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Archive for March, 2019

Old Love

As wishes turn into kisses,

And longings turn softly to sighs,

The lust in me stirs

and remembers

How tender, how sweet were our cries.

 

Old lips still touch and linger.

Old eyes meet, still shimmer and shine,

That old earth still stops—

and waits in its turning,

While old hands and old hearts intertwine.

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Isetta

My husband Jim was big on toys.  He had nine guns, and at the time in question, three cars.  Had we been affluent, that might have played, but we were quite poor.  On that day Jim insisted that I should take the Isetta in to town since the Fairlane’s transmission was down, and he must of course have the truck.

Why did he own an Isetta?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure even he knew.  It was a fraught vehicle.  To get in, you must swing open the entire front of the enclosure, a door that pivoted on hinges that lined up out of any perpendicularity with gravity, which made the opening and closing of it a problem.  Whatever.  Once in and seated, the task was to motivate it to proceed.  How to do anything was a question since everything was unusual—located in a unique and ambiguous place.

I figured out how to get it started, how to put it into and out of gear, and finally how to propel it down the road.  The days’ business in town at long last accomplished, I found the weird little automobile, easy to locate, since it stuck out like a blue and throbbing thumb perched on wheels and waiting in the parking lot.  Daylight Savings Time had ignored the pleas of dairy-farmers but was not yet in place, so it was imperative that I locate the running lights before attempting the drive home.  There was no button, switch, lever, or any actuator at all that might initiate illumination of progress for this very unique conveyance.  I looked simply everywhere.  By the time I was done searching, it was dead dark.

I had four miles to go before I could park this problem and call it a day.  Home seemed a long way off.  There was nothing for it but to go.  The engine purred.  Inside the vehicle, dash lights offered a green illumination of whatever wanted to be reflected within.  That was me and my somewhat sickly face, as I piloted the odd little cube of painted metal out of the lot and onto the road.

There was no moon, but I could make out road-signs due to their bright paint.  It felt strange to move down the asphalt, engine purring, assuming invisibility.  No need to fear the fuzz.  They couldn’t see me.  I was a phantom.   In town, the streetlights made all the difference.  As I pulled onto the highway, I decided to wait for a long space between cars before I committed to being there at all.  The half mile on US Route 50E passed quickly, and I was soon enough off onto Pullman Road where traffic was occasional.  County Road 74 was a tiny thoroughfare to Pullman, West Virginia, that used to be called “the nine-foot pavement,” which was a good descriptor.  When it moved from being a dirt and gravel road to being paved, all the County would allow it was nine miserable feet of width.  It was better than mud, but not much.  Sometime in the last decade, Ritchie County had given in to bitching, moaning, and complaining to the extent that the byway was widened to twelve feet.  I was rolling down it.  Meeting anyone at all required that somebody give way.  I was more than ready to move off the pavement should I meet oncoming.  How could approaching traffic possibly give way to what it could not see?

Obidiah Johnson was a drinker.  Everybody knew that.  His biggest aim in life was to put off getting sober.  That would be a problem.  Nobody knew what he was trying to forget, but it must have been a doosey.  He had, long ago, lost any permission to drive a vehicle, whether highway licensed or farm-to-market.  His daily trip into town was to get liquored up.  Everybody knew that as well.  It was only after his desired state of inebriation was achieved that he would slide off his stool and slither away into the night toward home.

The evening in question was not an exception.  He slogged his way down the highway, taking a muddy shortcut toward 74 where he would enjoy the pleasure of pavement all the way to his warm bed and oblivion.  Once on the concrete, he smiled, stretched arms and vertebrae, and looked up for the moon.  There wasn’t any.  “Oh, well.”  He proceeded to weave his way down the road toward the pleasures of home.

That was when our paths nearly crossed.  I didn’t see him, except to watch a slight green tinged body of light arc away from what might have been my right fender, if I had had one, and disappear into the ditch.  I did not Slow;  I did not Stop;  I did not pass Go; And I did not Collect anything but a lump in my throat.  Strange enough, I finally made it to Home without collecting anything at all—even a Ticket.

The next day Obidiah slogged in to his daily round at Slim’s Tavern.  It was just about the same as every other day, but there was something different.  He had a quickness to his step that wasn’t a feature of his usual gait.  When he found his accustomed stool waiting just for him, he claimed it with a flourish of authority.  He had something to add to the conversation.

“Gimmie my usual, “ he intoned.  A note of authority had crept into his usual whine.  When his pint arrived, he sucked a satisfying slurp of foam from around the lip of the mug, swallowed,  and pulled in a satisfying breath asserting,  “You’ll never guess what happened to me last night.  I was attacked by a spaceship.”

Slim and the usual crew all did a double-take.  Had Obadiah flipped his lid?  They gathered round, wondering what this could be about.  He wasn’t in a hurry and spent some time thinking as he alternated between raising his pint, sipping, then settling it carefully onto the napkin,  turning it round and round while he looked far and far away.

With a bit of encouragement, Obadiah finally gave up his story:

“I was a’comin’ home last night, when what did I see, but a spaceship a’follerin’ after me.  It went behind, stayin’ close in case I got away.  I hurried, but oh it was fast.  It kept a’gittin’ closer, ‘til it fair caught up t’ me.  It was close.  Close as you to me.  I could see them-there critters inside.  Green they wuz, with eyes like you an me an a nose an a mouth to boot.  I was a’skeered o’ dyin’.  I jumped—near like unto I wuz a frog.  It tried t’ git me, but it missed.  I jumped fast—faster than it could hope to grab a’hold a’ me.  It missed me, and I landed in the swale down where Landen’s cow-path meets up with ol’ man Harper’s field o’ sweet corn.  I hid for a bit, waitin’ lest they git out and hunt me up and do who-knows-what ta who.  I don’t know what they wuz about, but I never let em git me.  I heert the sound of the ship a’goin’ away.  Quiet-like.  Jes’ a low growl.  Mad that it missed me and lookin’ for somthinorother somethin’ to grab onto and do whatever it was a’wantin’ to do to it.”

The group at Slim’s was accommodating and appreciative of Obadiah’s reporting.  They spent most of that night, and a bit of the next, asking him questions, listening to his opinions, and hanging on his suppositions as if they carried the weight of earth’s gravity newly ripped from the talons of celestial marauders.

I heard about the alien invasion next time I attended the Farm Women’s Club monthly meeting, and was amazed along with everybody else.  I had been planning to complain to the other long-suffering wives about my husband’s penchant for collecting multiple vehicles, but decided to let well-enough alone.  How could I spoil Obadiah’s first, last, and only chance to be famous?

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