. Back to back, shoulder to shoulder support that won’t cut and run. That mean a lot to any man. Anton think it probably mean a damn lot more to Sarge.”
Lily contemplated this in regard to some of the things Sarge had shared with her. “I think you’re right.” She nodded thoughtfully at her friend. “Okay, I’ll clarify and elaborate on the Mark situation. Just so, like you said, so Sarge knows that about me. And, in case, not that I think he ever would give me a reason, because I don’t think that at all, but just in case something ever comes up, he’ll know better than to try to bullshit me about it. Yeah, that’s like preventive medicine, right?”
“Could be. But like said before, don’t think Sarge ever give Lily just cause for punishment. Don’t think he got that streak in him, Lily. Not saying that cause he and me got decent rapport flowing. I mean it.”
“I know you do, Anton. I don’t think Sarge has it in him either.” She glanced out the window for a moment then look back at Anton. “I trust him. My vibes trust him. He’s a good man.”
“You read that right. No argument. Fact be, it sound damn good to hear you talk positive like that about him. ”
Lily sighed. “Anton, does it sound like I’m in love with him?”
“Sounding like you definitely in something with him for sure, Lily. Know you got some different notions about the whole love scene, therefore Anton hesitant to confirm or deny what’s what. But you said you don’t want Sarge to make an exit and you were straight up with him about that. Putting just that card on the table, well, I think you sure know why you don’t want him to leave. No surprise to Anton that Sarge don’t want to leave. Man been hoping you give him a chance all along.”
“Isn’t that what I’ve been doing? Otherwise I’d have sent him to sleep in the generator room or over to your place to get him out of my way from the start.”
Anton stared at Lily then shook his head to clear his mind and leaned towards her. “Wait. Hold on. Rewind things for Anton. Are you saying you been seriously checking this man out from the start for the whole time he’s been here? This ain’t been just about him getting stranded and you being nice and hospitality polite about him caught in snow lockdown in the Flats?”
“It’s not like I knew he’d get stranded here when I invited him in, but, I’d already decided to give Sarge a real chance even before he threw me in the taxi. Considering how he behaved after that, I guess you could say I was giving him a serious chance from then on. I gave him a little chance when he followed me up the street to ask for a date because of the book he was reading in the breakfast bar and how my vibes were humming.”
“Ahhhha. So Lily been givin’ Sarge chances all along then?” Anton rubbed his right temple with his fingertips while considering this new intel from his friend whom this conversation seemed to be wearing down physically.
“Mmm. You read that right, Anton.” Lily blinked sleepily at him.
Anton glanced at his wristwatch, at the book of nature photographs Lily had been looking through before his arrival then at the way she was owning her chair with her whole body. “Lily looking mighty tired right now. There any particular reason you ain’t catching more zs? You stayin’ up to check on Sarge’s breathing or you staying awake to keep from taking things to the next level with him? Anton wondering why damned tired Lily ain’t in her own bed sleeping.”
Lily laughed softly. “That’s funny, Anton. The way Sarge sleeps, there’s no way to take things to another level. Don’t you get it? He’s way deep under the down for the count. But you’re right that I am tired. I guess you could say I answered my alarm clock and woke up just long enough to be able to go back to sleep. That’s what I’m going to do.” She unfolded herself from her chair, stood up and stretched her arms overhead. “I may as well catch zs now while Sarge is heating up the bed instead of when he’s not.” She waved at the cookies, the coffeepot and the fridge. “Help yourself. You’re a cook. Make yourself something to eat if you’re hungry. You don’t need me for that.” She put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle squeeze before walking past him and out of the kitchen on slightly unsteady feet.
Leaving Anton in the kitchen, Lily made her way back to her bedroom feeling sleep settling into her muscles with just the thought of the warm bed. She’d forgotten all about Anton by the time she walked along the edge of the bed, tugged lightly on Sarge’s toes as she moved past them, she knew full well it wouldn’t wake him, pulled off her thermals and got under the down quilt where the cotton flannel sheets were as warm as she’d expected. Snuggling under the quilt she lay on her side looking at Sarge’s profile in the faint dim light pushing through the small curtained bedroom window. Laying on his back with his head slightly tilted in her direction, the quilt covering him hid the rise and fall of his chest as he slept. She amused herself by reaching over and lightly tugging a lock of hair away from his face and watching it fairly spring right back into place when she released it from her fingers. She giggled a little and repeated the action with another unruly wave. “Your hair behaves like one of those metal ring toys, Funny Man.” She sniffed the air warmed by his body heat and scented with several sachets in the pillow cases and under the quilt. “Hmmm, smells like a warm day in the woods. Night, Sarge.” Remembering a summer day spent gathering plants in a forest with her mother and Gran, Lily caught up to Sarge in her own deep sleep cycle within moments of closing her eyes.
