Sunday, February 28, 2010
Emma’s pulling on her yoga top and a sarong she cut to knee-length. “You’ve got to talk to him, Scott. Just tell him to back off now and then,” she says. “So he doesn’t wear out his welcome.”
“Emma, my dear, you make a good case.” We kinda forgot Charlie never leaves the hammock anymore.
He calls up at us. “I’m waiting for you to throw me overboard.”
I jump down from the ladder’s middle rung. He’s sucking on an Imperial, too smug to notice I’m flipping him out of the hammock, and he lands hard. His big fat self flat on his back.
“Get outta here, Charlie. I mean it. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
“Scott, I was fooling around.” He extends his arms and holds his palms toward me. “How ’bout a little dignity?”
Emma’s teaching her wake-up yoga class, when Charlie suggests we settle this walking along the beach. Which means he’s still fucking with me. This is what happens when you’ve known someone too long. We’ve been friends—best friends—for twenty years. So what am I gonna do? He’s pathetic.
We trudge in damp sand for awhile, but the river, which I love, lies half a mile away. There we can wade uphill, sliding from rock to rock, our voices echoing through the cavern.
So I steer him into the fresh water. For awhile we pull soft mud from the riverbed and hurl it at each other. At the river head there’s a bottomless pool and I climb to the top of the ledge. Charlie watches from the other side.
I dive and surface twice before gliding over to him.
“Don’t ask if I need money,” Charlie says. “No drug dealers are after me.”
“Why don’t you go home then?”
“I suppose eventually, yeah, I should call Billy, see what’s up. But there’s no urgency.”
“Why are you buggin’ me and Emma? Every other woman I hook up with, going back to middle school, you meet, greet, and disappear.”
“Well…” He scoots back in the brush and only speaks when he’s sure I can’t see him. “This one’s Scott and Emma, Emma and Scott—from now on. Mr. Charlie’s just an old friend you’ll see twice a year.”
I hate it when we’re saying what we both already know. But that’s how Charlie operates.
“Why don’t you patch up things with Kitty? Tell her you’re sorry. Rub her feet, whatever it takes. Because if you keep crowding us, Charlie, we’ll end up hating you.”
“You’ll hate me,” Charlie says. “You know that’s always been there along with all the other shit, Scott. Little bit of hating me. Only on your end, not on mine.”
I shake my head at the bushes where his voice seems to be coming from. “Whatta ya want me to say? You win.”
He emerges from hiding and smiles. “Thatta boy. You gotta let me win.”
We’re heading downstream and he tries to hug me. I throw him off.
“So queasy, Colossus,” he’s slapping my back. “You’ve got everything you want so you have to invent problems.”
He’s always saying that. And I’m always telling him to shut up.
He’s laughing, “Yeah, man!” and nodding, “Emma’s yours as long as you want her.”
Ha-ha-ha. That’s how he laughs now. Ever since Pavones, he’s been such a sad man. Mr. Happy’s dead and Mr. Charlie is sad as hell wherever he goes. But he doesn’t go anywhere anymore, just circles around me, night and day like death in the air.
“I’m gonna go grab me a fix,” he says, pointing at me so I’ll give him time to get away.
He stumbles downstream, falling on the rocks, grabbing a branch, falling, and reaching up again.
(to be continued)
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
by jennifer broughton
visuals by rhoda
chapter 2: plaything of fate
visuals by rhoda
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
After Emma’s morning class, several girls in bikinis (this group’s from Seattle) mill around, asking her about shoulder alignment or pulled hamstrings.
Emma doesn’t look at me, but focuses only on the short-haired brunette who’s waited to talk to her. I’m leaning along the deck’s railing.
Without moving her head though, Emma lifts a curled hand, her index finger bending my way, hello.
It seems as if it takes a really long time, but I’m sure it doesn’t: Her yoga class finally disperses. It’s lunch time and the smell of Berto’s cooking makes me weak.
“You’re back early.” On tiptoes, Emma kisses me deeply enough to create a little excitement. Stepping back, she frowns at the gash on my forehead.
“I had enough.” I was about to tell her how much I missed her but Emma glances over her shoulder, studying something else, so I decide, better not.
“He stayed there,” I tell her. “We’ve rented the place for four more days.”
No reason to mention how I got stuffed by that wave, lost my board, and bashed my head so bad I couldn’t remember my name for thirty-six hours. In fact, just so she won’t ever suspect what happened, I stayed in Pavones two extra days, doing nothing. The last thing I need is Emma thinking she needs to nurse me the way she did with that snake bite.
“So was it good?” She jumps up and sits on the railing beside me.
I nod. “It was really good.”
She leans in closer and squints at my face. “Kitty’s got butterfly band-aids.”
“It’s not that bad, Emma. I didn’t quit surfing because of a little scrape.”
“You quit surfing?” Her voice carries a solemn edge. (Didn’t I just tell her that I didn’t quit?)
“I didn’t quit surfing indefinitely, Emma—just for now.”
She grins. “So was Charlie obnoxious?”
“That’s why everyone loves Charlie, because of his whole-hearted obnoxiousness. He’s so out front. Not like you, Scott. You can be charming, that’s for sure. But you’re never obnoxious, and never out front. I have to guess.”
“You don’t need to guess, Emma. Not ever. Just ask and I’ll tell you.”
“What if I’ve already guessed?”
We’re walking to the pavilion to eat and I stop to look at her. “Have you? What’s your guess?”
“You missed me. That’s why you left early. You missed me.”
“How can you tell?” I’m holding her hand.
“I can tell.”
We eat at one of the small tables with Kitty and Sean—Logan’s doing a massage, for which you can count me profoundly grateful.
Kitty and Emma eat two bites before agreeing the gash on my forehead needs make-shift stitches. So we march up to Kitty’s year-round house. She applies antiseptic, which barely stings at this point. But then she pinches the split-apart skin together. She applies six of those x-shaped “butterfly band-aids,” pressing with all her might to close the cut. The force awakens my nerve endings. Repairing the gash calls up all the pain I didn’t feel when it happened, since I was knocked out. And after wards, I didn’t notice it because the whole struggle was—putting my mind back together.
Kitty and Emma both tease me for wincing. “What a tough guy.”
We return to our plates full of little tacos and dip them in lemon and mango juice. For dessert we eat big, dense slices of blackberry tart.
Full and sleepy, Emma and I stand up, ready to head home. And Kitty whispers, “Remember you’ve got the rest of the day off, honey. The Seattle group is doing their internal cleansing this afternoon.”
So we play under the shower. I’ve finally regained enough strength to hold Emma like she’s nothing. She folds her legs around my hips. Later, we doze under the mosquito netting. Half asleep, I’m wondering: What’s the best way to lure her back to Chicago? How soon can we leave?
Beginning to wake, Emma says, “Don’t worry so much, Scott. I’m with you. And God, I missed you; I really missed you.”
The scarlet macaws convene in the tree just beyond us, meaning the afternoon’s ending. Emma kneels up and shakes powder on her hands, which she spreads over her whole sweet, delicate body. And then, using more powder and a lighter, slower touch, she glides her hands up and down mine. She lies on top of me and nestles her face against my chest. She slides up and darts the tip of her tongue in my ear.
I take it from there…
But at the worst possible moment—I mean, the very worst moment—Charlie arrives. He’s calling out, so awful, it’s funny, “Hey kids, I’m home! Scott? Emma? Emma, Scott? Get down your butts down here! Your big fat daddy’s home!”
(click here for the next episode)
Saturday, February 20, 2010
additional dialogue in red from "got the blues for murder only" by lonnie johnson