Saturday, July 27, 2019

Gin and Jealousy

Carl walked into a crowded bar. He looked around and saw, Andrea, his wife sitting at a booth with another man. The table separated them. Drinks were brought to the table by a waitress. Andrea and the man chatted and smiled at one another.
Carl walked up to the booth. “I thought you said you were working late.”
Surprise flashed on Andrea’s face, but she quickly smiled it away. “A report I was waiting for didn’t arrive so Frank invited me for a drink. Frank, Mr. Dixon,” she said nodding to Carl. “This is my husband Carl and Carl this is my supervisor Frank Dixon.”
Have a nice evening, Frank,” Carl said. “Andrea, let’s go.”
This isn’t what it looks like,” Frank said smiling uncomfortably. “We were just having a drink.”
Andrea said she would be at the office working,” Carl said. “If it was just a drink she would have called me.”
You’re taking this all wrong,” Andrea said. “This is embarrassing.”
Carl, Andrea is one of my best workers,” Frank said. “I even take my male workers out for a drink. It’s all the same to me.”
But it’s not the same,” Carl said. “And you know it isn’t.”
Look we just wanted to have an innocent drink,” Carl said.
Are you thirsty?” Carl said.
As a matter of fact I am,” Frank smiled.
Than drink some water from the fountain before you leave work,” Carl said. He looked at Andrea. “Let’s go home.”
Andrea slid from the booth. She was nearly in tears from embarrassment. “We are going to talk,” she said. “Never do this to me again.”
As they left the table Carl turned to Frank. “Never do this again.”
It was a cold and quiet ride home in separate cars. The dinner was just as cold and quiet.
The distance between them in bed might as well have been a continent apart.
I’ve never seen you so jealous,” Andrea said.
I’ve never had you not tell me you were going to do one thing and instead do another, especially something like that,” Carl said. “That was a gin and tonic in front of you, not a club soda.”
Jealousy can destroy a marriage,” Andrea said.
Not nearly as much and quickly as deceit and gin,” Carl said.
I can’t live with jealousy,” Andrea said.
Than try sleeping with it,” Carl said.
The next morning nothing was said.
Andrea slung on her coat to leave for work. She gave Carl a quick kiss on the lips she smiled. “I think jealousy may have protected me. Not last night, but a month or two from now. Dixon broke company rules. I‘m reporting him.”
Won’t that mean your job too?” Carl said.
Likely,” Andrea said. “But I broke them too.”
You don’t have to do this,” Carl said.
It’s not for you,” Andrea said. “It’s for me. And I know what you did last night was more for me than you. You would have forgiven, but I would have remembered.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Dreadlocks and Dimples

Virginia was black and Bucky was white. They attended second grade together. It was 1954.

Virginia was absent from school for two days. On the third day, Bucky worried about Virginia. He thought about her all day. Her empty chair was no emptier than his heart. He missed her answers in class, her smile, her walk; her presence.
On his way home from school, Bucky searched for pop bottles to cash-in at Sonny’s Grocery. He found five and cashed them in for ten cents. He bought two Mars Bars and ran to Virginia's home.
He knocked and Virginia’s mother came to the door.
Yes,” she said smiling.
My name is Bucky,” he said. “I’m in Virginia’s class. Is she still sick?”
She’s fine now,” she said. “She’ll be back in school tomorrow.”
I got a candy bar for her,” Bucky said. “Can I give it to her? I got one for myself. Can we eat it together?”
Virginia’s mother smiled uncomfortably. She looked around as if being coerced into something illegal.
Perhaps you should go home,” she said.
Could you give Virginia the candy bar?” Bucky said.
Suddenly Virginia appeared at the door beside her mother. Her dreadlocks hung like bananas. Her dimpled smile Bucky missed caused him to skip a breath.
I got this for you,” Bucky said handing the candy bar to her.
Her delicate hand started to reach for it and stopped. She looked up at her mother. Her mother smiled and nodded. Virginia smiled and politely accepted the candy bar. “Thank you,” she said.
Can I come in?” Bucky said.
You better run along,” Virginia’s mother said looking around once again.
They’re good with milk,” Bucky said. He smiled at Virginia and left.
Where the brick path from the house parts the hedges and meets the sidewalk in front of Virginia’s home, Bucky stopped and turned. Virginia stood in the front window. She brushed aside a dreadlock that hung on her cheek and waved. Bucky smiled and winked. Virginia winked and suddenly the dimple appeared as if drawn by an internal string.