Sarge awoke several hours later just as Lily had told Anton he would. Having no idea of the time and not caring and enjoying not caring about the time, he started to stretch out his arms as usual and discovered Lily sound asleep next to him. Her long black hair spilling out from under the quilt drawn up over her ears hid everything but her eyebrows from view. A random clanking from the radiator caused him to cringe at the harsh sound as he turned onto his side to face Lily’s sleeping figure. Watching her sleep, he laid his fingertips on the nearest edge of a black swirl of her sleek hair and whispered, “Hey, Lily there are coconut cookies waiting for breakfast.” When she didn’t stir, he smiled and pulled the quilt edge up under his eyes. He took a deep breath of the warm air trapped underneath the down. “Smells like trees under here, Lily. Yeah, it does. Let’s go for a walk in the woods.” Closing his eyes, he lay quietly imagining wandering with Lily among the tall trees he’d seen in one of her books.
Only one place on Earth is home to ancient cedars, towering spruce, cougars, wolves, grizzlies, salmon, and the iconic Kermode, or White Spirit Bear, which gives its name to the region. At 6.4 million hectares, the Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. For thousands of years First Nations on Canada’s west coast have sourced life, culture and heritage from this environment. Today, the Great Bear Rainforest is such a global rarity that it has inspired unconventional partnerships, visionary leadership, and a radical change in the way we manage our resources.
January 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm (books, contemplation, creative writing, culture, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, living, music, people, random, relationships, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: #37, black and white film, Book, Breakfast Special, Coming Clean, entertainment, Eric Legnini, fiction, Lily, love story, music, novel, reading, relationships, romance, Sarge, snow, Snow Falls, video, work in progress, Writing
Inhaling the earthy scents in the shower, Sarge watched the water play over his fight scarred hands. He thought about how he and Lily might create a warmer, more inviting living space on the second floor of Kozy’s warehouse, a space in which Lily would feel as welcome and comfortable in as he felt here in her apartment, a space comfortable enough to study in when it suited her, a space where she would feel comfortable enough to consider spending the night. Sarge shook his head under the shower with his last thought then stepped back and pushed his hair off his face. Consider? Just consider spending the night? Who am I kidding? I don’t want her to just consider it. I want her there, in my space, in my bed all night like I’ve been in hers for weeks now. Wait, that’s not quite being totally up front with yourself, is it, Sarge? He felt his hands tremble and held them palm open to the hot water streaming from the shower head. Yeah, I don’t want her in my bed like I’ve been in hers all this time, like I think it’s best keeping things like they have been until . . .. Until what, Sarge? Her name isn’t in that damn grey book or any other book like it. You know that. You know you wouldn’t be here right now if she hadn’t invited you in of her own accord. No one told her to invite you. No one paid her to do that or anything else since. Yeah, you know that if she wanted to, she’d kick you out to sleep with the generator, or over at Anton’s in one of the “sun rise” rooms they keep ready for people when their domestic or other problems get out of hand.
He swished the water in the tub, for which he’d closed the drain in order to save the hot water for soaking his feet for a time after showering. Dinner and dancing while making the coconut cookies had taken the edge off the chill that had set in from wading through the cold water in the basement of the building the Lings lived in. Even Little George’s insulated rubber boots hadn’t quite stood up against the extended amount of time he’d spent setting things to rights water-wise in the cold flooded basement. He turned off the shower and let the tub fill with enough hot water to make his feet happier. Flexing his toes, he sat on the edge of the tub with his chin in one hand. Enjoying the scented steamy warm air, he resumed his conversation with himself. Yeah, I should have done this tub action for the feet right away. What is it with me and water lately? Ever since that first bath Lily made me take, I feel like I could live in a tub. Well, something a lot bigger than a tub. At least a lake or river. An ocean would be best. Oh Jeez, here I go on this bend again. It’s probably just that this bath thing is new and very cool. Especially with Lily’s home people scents added in. I can’t believe I never thought to try one on my own even after Kozy found that huge tub for the second floor. Lack of imagination, that’s what that lack is about, Sarge. Lack of imagination, that’s what does people in all the time. Is that my problem with Lily? Lack of imagination? Or just some old fear of imagining what sort of serious, meaningful relationship I want with a woman and screwing it up when it comes along? Wait, I’m not talking just any woman in general anymore. I’m talking about this one woman in particular. I’m talking about Lily.
