This is roughly pg 24-30. ha ha. enjoy.
The park in Seattle was pretty; wettish, but pretty. On again, off again rain gave way to doubts about whether camp would set up. Our girl played solitaire repeatedly, marking in a notepad her wins with a line, losses with a zero. Pages and pages of lines and zeros filled the space, seeming to mean something. Perhaps it did to her. A shadow crossed over the cards, moving leaves; where there was the lack of shadow brightening the cards from the overcast darkness to white in the middle, dirty fingerprints and gray around the edges. Everything gets put out and seen in the light. Sun?
Lisette hopped up, looking out the window. Shea was piling wood on a fire, a good sign. Jack had wandered a bit into the woods. He sat away, and was often distanced slightly from the group, sometimes talking to himself, or maybe God, but she wasn’t sure which or who. How could someone be so preoccupied with a God that doesn’t do anything? There was never an answer to any question she asked that sounded Godly…It was always her, she found upon reasoning. Yet, her friend spent hours talking to this invisible being and had an answer for everything. Was he hearing something she wasn’t? She found her shoes and then found her friend, lying stomach down on the ground, scratching, digging a bare spot of earth.
“Oh! Hello,” Jack smiled, a ring of dirt around his mouth.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m grazing,” he said, nonchalantly. She looked over, seeing piles of weeds and grass, their roots tangled in grand clumps of dirt. Jack raked one gigantic section into his mouth, still scratching, his fingernails a black accessory to the makeup on his face.
“Yes. You know, herbivores do it all the time.”
“Yes, I know. Would you like me to wash that grass for you? Or maybe I could just shake it off,” Lisette reached for a clump, shaking it slightly.
“No. No, I eat the dirt too,”
“Sure. You know, people are so afraid of germs nowadays, that they are over-washing. People were actually healthier before all this hand washing business, you know?”
“I don’t wash my hands all that much…”
“Good, that’s good. You know, more and more people are getting bowel diseases from lack of dirt, a large percentage of folks are having to drink microscopic parasites…literally maggots, just to fix the situation.”
“Is that true?”
“It’s absolutely true.”
“I hope I never have to do that,” the world was a confusing place. “I spend a lot of time around dirt, though,”
“Yeah, I think you’ll be just fine,” Jack sat up with his hands full of green, a clown-faced ring around his smile. She couldn’t help but smile back at his dirty face and teeth.
“I think you will be too, Jack.”
Walking back, she thought about what they would be having for lunch themselves. Her father was tying a hammock. He swung around at her footsteps. “Here, child!” Lifting her on the hammock, he sent it swinging.
“Papa, I’m a little worried about Jack.” The Gypsy King lit his cigar and stopped the hammock.
“How so, girl?”
“Oh. Well, that’s strange but it won’t kill him. Nothing to worry about.”
“Maybe he’s hungry?”
“Oh. Are you hungry?”
“A bit so…Do we still have peanut butter?”
“We are having better than peanut butter today, child. And I think I know exactly what might help your friend, too. He just needs a mission!”
“A mission?” The Gypsy King laughed, and was already walking off, going to remedy all her morning woes.
Dirt Eater on a Mission
Eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich, she watched the morning routine of her fellow campers. Tammy talked to Sam and Martha, frying bacon on a little cook stove. The Gypsy King was setting up a rig to cook on. Shea bagged his laundry, and as she watched him, she made a mental note to ask if she could through a few things in.
Grandmere sat with her knitting, and Zeph with her smokes. She didn’t see Hugo, but he was probably somewhere with that nasty rabbit. Bassam approached, rubbing lotion in his hands. He was always so meticulously clean, this man. Clean and beautiful.
“May I?” He held the bottle of lotion in her direction, and she nodded. His fingers ran over her hands, in between her own fingers, squeezing and rubbing. She could imagine his lips on hers, but he’d never dared or even implied.