Bucky ran home and in love.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Broken String

It wasn’t a long drive to the hospital. Kyle could drive it in his sleep; in fact, he had on a couple of occasions. He remembered them as he drove the Interstate toward his exit.
Two months ago he got a call about 1:30 AM. It was the hospital. Nellie was going through a crisis. The nurse sounded as if it were grave. He had given her a goodbye kiss at 9:00 PM. She was smiling and comfortable. The doctor even said she may be able to go home in a day or two. When he got there the crises had left as quickly as it came and Nellie was fine. “I hope that’s all it is this time,” he murmured.
As he turned off the highway he thought about earlier. She looked in his eyes and smiled contentedly.
It’s time we face together what we already know,” Nellie said.
It is not good to lose hope,” Kyle said and clasped her hand resting on her stomach.
Nellie smiled wider. “It’s okay, Kyle. Hope is based on certainties not on what will never happen.”
We can hope for a cure,” Kyle said, “that’s possible.”
There is no cure,” Nellie said. “We know that. Maybe it’s best we hope for—I don’t know, Kyle, tell me what you really hope for?”
I always hoped that someday I would see you before an audience playing your violin,” Kyle said.
I was never that good,” Nellie said.
Yes, you were,” Kyle said. “You knew you were but you gave up your hope for me and the children.”
No,” Nellie said, “that’s an easy way out. I really wasn’t that good. I was good here but I could have never made it beyond here.”
All I know is that I hated the violin until I heard you play,” Kyle said, “and I loved hearing you practice.”
No you didn’t,” Nellie said. “You always closed the door when I practiced.”
That was to make the sound perfect,” Kyle said.
Okay,” Nellie said, “if that's so, what did you like hearing me play?”
Meditation de Thais,” Kyle said.
A wonderful piece,” Nellie said. "You more than listened."
No one played it like you,” Kyle said. He released the grasp on Nellie’s hand. He stood and walked over to the closet and removed Nellie’s violin. He handed it to her. “Play it.”
Sure,” Nellie said, “but my condition will not allow me to play it the way it was written.”
Not so,” Kyle said. “It was written for you and you only.”
Kyle adjusted the bed for Nellie to sit. She quickly tuned the violin and began to play Meditationde Thais.
Kyle listened and imagined Nellie playing with an orchestra—his hope. The music wafted through the hospital floor like a sweet healing balm. Nurses and patients gathered just outside the room. They breathed love, longing, and hope. For a few brief moments, everyone was someplace where pain, sickness, death, and tears were no more.
Nellie came to the end and handed the bow and violin back to Kyle. “Someday a string will be broken.”
I know,” Kyle said. “I know.”
What then do you hope for?” Nellie said.
Music that can be played on three strings,” Kyle said.
Kyle sat the violin beside the bed stand.
I’m tired,” Nellie said, “and it’s best you get home and make sure Thomas and Toni are in bed. Give them a goodnight kiss for me and tell them their Mamma loves ‘em.”
Kyle sat the bed back down and leaned over for three kisses. He walked to the door and turned around. Nellie’s eyes were heavy. She waved and gave an air kiss.
That was five hours ago.
Kyle parked the car and rode the elevator to the fifth floor. “Fifth floor,” he thought. “that’s the floor everyone seems to die on. If you’re on the fifth floor that’s it.”
Kyle hesitated as the door opened to the fifth floor. “I wish the last six months were a dream,” he thought. He walked toward the room. As he neared it, a nurse walked out. “Mr. Franks,” she said and rested her hand in his, “Mrs. Franks has passed.”
Kyle pressed his lips and held back the emotions but tears appeared as if seeping through the skin.
Would you like somebody with you?” She said.
No,” Kyle said.
The nurse moved aside. Kyle took a step. “Oh, Mr. Franks,” she said, “that was a beautiful piece Nellie played tonight. It made the night go better for us all.”
I’ll tell her,” Kyle said.
I already did,” she said, “but it will be better coming from you.”
Kyle walked slowly into the room and moved around the curtain shielding Nellie’s bed from the doorway.
Kyle sat on the chair next to the bed. It was strange he thought because his first impulse was to smile. “That’s the way she would want it,” he said to himself.
Kyle bent over and grabbed the violin and bow. He placed it beside her. He smiled again as he noticed a broken string.