Sarge turned the water back on and let the tub fill further while he eased himself down into the soothing heat. Yeah, this is the ticket. Relax, take my time. Think things out. There’s no hurry. It’s started snowing again. Lily is having some time to herself out there and I’m having some time to myself in here. It’s all good. We both know having this sort of time alone by ourselves works for us. Well, except for the fact that she has access to those coconut cookies and I don’t unless I make wet tracks…. Cut it out, Sarge. Get back to this ‘until what’ question and answer it already. Yeah, so what concerns are on this table? Hmm, concern number one: while I have no legit reason to think of Lily being the sort of woman who wants to screw around with me in bed just for the sake of screwing, well, let’s face it, that’s a concern considering what I’m damn sure has been the case with all the women I’ve gone to bed with so far. It’s a mind fuck I’ve apparently not quite gotten past yet. That ball is entirely in my court and I’ve got to deal with it. How do I get to where I can trust my own instincts and thinking that this is not Lily’s agenda?
He slid down until his head was entirely under the hot water then surfaced gradually with a relieved gasp. That’s it, get some more blood moving in the feet and the head feels better too. Answer to question, I’m not quite sure yet. Sarge, you know it’s not a good thing when you don’t trust yourself. How are you going to trust her, if you don’t trust you? Hold on, wait, but I do trust Lily. Why? How do you know that you trust her? Sarge looked at the bathroom door. Why? Well, let’s see what matters in regard to concern number one? Okay, except for the bath to deal with the dead squirrel shit smell, she’s never come in here while I’m showering or taking a bath, and she’s never come in and tried to start playing sex games. She respects our spaces in the bed. She keeps to her side and I keep to mine. Old Reliable Jack is in residence on the floor on her side. I don’t need something like Jack to make a point about wanting to be left alone while sleeping. Neither of us goofs around in there. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea and she hasn’t said or done a damn thing to give me the wrong idea. It’s like we both know it’s too easy to mess things up by saying or doing the wrong things in that context, so we’re extra mindful of being polite. I know I am anyway.
Damn, it’s too easy to hurt or get seriously hurt in this scenario. Well, there you have it, Sarge. You’re afraid of getting hurt again. If this doesn’t work you’re going to be hurt, and not like before. Even if it does work, you still are opening yourself up for some kind of hurt along the way. You know from talking things out with Anton that you already care enough about Lily to not want to hurt her, if you can possibly avoid it. Are you having some self-worth issues because of the names in that damn grey book? Maybe a few. But I’ve learned a lot in the last year or so by staying away from the ladies at the folks’ place. One major thing I’ve learned is that it’s not in the normal scheme of things for a guy to get set up with as many women as I’ve been by my family. That bullshit is definitely affecting me now. I can feel it. I can’t put words to it yet, but I feel it messing around in the back of my mind. I am well aware that Lily is not a set up. I know that inside and out. I’m concerned about that personal history I bring to this relationship. There’s no way around it. I’ve got to lay all the cards on the table as far I understand them for Lily. I wouldn’t want to be blindsided by someone with my history, so I’m not about to do that to her. I have no idea how she’ll react to any of it. I’m pretty sure that scares me. I understand what Anton says about her capacity to deal with dark shit, but still, in some very personal ways I’m a guy with a lot of trash trailing after him.
I also know I’ve got a lot to offer Lily that has nothing to do with sex. I figured that out by taking small chances with the ladies from the libraries and bookstores. I could see they weren’t right for me for a serious relationship and I wasn’t right for any of them. But it was also clear to me that all of them and me are right for someone. We all bring different things to a relationship table. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind getting some input from a couple of them, like maybe Diane and Elizabeth, regarding things with Lily. They’d be outside this context and see things differently than the people inside it. But right now that’s not happening. I’ve got me—and to an extent Anton to discuss things with. I’d call Kozy for a long chat if there was a phone somewhere with real privacy. But I haven’t seen one yet to ask about using for an hour or so. Yeah, a good long jawbreaker with Walter wouldn’t hurt one bit. Or maybe, what the hell, maybe I should just have a really long talk with Lily?
