Sunday, September 26, 2010

From…The Zuni Motel

Outside the restaurant, the New Mexico sun flat out baked Jack Fry. What the hell was he doing in New Mexico? And what the hell was he doing with Belinda? No money, no nothing. Listening to Martin? Christ almighty! With a kid that wasn't even his. Oh, my! True love. He stood in the restaurant parking lot with hands on his hips, staring into the hazy afternoon. What ever happened to Rosie? Whatever happened to the dream of Rosie?

Jack was too short to play, but he played anyway. It was the year he had his second pair of racing skates. Everything was being investigated, executed, or couped over. The Democrats stuck it to the Democrats. Somebody put Ike in a dirigible and floated him halfway around the convention center. He smiled and became a Republican. It was a great year for margarine, mink coats, fixed tax fraud and the feeding of many pigeons. Mitch Miller blew smoke over the 78s and "Big Jay" McNeeley blew teenagers right out of L.A. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." Johnny Ray tore his clothes off and waited twenty-seven years to be booked at the Rio Nido Inn in Rio Nido, California. He was a smash!

Round and round the rink went Jack Fry, every afternoon and night. Faster and faster, the blades flashed under the floodlights and later at Boll Field, the big field with the little cabin that had hot chocolate and a pot bellied stove that burned pine, Fry talked to a girl, who talked like gravel and her name was Alice, she was a Catholic and she wore yellow mittens and white figure skates, had curly blond hair under a green wool cap tied under her chin with strings of tiny bells. Fry raced around the ice listening to organ music and holding hands with the girl who talked like gravel. He walked her home past the Italian American Club by the railroad tracks, where the carnival came every August and parked the big flatcars with marvelous red and yellow wagons and trucks. And kissed her, oh her face was cold and her lips were flat; it was her first kiss and his first kiss; it was so cold the snow squeaked beneath his boots and all he heard was the thunderous beating of his heart.

That summer he directed a show about skeletons and oranges on his front porch. He called it, THE FUN SHOW. Nobody came and he watched sadly from the sidewalk as his friends kinked and gyrated, waffled and giggled in the 88 degree afternoon. Directed a murder mystery for his sixth grade class that fall. Stabbed his girlfriend six times with a wooden knife he made in his cellar. Left some clues. Caught the culprit. Solved the crime. The whole class clapped; the teacher clapped. Broadway was only a smile away.

Eva Peron shrunk and Elizabeth Taylor stood on a Riviera beach sipping through a straw while the Klu Klux Klan flogged a housewife in North Carolina. Arnold Shuster blew the whistle on Willie Sutton and somebody got Shuster. They sure did. Jersey Joe Walcott took it bad in the thirteenth, the heat got Sugar Ray in the fourteenth, Nixon relaxed with Checkers, and Harry Krajewski campaigned for the Poor Man's Party with a pig on a leash. It was the year of pubic hair, lilacs and a hint of sweat to come. Nobody was breast fed and everybody ate 42 hot dogs that year.
One morning he woke up to snow and there was no heat in the bedroom. He rolled over and looked into the wooden radio. Jack Fry decided he had to find Rosie. He didn't even know what she looked like.

Ed Selby’s daughter, Leisha had him going. Ed stored refrigerators in his back barn for years. He had a freezer full of chickens, peas, corn and pork chops. All part of an empire, a furniture business he built from scratch, the remnants of a rag business his father ran from a cart for forty years.

Jack Fry discovered if he climbed up on a refrigerator box by the window in Selby's barn, he was eye level with Leisha's bedroom window. Leisha stood by her bed on the second floor, pulling her white top off and tossing it on the bed. She fingered her brand new breasts. She fondled her nice pink nipples. She slid out of her kitten yellow panties and lay back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. She stroked her brand new self slowly, slowly, slowly. Fry kept himself well occupied, except on the nights of a new fallen snow.

Yes, Jack Fry had to find Rosie. Once he leaped on that bus with his suitcase full of already worrisome ideas about "life," which was an easy word then, he knew, he just knew. When a pretty brunette, who sat next to him got off, dragging her suitcases to "home," probably a neatly trimmed lawn hugging a ranch house with aluminum siding, just outside of Kingston, he thought she was crazy.

He knew the bus station cafeterias of Jell-O and tuna salad sandwiches, fried eggs and bad coffee taken cream and sugar, were on the route to a new SOMEWHERE. He sat at the far end of a table with one eye on the clock, it being a ten minute stop, knowing ice skates and a drunken, howling old man in a nightmare he hoped to forget, held little hope. He believed in humping trees, grass between his toes, fine mysteries and danger. Only for the instant the burned coffee shot through his veins at an hour he was somewhere he'd never been at an hour like that before, did he sense, that what he might have left behind, was himself and that seemed to be perfectly all right.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

From Reel Cinema-If You Like That-Aunt Jane

As we pulled away I looked back and saw Aunt Jane waving from the front window. I saw her in August staring down the block past the garbage cans, kinked and bashed at the curb, her fingers resting on the sill of the half open window. A light breeze tickled the ends of the white curtains. She was thinking about Uncle Mark back when he called on Sunday afternoons in his blue pinstriped suit, his already thin black hair and his polished black shoes. He drove up through Albia and out to the country, and back along Crooked Lake where they stopped to dream, back when his eyes were icy blue in the lake's reflection, when she was secretly afraid, but so in love. She listened to the long-and-ever June bug harping through the heated afternoon. From time to time, a fish rose on the lake and she watched the concentric circles ripple to nothingness. They might build a cabin up there some day, in a couple of years, say 1925. Aunt Jane raised her arm to wave, perhaps to call to him, but he was gone and her hand that was a fist just a second before, settled in a brush of fingers along the folds of her dress and the silent room took over.