Monday, May 31, 2010

Tough stuff

This weekend... we threw a mans life in the garbage.
Sounds awful, when I say it that way.
My boyfriends father was a medic in the Korean war. He was biological father to two and adoptive father to two. He was a musher and for years had sled teams.  There is not much else I know about him other than the fact that he was 6'4 or thereabouts. He couldnt drink grapefruit juice because of his medications.(And he loved the stuff) and he battled Cancer for many years before I even met him.  That is what finally took his life a few short days after his birthday in February of this year. He was big into the military history, and the music that went with it. (Having been in the military I suppose) And he never spoke of the war or his part in it.
Anyway... this weekend.. after many weekends of sorting and agonizing over what to do about the things in his home, we decended on it and threw what we could carry out of it and sold off the rest. A life time of papers and photo memories and cans and jars and bags of coins. I hate this type of thing. I want to keep every picture or written memory but as was pointed out to me..... where do they go? Packed away once they come to our home, in a box and stashed in the basement never to be looked at. So I relented and it all went out to the dumpster.
We started hauling out at 9 and worked throught to 6:30. We met a few interesting people along the way like Dan who will be out new small engines guy. He came by with his young son Ryan who really really liked the globe on the desk.  That is now his. Dan took all the old metal off our hands and came out and removed our appliance garden as John liked to call it. Dan stripes everything apart for the metal salvage and sells it off for cash. I could go on more about Dan, met his wife later on who is 4 or 5 months pregnant... then there was "Off the Grid Mike or Doug" I cannot remember his name, he was by a few times on Saturday, and I got in conversation with him in the garage. He had driven in on a beautiful Harely Davidson motorcycle, and had wandered about to see if anything intrested him, and he made a couple purchases. He had that burley biker look to him and reminded me of the one guy on Myth Busters, the quiet sullen one who's name escapes me.
I was in the garage and duped the contenst of a large plastci bag to find it contained a rather large nest of mice. Needless to say, I screamed at the shock of seeing this pile of fluff move and a mother come flying out with what looked like about 6 babies stuck to her underside as she ran around looking for some shelter.
Well, "Off the Grid Mike or Doug" wandered in to see what the commotion was about and asked if I was OK. I explained what had startled me and while I spoke he gathered up in his hands the babies that had fallen of her teets and the other strays in his large hands and gently placed them agains the wall where mother had found a crack to hide in. "Don't worry about them he said, they are survivours, they will find another home." Another family came by and purchased the sofa, several chairs and lamps I think. They had just, after 3 years completed building their log home with the timbers he had cut and stripped himself. They DID have them milled and shaped to fit one on top of the other like the logs toys I played with as a kid but thats about all that they had done outside of thier own hard work. Salvaged doors and windows from other old buildings one of them being a Bigwin island building. They pulled out the album and we looked though three years of hard labor as they lovingly built thier home. That day we met three intersting families who make their lives in less traditional ways than most of us who hold 9 to 5 jobs. However and whatever it takes to get the food on the table. All of them your Jack of many trades. Each one of the men certified in many fields of skill and not stuck to any particular one day after day..... and everyone one of them seeming so very happy, and of all the people we met on that day, they were the most socialable. They scrounged around the house and saw the potential in the same things that many had turned thier nose up at.
So the house got cleared out and cleaned up. I got over having to throw stuff out that I wanted to see kept. I just got too tired to care. And afterall, the best memories are stored inside my head anyway. And I think we all made some new friends

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#fridayflash - Erica

Erica stared hard at her reflection in the bathroom mirror.

The morning light beaming in the window was not her friend today but she could fix that. She leaned in close to the mirror and smoothed her foundation over her face. Standing back to examine her work she decided to apply some more concealer here and there to even out the colour, then puffed on the powder to fix everything in place.

Gary had bought her one of those fancy make up mirrors for the cabinet with the different levels of lighting to adjust to varying environments. Day, evening and office. She would be heading out into daylight upon completion of her makeup so picked the appropriate setting on the mirror.

Turning her face left and then right to see if there were any less than perfect spots she started on her eyes.

She thought about the evening before and then back to the day she first saw Gary. She worked in the cosmetic department of a high end department store catering to only the cities most affluent.

Erica was a makeup artist. She had studied for a year and a half at one of the best schools in Hollywood and was very good at what she did. She had applied for this job hoping that by working at this counter selling product and being able to demonstrate her skills to Hollywood’s elite that she might be able to achieve her dream and one day get a position as an artist on movie sets. Only the most beautiful of people were employed here. And Erica was striking. Hollywood’s famous shopped here and she had waited on many of them. She figured it was only a matter of time before she was “discovered.’