Sarge got out of the tub and put a towel to work drying his hair. I’m going to have to talk with her about my so-called past relationships at some point in time. Considering what we agreed upon today about living together, maybe sooner, as in now, is a lot better than later, even if I don’t yet have all the information I want about certain family matters. This way, if she decides to rethink things, no one else knows anything about it so she won’t be embarrassed or have to deal with questions she doesn’t want to answer. Yeah, thanks Diane for that tip about not embarrassing women with their friends by putting them on the hot seat concerning relationship issues unless you’re just itching to start a war.
He dressed while making a short list of the most important things he thought he needed to give Lily a heads up about. He knew he was on the right track when he finished buttoning his shirt, one of Little George’s loaned flannels, and realized his personal thermostat had retuned to normal. Feeling phsyically balanced again, he shook his head to get rid of any lingering water in his hair. He had previously noted his hair apparently found Lily’s home people plants agreeable in some way that when he left it to finish drying uncombed it appeared much neater than when washed without them. Even when he did comb it after a good washing with some of Lily’s herb mixtures, it looked like a nice neat tight mop rather than a ransacked squirrel haven as it had prior to Lily scent time. Though he admitted his take on this was totally biased because his nose was calling the shots in the home people land scents department. Lately his nose didn’t give a damn what his eyes had to say about anything. After pushing his hair away from his face, a futile gesture if there ever was one as it immediately went right back to where it had been, Sarge turned to open the door and felt a keen thrill of emotional electricity flit through him. It was much the same as the feeling that he’d experienced when he’d exited Big Bob’s and caught sight of Lily working her way up the street then set off after her. He liked the way that move had turned out, so hopefully this was an indication that this move, as strange as it felt to him in several ways because of the nature of what he felt he needed to talk about, also might turn out to be to his liking. There was no way to know except to follow through on his decision.
He opened the bathroom door and walked down the short hall to the bookroom. Hearing Lily speaking in two different voices Sarge wondered if Marianna or another child from upstairs had come for a visit and was being entertained with a story. This notion jumped right out the window as soon as he had sight of the back of the red velvet couch where Lily’s left foot was chasing her right across the top of the couch back. He stood listening to her switch from a falsetto to a something just below her normal voice speaking tone and realized there was a different voice for each foot which were being used in place of puppets for some adventure he couldn’t make heads or tails of because she wasn’t speaking in English. Recalling that he’d caught a glimpse of this same foot action when he’d returned after being doused with the garbage disposal refuse and that it had ceased as soon as she’d become of aware of his presence, Sarge kept quiet in order to satisfy his curiosity by watching her feet and listening to the tones of her dual voice action. Only when the storyline seemed to have played itself out and her feet rested on her heels moving slowly sideways in one direction and then in the opposite, did he announce himself by speaking.
“Hey Lily, do you have some time for seriously serious talk?”
“Considering the fact that I’ve been having a conversation with my feet, what do you think, Funny Man? Hmm?” Lily pushed herself up from the couch seat cushions just far enough to peer at him over the back of the red couch. “What’s on your mind, Sarge?”
He pointed at her feet as he came closer to the couch. “Well, first off, what’s that story with your feet about? I have to ask because your right foot really did a number on your left, but I have no idea why right foot beat the heck out of the left foot.”
Lily moved to sit cross-legged on the couch. “That’s not really what you want to talk about. You’re curious, but it’s not the headliner on your mind, Sarge.” She wiggled her toes. “Tell you what, I’ll go through the whole story in English for you, but only after we talk about whatever has you out of the bathroom after only half the time you usually spend in there. Deal?”
“You promise to tell the whole story after we talk, no matter what we talk about?”
“I promise. No matter what we talk about first, I will give you whole blow-by-blow from start to finish afterwards.” She made a few lines across her chest then shrugged. “What’s that called where people seal their promises with all this finger action in front of their chests? Whatever that’s called that’s what I just did.”
“Oh, you mean like ‘cross my heart and hope to die if I lie’. Yeah. Hm.” Sarge looked at her and smiled a little. “Okay, I guess I’ll just have to trust you to keep your word about the story.”
“I’m warning you that it’s probably not quite what you might be thinking it is. As in, it’s not some quaint little home people fable.”
Sarge sat on the warm radiator facing the couch. “Okay, so what kind of story is it then?”
“It’s a way I have of dealing with a few things that I have issues with. You know some safe, self-contained, acting out play.”
“Oh yeah? Does it work?”
“Enough so that I stop chasing the dog’s tail in my head.”