“Feet?” Entranced, Lisette thought he could do her hands, her feet, the whole shebang, but she said nothing, only raising her foot within his reach. The lotion, warmed in his hands, was slick across her arches, and he tugged and squeezed the foot with both hands. Those same hands ran up her ankle and leg, stopping at the knee. On to the next, and as a wave of warmth rose up her neck, she wondered if Papa Michel was watching. He was…but we’ll get to that later.
“Ca va bien?“ and just like that it was over. He walked away and picking up a guitar, started to tune it. Zepherine lit another smoke and stuck it into Bassam’s mouth, sitting beside him. Clearly, it was time for a walk.
“Ah, he’s on his mission!”
“What kind of mission?”
“The secret kind. No, he’s in the woods, I think. Tell him to hurry if you must go after him.” The Gypsy King liked everyone and everything on time. Bassam watched as she took to the woods.
Sitting in a clearing, Jack squatted silently. For a moment, she assumes he was taking care of business, and turned away, “I’m sorry,” she said.
“No, it’s okay, come over, just be real quiet.” Tiptoeing, then squatting beside him, the two of them sat in silence. How long does someone have to be patient in order to actually have the quality ‘Patience?’ Who determines that? Sitting, sitting.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m on a mission,”
“A secret mission, probably?”
“Oh, no, your dad wants me to find a chicken or something for the grill.”
“Yes, and I found it,”
“Better, a turkey.”
“Oh! Wow, where?”
“There look,” he pointed out towards a mostly bare field. All she saw was a tree stump.
“Look, right there,” pointing again.
“I think that’s a tree stump,”
“No, I saw it move earlier,”
“Oh,” looking again, she was sure…it was a tree stump. “How long have you been watching this turkey?”
“About a half hour,”
“Well, maybe it died,”
“No, I believe it’s sleeping now. I’m just trying to figure a way to sneak up on it without it running away.”
“I’m pretty quiet, you know. Why don’t you let me sneak up and grab it, then when I have it, you run over and carry it back?”
“I think that sounds like a good plan.” So Jack let Lisette get up from her watchful squat, and she took a few careful steps. After those, she didn’t really feel the need to be that careful, or quiet, for that matter. There would be no chase, and she suspected the tree stump wouldn’t put up much of a fight. She turned to look over at Jack as she approached the thing, and saw he was mouthing the word ‘slowly.’
“Slowly, alright,” a few feet away, she jumped over to the tree stump, grabbing it with both arms. It this what they meant when people called the hippies ‘Tree Huggers?’ Jack quickly ran over, perplexed by what he saw.
“What happened?” Laughing, Lisette didn’t hesitate with her ‘I told you so’s.’
“It’s a tree stump! I told you it was a tree stump!”
“But it wasn’t a tree stump. I saw it move.”
“I’m afraid I’ve never seen a turkey turn into a tree stump before, Jack.”
“God must’ve done it. God is the only one who could turn a turkey into a tree stump.” Of course. “What are we going to do now? I spent all afternoon trying to catch that turkey, your dad is going to kill me.”
“He’s not going to kill you! Maybe we can head over into town and get one of those giant fish!”
“Not so insane, I like fish.”
“Well, yeah, but he’s setting up to roast it. Bassam always gets a goat or chicken or something.”
“Bassam doesn’t always get a goat,” then, there was silence.
“I’ll find something. You go on back and tell them I’m coming. Hey, let’s keep the turkey between you and me, huh?”
“Sure thing,” her feet walked back with the light effortless ways of a child, perhaps for the last time.
It's sorta funny rereading something you've written, and finding all the little nuances of your life over and over. Names and faces of friends that you'd stick in places they'd never go.
I once thought I saw a turkey outside the window while running on the treadmill, but it turned out to be a tree stump. The childlike but highly metaphysical qualities of my cousin Jack, who used to live with us. We'd play rummy hours on end, keeping pages and pages of score cards. He died in his twenties of a gunshot wound, perhaps self inflicted, and I went on to keep score of my solo card playing, only with lines and O's. Lines were good; pages with mostly lines were days that would surely be filled with luck. My writing continues to evolve & I don't know what of this old me stuff. but the memories are cool.
much love, kat