She first noticed Gary walking arm and arm with a gorgeous blond. He was your classic tall dark and handsome and Erica wondered if he was possibly a model or an actor. Later as they strolled past on their way out he happened to glance in her direction and then again.

“Ohhh a double take” Erica thought to herself and gave him her most charming smile. He smiled broadly back at her. She felt herself flush and her heart skipped a beat.

Although she kept a lookout for him it was sometime before she saw him again.

Then early one morning she caught sight of him carrying a large bouquet as he confidently strolled past the other counters flanking both sides of the isle. She watched as the girls at other counters would fan themselves and giggle after he passed. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen and her pulse began to race as he got closer. His eyes met hers and she quickly looked down. Embarrassed to have been caught staring. Her breath stuck in her throat. And she waited until she was sure he had passed. When she looked up it was straight into his deep blue eyes. He was smiling at her as he held out the bouquet.

“For you my beauty” his velvety voice announced. “I have done nothing but think of you since our eyes first met. “ What time do you get off of work? Will you do me the honor of sharing a meal?”

“Oh my god he is so charming” Erica thought to herself and she could see him in another time swirling off his coat ‘Sir Raleigh’ style and taking her hand to escort her over a puddle in the road.

“ Um.. ah” she stammered, now at a loss for words and very aware of the look of shock and envy from the other girls at the counters he had passed.

“Six” she blurted, then blushed because her voice was far louder than she had intended.

“Six it is then” he replied and taking her hand in his he bowed slightly saying, “I will pick you up here” and turned to go.

Erica’s legs turned to Jelly and she put her hands on the counter to steady herself.

That was just short of 6 years ago. Gary picked her up that evening and swept her off her feet. He courted her in a way she had only dreamed of. It was every girls dream. A whirlwind romance full of flowers, and gifts followed by a fairy tale wedding.

“There is no one for me but you” he whispered in her ear as he held her tight last night, “and no one for you but me”

The flowers arrived this morning as they always did after an evening like last night.

“You know how much I love you” scrawled in Gary’s hand across the card.

Erica looked at the ticket on the counter. Her bus left in an hour. She had to get moving.

She looked again at the skillful application of makeup that did a great job of hiding her black eye. One of the many she had acquired over the last 4 years since they had married. The long sleeves of her blouse covered the ugly bruises on her arms.

Walking through the house, suitcase in hand, Erica opened the front door and squinted in the bright light. She turned and took one final look at what had been her home, then closed and locked the door.

Friday, May 7, 2010

#fridayflash - Angela

Emmet sat reading his paper by the light of the morning sun that beamed in the window. Hot coffee held in his hand ready to sip at a moment’s notice.
His wife was out in the yard working in the garden and he observed her, a scowl of disgust on his face.
“She is talking to those damned flowers like they were people. "Friggin woman is half crazy" Emmet thought to himself.
He watched her as she moved up the drive past his car. Hose in one dirt crusted hand.
"Better not get any dirt on my baby" He announced out loud and jumped at having startled himself by the sound of his own voice. The scalding coffee slopped onto his hand.
“Shit” he yelled out loud again grabbing the towel from the sink to wipe it dry.
“Friggin woman” he thought again glaring at her as she moved down past the car again.
He watched with an eagle eye to be sure she was gone and around the other side of the house before he relaxed and allowed himself to sit and get back to his morning paper.
He read about some local kids who had gotten themselves killed.
“Stupid fools” he muttered “likely driving too fast” He noticed a name he recognized from down the road a bit then realized one of the children killed was a neighbors son.
“Of course” he thought, “Idiot like his father”. Emmet had never been a fan of Pastor Dan Wilson and his family. And sure as hell, the minute his wife Kate found out she’d be on the phone with all her busy body friends organizing a food chain. That’s what she called them anyway. Anytime there was a death in town she would get all her “nasty ass old cronies” to cook meals for the family and each day one of them would take a basket of casseroles, fruit, and sandwiches over.
Emmet moved onto the next headline as he lifted his now cooler coffee to his mouth.
“Bodies of missing couple found after 50 years”
Emmet’s eyes just about popped from his head. His coffee hand remained frozen half way between his mouth and the table. His eyes scanned the article looking for names.
Naw. Couldn’t be.
Not after all these years.
Then the name leapt off the page.
“Shit!” Emmett spat out
Clarence, they had found Clarence.