Sarge thought about her statement for a moment then nodded. “Then it works. I’m going to hold you to your promise.” He rubbed his bare feet on the rug and contemplated stretching out on the floor.
Lily waited for Sarge to speak his mind. She watched him move to lay on his back on the rugs where he liked to read stretched out along the radiators so he could look up at the sky through the windows without any obstructions. He was quiet for so long that she considered gently prompting him into speaking instead she heeded the soft hushing of her vibes and made herself comfortable by stretching out over the length of the couch. Realizing something just as important as their new agreement must be on his talk agenda, she listened carefully to his silence while he was searching for a good opening while the sky darkened outside the windows. Knowing he, like she, enjoyed the room at night without the lights on and the shades open as they were now, Lily shut off the lamp then lay back on the couch with her hands interlocked behind her head. Just after her eyes had fully adjusted to the change from lamp-light to moonlight he began quietly talking to her from the floor where he lay looking up at the night sky dotted with lightly falling snow.
January 1, 2014 at 9:00 pm (books, creative writing, culture, eating, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, food, humor, life, literary fiction, living, music, people, play, publishing, random, relationships, searching, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: #36, Benny Goodman, Book, Breakfast Special, cooking, creative writing, fiction, food, jazz, Let's Dance, Lily, love, love story, Lovers, music, novel, play, relationships, romance, Sarge, swing, Szechuan Shrimp Lo Mein, The Touch of Your Lips, work in progress, Writing
“Szechuan Shrimp Lo Mein”
“Hey, Sarge.” Lily leaned against the fridge wondering how to tell him he was welcome to stay without it coming across as if she was expecting a great deal more than either of them was ready for at the moment. She asked herself just what exactly she was really ready for, but before she could reply to herself, Sarge was in the kitchen holding a large round hot pink Tupperware container and grinning like a little kid who’d just found the best prize ever inside a box of cracker jack.
“Guess what this is, Lily.” He repeatedly flipped the container over and over showing his complete confidence in its ability to remain fully sealed while in motion.
Lily looked at his happy-as-all-get-out-hazel eyes and sighed. She grabbed hold of the container to stop its motion and peered at the milky white bowl. “Hmm. Looks like lo mein noodles.” She looked closer. “Is that shrimp I see? Open it! Open it!” Sarge set the container on the table and obliged her. Lily leaned in close and sniffed. “Oh hot damn, Sarge. Is this Mrs. Ling’s Szechuan shrimp lo mein?!”
“Indeed it is, Lily. Guess what’s for dinner, unless you were planning on poaching some eggs, of course.” He winked at her, stood with his hands behind his back, rocking from one foot to the other clearly excited with having brought this delicious dish home.
Lily shook her head hard enough to send her hair flying. “No. Oh no. Mrs. Ling’s Szechuan shrimp trumps everything including eggs. How did you get this?”
“Unscheduled basement flood emergency complete with blown fuse box. Yeah. It was worth wading around in that damn cold water for this.” He held up the Tupperware lid. “And this too: her coconut cookie recipe. Is this a major score or what, Lily?”
Lily took the lid from him and read the recipe. “O yeah, you scored big time, Sarge. No one makes better coconut cookies than Mrs. Ling. I’ve never had any better even in that fancy bakery in M- or anywhere else for that matter. Wow.”
Sarge sniffed the air. “Is that dinner I smell?”
“Yes, I think dinner is set. You hungry?”
“Starving. If you’ll warm it up, I’ll get cleaned up. “
“Go! Go! Go! Hurry up! I’m dying for some spicy shrimp.”
Walking backwards towards the bathroom, he said, “You have chopsticks, right? Eating lo mein with forks is just plain wrong in my book.”
“Do you really have to ask?” Lily laughed as she pulled out a pan for gently warming up the shrimp lo mein.
Five minutes later they were spearing shrimp and twirling noodles and playing with their food on the way to their mouths. “Is everything Mrs. Ling makes this good?”
Lily nodded. “Everything she’s brought to a potluck has always been good, but this and the coconut cookies are her best as far as my taste buds are concerned. I think she’s got some secret with the shrimp. Anton has been trying to figure it out, but so far he can’t pin it down. Mrs. Ling likes having her food mysteries, so she’s not saying.”
“When I tried this at that first potluck, I couldn’t get enough. It disappeared really fast too. Oh hell this is so good.” Sarge ate a shrimp and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, she’s doing something with these little beasties all her own. I wonder what else needs fixing in that building.”
