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An Odd Time Melody From Above
No time to beg her heart to jump from the balcony and make itself at ease in his breast pocket for he is near a deathdoor because time has filled him with six dozen birthday cakes and a case of colon cancer. He climbs up by the back stairs and grabs the girl by her dogscruff to make sure she knows who’s boss but she pushes him into the balcony backwall and puts a hardpan knee in his crotch and says no rough stuff.
Wait, he says. I thought we agreed that rough was the codeword this week and that we needed to spice our relationship with salsa dances and trespass motions. But she says you are mistaken and I won’t have it. And he says well okay if that’s the way it is, I’ll find another playmate.
But there are no more for him. He’s old and goes to the bathroom too often and blames it on coffee not age but that’s just for the outside world. Inside where it counts he knows the truth that romance is a once upon a time story, and now lives only in the heart, or as they say in the West Indies, the imagination. And she says now you’re catching on.
What do we do then? he says. And she says let’s take a class together and that sounds good so they enroll in How To Fix A Buick and before long they’re both up to their old armpits in sweat and grease but feeling younger and more like rolling in the hay despite the smell.
This goes on for weeks and they’re just about into the part about piston rods and camshafts when the teacher, a young man from the farthest reaches of Argentina, runs off with one of the students and elopes at the beach. Not even a postcard.
Looks like we’re stuck with each other says the once romantic old guy. And the still romantic old girl says I guess so and they climb into the back of the disassembled Buick and make it happen right there on the upholstery.
Now what? he says. And she says we pay the fine. And he says what fine?
The one where we wake up in the morning with aches and pains for pretending to be teenagers again.
That is indeed what happens when you stretch your limbs akimbo in the back of a Buick at a certain age and even though they both knew that before they started they decided to take a chance for what’s life without living? A good question and they both whisper amen.
Now then, she says. Let’s think about living.
He nods. Let’s think about loving.
Let’s think about our own song and forget about the ibuprofen. She nods toward the jukebox the teacher from the farthest reaches of Argentina left behind in the shop and says do you have a coin? But he says I’m fresh out. My songs all creak and crackle.
No matter. They kiss one more time and a magic cloud erupts from the Buick exhaust and envelopes them in memories of another time that seems like this time right in front of them so they both jump up simultaneously, or as they say in New York, at the same time, and walk out of the now abandoned workshop into the sunlight where a thousand couples stroll hand in hand and arm in arm, even leg in leg, through the plaza of no regrets.
A hamburger stand sells burgers in the style of ancient Rome and they buy two of them with all the fixings, or as they say down in Louisiana, dressed. They sit in the plaza and ask each other questions with no answers such as do you love me? And how many times have you failed to reach your desire?
But they are happy and all gassed up even as impossible answers to impossible questions run away to find people with more sensible expectations. For the man and the woman have been in the lifeboat together for several decades and know the difference between infatuation and commitment.
Lets get a milkshake in Paris he says and she says do they have strawberry? They laugh because they are old and don’t have the strength to swim the Atlantic. But they can enjoy each other here in this place and now in this time until the very last whisper has licked an ear and the very last piece of bread has mopped up the last of the hamburger sauce on the paper plate of life.
That sounds about right he says. Or maybe she says it because they are no longer sure who is the speaker and who the listener. For a lifetime they have gone in one ear and out the other, sometimes with a linger and at times with a rush. But there is power in the long haul and love in the short fuse that ignites when the moon sleepsteps out from behind a cloud to wish them a good evening, or as they say in the farthest reaches of Argentina, a good night.
And that would be the end of their adventure were it not for a miracle cure for prostrate cancer that snakes its way into the man’s colon and makes him realize that despite all of their differences, they do indeed love and will continue to do so as long as one of them remembers to write a note on each anniversary that spells out in clear and compelling terms that life is not a plaything to be tossed into the trash when it gets dirty, but a hard celebration of truth that love may not conquer armies of revolutionaries come to take the ranch for the cause, but it does buy enough time to thank the lord for the new day that climbs the trellis and the hardships that grind the bones, both of which are worthy in their own ways of our gratitude and respect.
Thank you for reading Dynamic Creed. This story is my contribution to the Soaring Twenties Social Club Symposium, a monthly set-theme opportunity for STSC writers. The topic this time around is romance. You might have already guessed that and also might have already wondered how I could have taken on such a foreign concept. Not to worry, I wonder myself.
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed it. Please tell your friends, leave a comment, an envelope with a bit of cash, or a bag of coffee beans. If you are new here and reading this or new here and not reading this, welcome. Thanks for coming into the house.