“Sweet ride you got there Clarence.”
Emmet coveted Clarence’s Car. A 1956 Buick Centurion. Some rich uncle had given it to Clarence for no special reason. Emmet was envious. The car was a thing of beauty. Sucking the breath out of Emmet’s chest every time he saw it. It had a claret red upper body, a brushed metallic finish on the lower portion and an all glass top and was powered by a 325 horsepower V8 engine. All this was topped off by wing-type" back fenders and the most amazing thing to Emmet was the camera in the rear to report traffic to the driver via a television screen in the dashboard, replacing the rear view mirror. Emmet thought of the car as a woman and secretly named her Angela. He certainly lusted after her the way other men lusted after women. Her hood sloped seductively and Emmet moved forward and lovingly ran his hand over it. Like he was making love to her. He stood back a bit admiring her curves then leaned in and stroked the soft red leather seats. Emmet got a woody every time he thought about being inside her. Emmet was in love. His friend knew of Emmet’s love for this car and Clarence, being his best friend since the age of 6 had promised it to him in his will. That was assuming his wife Betty died first. “Bitch” Emmet thought to himself. She doesn’t appreciate Angela anything like I do. And silently hoped Betty would be the first to go.
One afternoon at the close of the work day, Emmet approached his friend, and putting his hand comfortingly on his friends back in a monotone voice said, “Clarence, I need to talk to you.”
The tone in Emmet’s voice caused Clarence to think something serious was up. Emmet guided him to the back room of the Hardware store they mutually owned and worked at.
“Buddy” Emmet said solemnly,” I think you best sit down” The look in Clarence’s eyes was the saddest Emmet had ever seen. It was difficult to have to tell him of the rumors around town about his beloved wife Betty. “I’m sorry, so sorry Clarence but it’s some guy I never seen before. He was bragging it up in the pool hall last week. I got the idea that he was from over Abbotsford way but I can’t say for sure.” He looked at his friend more deeply now. Watched the tears well up in his eyes as he shook his head like he was trying to shake out what he had just heard and make it go away. “I felt you aught ta know.”
There were several moments of pained silence as Clarence listened to the sound of his best friend’s heart breaking. Then he slowly got up and stood over him. He put his hand on his friends shoulder saying “If there is anything I can do….” leaving the sentence trailing off at the end. Clarence shook his head again and continued to do so as Emmet walked out of the back room door and quietly shut it behind him.
It was several weeks later that Emmet’s wife Kate was trying her hardest to comfort Betty, Clarence’s wife. “I am so sorry to be the one telling you this, but I figured it was best coming from me than anyone else and if it had been anyone but Emmet telling me about this I would not have believed it myself.
” I love him so much” Betty sobbed. “He has never treated me any differently than the day we were married. I have never doubted his love. I don’t understand…. HOW? WHEN?? I can’;t believe he would ever do this to me.”
“Emmet told me he had been missing bowling for weeks now and asked him about it. He said that Clarence just mumbled something and walked away. The he told me he heard from someone that they thought they had seen Clarence over in Newholm at a bar there a couple weeks ago sitting in the back with a woman who did not look like you, so Emmet drove out to check it out this last Thursday. And sure enough there he was all snuggled up in a booth with her. I don’t know what else to tell you Betty. I am just so sorry. Please, I am here if you need me.”
That night at dinner Kate told Emmet about the conversation that had transpired earlier in the day. Emmet sat silent, moving his fork over and around his mashed potatoes but not taking a bite. He did not once look up. “Eat your potatoes dear before they get cold.” She pushed herself away from the table and walked to the sink with her plate in hand. Standing there gazing out at the darkening sky she felt an intense pity for her dear friend and started to cry.
“Sush up woman” Emmet said sternly. “Life happens. There’s nothing you or me can do about it.” At which point he got up so abruptly his chair fell over. He stormed out of the room leaving it where it fell and a full plate of food to get cold.
Months went by. Clarence’s sadness grew to rage at his wife’s betrayal. Her hurt festered and poisoning her thinking as she thought of his. The rest of the community had no idea how bad things had gotten between them. They kept to themselves. Then one evening a loud knock shook the front door. Not expecting visitors Betty jumped up from the sofa and peered through the curtain on the sidelight. Rushing back to the living room she whispered loud enough for him to hear,
“Emmet, There’s a police constable at the door.”
Emmet rose from the sofa, squared his shoulders and opened the door.
“Good evening Sir” the squarely built man in uniform said. “I understand you and your wife are friends of Clarence and Betty Roberts.”
“Yes we are. Is there a problem?”
“They have been reported missing by Mrs. Roberts’s mother. She said they were due for a visit 2 days ago and never turned up or called her. She has not been able to get an answer on their home phone so called us.”
Kate gasped behind him and Emmet turned and gave her a stern look. She walked back down the hall to the kitchen and waited for him at the table.
“I went to their home and his car is shut away in the garage but I got no answer at the door.” The officer continued. “Have you spoken to either of them recently?”
“No, I am afraid I have not”, Emmet answered. “I just assumed they had taken a weekend trip” Well it would seem not” the officer answered. “Please, if you think of anything don’t hesitate to call us. Thank you for your time and good night sir.”
Emmet closed the door and watched through the sidelight as the officer walked down the lane and over to the next house on the block. Moving away only when the officer looked back at the house.