Lily laughed and pointed at the list on the fridge. “It’ll be interesting to see what other top choice meal deals you bring home as you work through those repairs requests.”
“Mmm. I wonder if I could work out some regular meal trades for bread. What do you think?”
Lily stuffed a bunch of lo mein into her mouth and nodded as she chewed. “Worth a try. Everyone seems to like one kind of bread or another.” She speared a shrimp and offered it to him. Sarge promptly accepted it. “Yeah, bread deals for sczechy shrimpies, oh Gloria’s pierogies, maybe some of Harold’s buffalo sausages. Hmm. O yeah, Sarge, there are plenty of primo meal choices around the Flats for trading bread.”
“Mrs. Ranoli’s turkey cherry lasagna.”
“O yeah.” Lily laughed and they both dug into their bowls. She looked over at the list on the fridge again then back at the man enjoying his shrimp lo mien score.
Sarge caught her eye action and leaned back in his chair. He waited to speak until he’d swallowed and had a sip of tea. “What’s on your mind, Lily? Hmm?”
She sucked on the ends of her chopsticks for a moment and looked at the list then back at Sarge. With a little shrug she said, “There’s a lot of work on that list of yours. More on the main one that you’ve written your name by. That one on the fridge alone must be about thirty hours of full-time work all by itself.”
Sarge looked at the list and nodded. “Yeah, more or less depending on what I find when I actually get into seeing what’s messed up. A lot of that needs some serious attention as soon as possible. That’s why I took them. If there’s something electrical I can’t handle then Ricardo probably can. Anything like that at least I’ll save him the time and trouble of finding the problems.”
Lily set her chopsticks across the top of her bowl then pushed her hair behind her ears and mentally jumped. “Sounds like a good working plan. But how are you going to do all that and work full-time dock hours too?”
“I have that worked out with Oscar already. Starting from whenever he can open up the docks for freight as usual I’m taking two weeks vacation. That should let me get through the really bad stuff and anything else that decides to blow in that time.” Sarge suddenly realized he hadn’t discussed any of this with Lily. “Um, that is if it’s okay with you that I’m still hanging around here, of course.” He held his breath while watching her intently and bracing for negative impact verbally and/or physically for his oversight.
Lightly tapping her fingertips on the sides of her bowl she nodded. “Yes, it’s okay with me, as long as you still want to be hanging around here. That vacation time plan sounds good. Though it’s not much of a vacation for you, is it? Not exactly a trip to the Caribbean to get away from the snow and cold for a fun time.” Lily watched for any reaction from him regarding the indirect reference to the travel receipt in his coat pocket. He offered none that she could discern via direct observation nor her home people vibes and a certain small tight knot eased in her stomach.
“Oh I beg to differ, Lily. I’m having great fun with the whole shebang.” Unconsciously he lowered his head enough so that he was looking at her through the hair covering his eyes like a sheepdog who thought he’d narrowly escaped permanent banishment from its chosen human’s company forever. “Nasty garbarge disposal tricks aside, of course. But even those have their upsides, like baths and Lily swirlies.”
“Are you really enjoying everything, Sarge?” she said softly while glancing down into her bowl then at him then into the bowl again. “Even pushy Lily swirlies?”
Realizing she was talking about more than the work concerning the repair list, Sarge leaned slightly forward over the table. Wondering if a solid chance with Lily was now coming his way, he said, “Yes, I really am, Lily. I’m having a great time with you here in the Flats.” Seeing her sharp cheekbones suddenly flush brightly, he pushed his hair away from his eyes to keep from reaching out and touching her red streaked cheeks and said softly, “Lily, I don’t want any of it to stop: not the sharing breakfasts; not the dancing with you; not the bread baking; not the crazy repair work or minding Marianna on a tough day.”
Lily nervously twisted her fingers in her hair and smiled. “That’s good, because I’ve been having a great time having you here with me in the Flats. I don’t want any of it to stop either, Sarge.” She glanced at the list on the fridge again. “Since everything is working for both of us, then it doesn’t seem to make any sense to change things that don’t need changing, at least not to me.”
“Not to me either.” Hoping she couldn’t hear how hard his heart was pounding as he waited for her to share the rest of her thoughts, Sarge moved his hands under the table and tightly gripped his knees. “This is your home so it’s entirely your call when I stay or go.”
“You’re very welcome to keep staying here as long as we’re both agreeing with each other.” She shrugged a little and listened to her home people vibes murmuring softly. “Or whatever combination of here and your place makes sense when your vacation is over.”
