Monday, July 29, 2013

He & She

Flying down the darkened PCH, she is draped in the sultry heartache of Madeleine Payroux, her bare feet rest on the dashboard. She is counting the folks still on the beach when she sees a splotch skitter across her passenger's side window. As fast as her shriek is sharp, she is out of her seatbelt, diving into the backseat, her dressy dress snagging on the emergency break.

"Get it Bear!"

"Where? Where Bear?"

After 20 years they've settled on the same nickname for each other.

“Don't let him get in my shoe!” She presses herself into the back of his seat, her mouth dangerously near his ear. “You have to, you have to,” she implores.

He tries not to swerve, going 60-something in the southbound lane with the cement median within arm reach. Her pleading squeezes his heart.

Every time is like the First Time for her and he knows by now it is the Only Time for him.

He accelerates and miraculously maneuvers through speeding traffic to an open spot on the shoulder. Loose gravel sputters out-from-under and over-the-edge, where the road drastically ends.

With a precision that speaks of skills hard-earned, he is out of his seatbelt as quickly as she was. In one swift move, he flicks on the dome light, reaches across and rescues both shoes.

“I see him!” he assures.

“Don’t let him fall!”

He wonders for the first time ever why it always becomes a him in such situations but he knows he hasn’t a moment to spare.

Swoooosh. His hand is a flash.

“Did you? Did you get him?” she questions as he throws open his door and jumps out. He doesn't answer immediately and she knows he’s checking for success. She also knows he will tell her the truth, even if it means he’ll be combing the car in the dark, while she shivers in the ocean air.

Neither can stand the suspense. He peeks into his palm.

“One hundred percent,” he says, “We are in the clear!”

Her audible exhale is his prize.  

She climbs back into her seat while Madeleine Peyroux covers the last refrain of You Don't Know Me. She puts her feet back on dashboard and smiles at the contrast.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summertime: The Girl

There are four of them, three guys and a girl. They stand in line for the Porta-Potties with the rest of the festival goers.The guys yabber saying ‘fuck dude’ and ‘hell yeah’ while tipping back Tecates and passing around inside jokes like joints. Even behind sunglasses, it’s unmistakable, their eyes are on the girl.

The girl has long tan legs and is gangly beautiful. Her left arm drapes across her modest chest, hand grabbing her other arm's elbow almost apologetically. She slouches a little, possibly because she's taller than the tallest guy in the group. She laughs along but makes no sound, her shoulders shake, she smiles a partial yet beguiling smile. Unlike the other girls in line, with powder-perfect cheeks and Pin-Up hair, her lips are bare and her hair lays loose.

I wonder which one likes her the most? The one who punches swear words like he’s stabbing at the air? The one who runs his thumb affectionately across his tattoos as if they were recently inked? Or the one who wears a silver skull ring on his middle finger and keeps checking for his wallet?  

The girl's nail polish is chipped, a remnant of some event’s past, the messiness not even an afterthought. Her wrists are adorned with a variety of thin bracelets, the kind gathered over years, from cities visited, friendships made and kept, mementos gifted. They’re not the kinds that come in a set.

She only moves when the line moves. She is present but not rapt, engaging in their chatter, yet often shamelessly somewhere else. When she wanders, the three try urgently to entice her attention.

She gives them a ‘here goes’ look as she turns to brave a recently vacated john. The guys nod their encouragement but continue, for a good ten seconds, to discuss Richie Ramone who’s releasing a solo album and how that can’t be a good idea, before they abruptly hush and huddle-up, foreheads nearly touching.

I hear, "…she…she…she…she…she…" laced with such unreserved awe that I hold my breath.

And then they giggle, they boy-giggle.