That was about 50 years ago and it had been a long time since he had even thought about Clarence and Betty…Until today.
Emmet reread the line on the coffee stained paper before him.
They were found locked in an embrace.
The story would be the talk around town for days afterwards. Everyone would speculate. How sad, people would think. Sad and romantic. Such love and devotion. And thinking that in their final minutes they held tight onto each other, each trying to comfort the other. Not allowing the other to die alone. Locked in an embrace, going into death together and remaining in that embrace underwater for 50 years.

Betty had gone shopping and Emmet headed to his friends. He put a thought to them. He figured that maybe it was a good idea that they have some time for them, away from everything even if just for the evening. How about a row in Clarence’s old wooden boat out on Drag Lake he suggested. A favorite lovers location from the time they were all back in High School. Secluded and well off the beaten path. Maybe bring back some wonderful memories. Heck he even offered to drive them out. “Take a romantic ride” he said to them both. “Maybe things are not as bad as they seem. Enjoy the night, listen to the call of the loons, relax. Clear your head and remember how much you love each other. I will drive you out in my truck with your rowboat in the back and just have a snooze and wait for you on shore” Trust me he said.
So Betty and Clarence loaded themselves into the truck while Emmet retrevied a couple of Cokes out of the cooler in the back of the truck. They all drove in silence the 46 miles to the lake and as Clarence and Emmet unloaded the boat Emmet quietly said to his friend.
“I saw it for myself Clarence, your wife in the back seat of that man’s car, humping like a teenagers."
As his friend slid the wooden rowboat into the murky lake Emmet walked to Betty and gave her a hand out of the cab of the truck. He whispered so only she could hear,
“I know what I know and I am sure she meant nothing to him, but that woman did things to him any man would find hard to resist, I can hardly blame him.”
Emmet gave the boat a shove with his foot and sent it gliding out into the water. The knock of wood against wood as the oars banged against the side of the boat echoed across the still lake and off the shores along the way. Clarence and Betty sat facing each other in dead silence until he picked up the oars and started to row away from shore.
Emmet turned and went and sat in his truck for an hour or so then going to the tool box under his seat he removed the binoculars and wandered back to the shore. In the distance he could hear their voices rise. And without hearing the words he could tell they were arguing. He watch, as way out on the lake now they both stood wrestling, arms wrapped around eachother as they and thrashed back and forth, the boat rocking wildly. A loud splash resonated across the lake and Emmet watched for some time waiting to see if anyone surfaced. Another hour passed without any sound other than the lonely call of a loon.
Emmet then got back in his truck and drove the 46 miles home.
He opened the door and put his bowling bag in the hall closet. Kate watched as he walked to the kitchen and she got up and poured him a beer.

Glancing up from the paper he thought to himself. “50 years is a long time… there should be no evidence by now. The sedative he had laced their cokes with would no longer be present. Why would they even test them for anything? It was 50 years. It had already been determined as an accidental drowning and they had been buried. The crack he forced between the boards of the boat would be swollen shut. Heck, they never even found the boat; possibly it just drifted away, washed up on shore somewhere and rotted away. All he knew was that one way or another they were both gonna die out there, He figured that one would be murdered and and the would pass out in the sinking boat and drown.
Emmet sat and reflected on a job well done until he heard the sound of his wife coming back around to the front of the house. He got up and walked to the open window as his wife walked past the car again.
“Jesus Kate,will you keep the fuck away from Angela, you’ll get dirt all over her

True to his word Clarence had left the 1956 Buick Centurion to Emmet.
Credit is due to K. Husley for this amazing photo of this car. It was the only photo I found that did justice to the lines of this vehicle.
Maybe I am wierd but I think its beautiful.