“Okay, thanks, that sounds good to me.” Feeling awkward in spite of their mutual agreement, Sarge tried to find a way to create a more concrete and literal balance in the scenario. “My place isn’t nearly as . . . comfortable . . as yours. But it is a lot closer to the college. Maybe it could be useful to you somehow. There’s plenty of room for a study space all your own. Usually it’s pretty damn quiet too, even when Kozy is working on something downstairs. He won’t mind at all if you wolf howl your lungs out. Might rattle some of the guys on the docks, but hey, it would give them something different to talk about.” Sarge thought for a moment, searching for something else to offer her very practical sensibilities, he added, “There’s a bus stop close by for the long route that goes from the west end of Falls direct to M- and back. It’s easy to make a transfer connection to and from the Flats in several places.”
Understanding the balance Sarge was trying to create with the sharing of their individual spaces that he was offering her, Lily hummed with internal excitement while managing to respond calmly with quickly growing real interest. “Your place is near a bus stop for the long West-East route on the south side? That is very handy.” She tried, and uncharacteristically failed, to pin-point the stop location-based on her knowledge of the city bus system.
Encouraged by her tone and the gleam of genuine interest in her black eyes, Sarge did what he’d never dared to do in the five years he’d lived in the freight district on the second floor of Walter Kozy’s warehouse, he invited another person, this particular woman, directly into what amounted to as his personally sacred for its highly prized privacy, living space. “When the bus routes are back on track, how about we take a ride to the freight district so you can have a look around my place? We could brainstorm some other ideas. Let’s see what works for both of us.”
Feeling suddenly oddly shy and disconcerted about this development regarding sharing his living space, Lily’s voice was hardly above a whisper when she said, “I’d like that. It’ll be like figuring out how to pool our resources with our different locations in the city.”
“Exactly.” Trying to contain his own nervous excitement, Sarge took a deep breath. “We can work things out as we go along. Switch it up until we find out what suits us both.” He waited for her to make eye contact again. “I’m game for keeping things working for both of us, if you are, Lily.”
“I am too. I’m in, Sarge.” She partly hid her smile with her hand for a few moments while quickly considering the doors that had unexpectedly opened between them. “I guess that’s settled then.”
Picking up on the fact that her voice had become quiet and soft and correctly interpreting it as an indicator of her excited yet very nervous state of mind regarding the content of their conversation and its implications for each of them, Sarge tried to put her, and himself, at ease before one or both of them began back pedaling for any number of rational reasons. “If you say it’s settled, Lily, then it is as far as I’m concerned. I meant what I said about it all working for me. Truly it is. If something isn’t working for you, just say the word and I’ll do my best to set it right.”
“Same here, Sarge. Two way street.” She walked the fingers of each hand in opposite directions towards and past each other across the table.
Sarge watched her finger action and laughed. “A two way street, eh? Do we need a stop sign or a traffic light for getting from one side to the other? I doubt either would stop you from jaywalking at will.”
Feigning innocence, Lily pointed at herself. “Me jaywalking? Never. Ah ha. You’re a very funny man, Sarge.” She pointed to the teapot nearer him for a refill of her cup.
“Apparently I have my moments according to your sense of humor.” He grinned while pouring more tea into her cup and then his own and caught sight of Mrs. Ling’s cookie recipe. “Do you think Rosa has any coconut stashed somewhere so we can try out these cookies tonight?”
“Probably. But we don’t need hers, not yet anyway, when we’ve got coconut aplenty right here, Sarge.” She pointed backwards towards the storage cabinets.
Sarge glanced at the cabinet then at the recipe. “What are we waiting for then, Lily? Let’s make some cookies.”
She got up, opened a cabinet, pulled out a large bag of shredded coconut and tossed it to him. “How about some Benny Goodman on the side? That work for you?”
“That definitely works for me, Lily.” He watched her leave the kitchen for the record player in the bookroom. When she was out of his sight, he stood up and spun around on the balls of his feet in a quick silent celebration of their agreement to continue living together and working on their evolving relationship. Hearing static from the other room signifying the record player was now in action, Sarge froze with the realization that at this point in time he was already far beyond netting his former goal of getting to see Lily for a third or fourth time. He’d passed that goal weeks ago after the snow had first begun falling in earnest. Music came from the bookroom, but Sarge paid it no mind as Lily sauntered back into the kitchen with a preoccupied little smile on her lips. Catching his more than slightly stunned facial expression, she cocked her head to one side and came to a halt in front of him.
“You look like you’ve been hit with a dozen snowballs all at once, Sarge. What’s the matter? Shrimp lo mein, coconut cookies, Benny, and Lily more than you can handle at one time?”
Sarge looked down at the black eyes shining up at him and gave her a wicked grin. “Careful, Missy, or you’ll find out real fast just how much I can handle all at one time.”
“Ooooo that sounds like a dare.” Lily grabbed the bag of coconut from the table and tossed it at him then followed it up with the empty Tupperware container. She was reaching for the cookie tin when he gently stayed her hand with his. Lily turned towards him and he quickly stole a light brush of a kiss on the lips then shyly backed away like a skittish deer retreating from the bright lights on a road at night. Tempted as she was to hedge him in between the kitchen window, table and sink counter with a chair to stand on in order to soundly return the favor of his affection, she paid heed to the sudden warning turn of her home people vibes and refrained from taking such an approach. Instead she smiled and blew him a kiss. “I like you too, Funny Man.” She winked and began dancing to the music while gathering the ingredients for Mrs. Ling’s cookies. A moment later he joined her efforts.
Lily smiled to herself happy in knowing that she’d read him well enough that, in spite of his verbal daring and spontaneous kiss theft, he clearly couldn’t handle more at the moment. Backing off from physically returning the kiss and letting him return from his retreat on his own was plainly the right plan of action as his quick, unhesitant jump into the cookie making preparations signified. As they moved into sync for baking and dancing, her home people vibes humming along with the music, she felt him edge a little closer physically like a wary stray cat getting comfortable with the notion of proximity to a human setting out clean water and food for it. Treating him as if he were indeed such a cat, she kept to the program with which they were both familiar and comfortable and refrained from making any sudden movements of her own, tempting as that was considering their new mutual agreement to keep doing what was working for both of them, namely living together, and expanding their domain by venturing into his living space on the other side of the city.
As she gradually added coconut to the dough Sarge was steadily mixing with a wooden spoon, Lily reflected on the information he’d shared piecemeal about his home on the second floor of the warehouse in the freight district. The main thing that came to mind was a sense of it being far enough off the city’s well beaten paths to offer privacy and peace, trains aside, yet close enough for easy access with some foresight regarding public transportation schedules. She considered the comparative lack of both privacy and peace here in the Flats and gave him credit for adapting as well he had without complaint to the local environment. Having done more than her fair share of adapting, which seemed never-ending for her, she knew how the stress of it could manifest in unexpected ways. It wouldn’t surprise her at all if that alone was responsible for his starts and stops when it came to physical closeness when they weren’t dancing or sharing a task. She factored in the intense and focused way he read, as if his mental space was his most prized possession, and thought she had a fairly good explanation for his behavior. If they ventured into deeper emotional and physical waters now, and if they had a falling out, his as well as her options for literal private physical escape from the situation in the current context were practically nil. He might sleep in the front room occupied by the back-up generator and Ricardo’s in-home warehouse of food and other supplies deemed necessary for survival in the winter months in this climate, but it was no place for him or anyone else to spend their days waiting for the city to return to enough normalcy to enable a return home. The ready rooms over at “sun rise” didn’t offer any better solution all things people context considered.
Unconsciously they leaned into and against each other while together carefully reading Mrs. Ling’s surprisingly fluent English translation of the instructions for the next steps in the recipe. After placing the cookie dough in the fridge then setting the timer, they gave their full attention to the music and put the waiting time to good use dancing.
Lily gave herself up to the music Priest had shared with her in an effort to create for her a potential social bridge into another culture. Gran and her aging friends had joined in the music and dance efforts in order to encourage Lily and to get some sense of what Priest was trying to convey to her granddaughter. Now her home people vibes hummed with glee as Sarge, who held nothing back as a dance partner, twirled, whirled and spun her around the apartment as if this was the very best thing in the world to be doing right here and now.
Only after the coconut cookies had been baked and deemed satisfactory for first efforts with a new recipe, after they’d cleaned the kitchen, after they’d danced to the last song on the record and Sarge laid claim to the bathroom for a shower while Lily sprawled over the red velvet couch enjoying the view of the winter sky, only then did either of them take more than a moment to pause in order to reflect on their conversation over Mrs. Ling’s shrimp lo mien.
Breakfast Special, #1 -> https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/breakfast-special/