Wednesday, December 06, 2006

eleven

Wiping his just washed hands together, Gordon emerged from The Rolling Bears tidy restroom and saw Melinda gazing out at the street and shaking her head in apparent disbelief.

“Did I miss something?” he asked, approaching her where she stood on the customer side of the counter, one hand atop the register.

“Some insane woman,” she said, still shaking her head and regarding the street, “just went speeding like the proverbial bat out of hell down the wrong side of the street.” She looked at him. “I thought for a second she was gonna’ end up in here!”

Gordon peered out at the street, now calm and empty. “You think it’s safe for me to leave?”

“You going home?” She asked.

He nodded through the glass door in the direction from which he’d come. “Yeah.”

“Well,” she said, “that’s the way she was going. If she continued at that speed, she’s either piled it up somewhere by now or gotten well out of town.”

They stood silently for a moment, considering. “Well,” said Gordon, “I guess I’ll take my chances.”

Melinda placed a hand on his shoulder and locked her eyes on his. “You’ll be OK,” she said, suddenly serious. “Just be careful.”

Gordon returned her steady, earnest gaze, feeling that she was referring with her admonition to something more than a mere walk home. “Always,” he replied, the usual flippant confidence that might have informed such a riposte deflated by the sense of foreboding, vague though it was, that her words had evoked.

“You know that I mean it, don’t you?” she asked, gripping his shoulder now. “About being careful, I mean?”

Gordon nodded. “Yeah,” he said, a bit shaken by her intensity. “And I hope you’re serious about me being all right, too.”

He hoped she might laugh, or at least smile, but she did neither. “Yeah,” she said, nodding her head, “I think you will be. Just be careful.”

“Listen, Mel,” exclaimed Gordon, unable to stand the vague intimations of menace any longer, “what the hell are you talking about?”

She gazed at him blankly for a moment, then blinked her eyes. “I wish I could tell you, Gord.” She shook her head. “Just one of my feelings, you know?”

One of Melinda’s “feelings” meant vague intimations, shadowed glimpses of indefinite possibilities, a 50/70 chance that something specific, if unspecified, might transpire.

“Uh huh,” he said. “Like the feeling that I’d be in earlier than usual today?”

“Like that,” she agreed, “only stronger and less. . .specific.”

Gordon sighed, a sudden sinking feeling taking the few high spirits he had fluttering about inside him straight down to the murky basement of his heart. “OK,” he said. “Anything at all that I might look out for?”

Melinda closed her eyes a moment, a small frown curling her lips. “No,” she said, “just darkness.” She opened her eyes, but the frown remained. “And something, possibly unpleasant, coming out of the darkness.”

Gordon’s already subterranean spirits sank farther still. When Melinda leaned forward and placed a shining kiss on his cheek, they rallied and ascended slightly, rising toward the spot where the kiss shone on his face. “And also,” she continued, “that you’re gonna’ be OK, maybe even better than OK, whatever happens.”

“Better than OK?” he mused, “that would be an improvement.”

Melinda laughed. “Really,” she said, “remember that whatever happens, you’ll be better for it.”

“That’s reassuring.” Gordon offered her a pale smile. “Assuming you’re not bullshitting me about that last bit.”

He knew she wouldn’t and wasn’t, and Melinda, with a dramatic roll of her eyes, illustrated that she was aware of this. “I expect to see you in here next weekend,” she said.

Ironically, she was not so confident, or truthful, about this last bit as she had been about all the rest. Though it was not her nature to deceive, she let it stand because the firm date seemed to offer Gordon something that he needed at that particular moment. Something tangible to move toward, past the fear she had stirred into slithering life inside him.

As it transpired, many weeks passed before they saw one another again. When they did meet once more, Gordon would find himself pleased to report that not only was he all right, he was a better and stronger person.



R. Cody '06

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Distractions, like the months between this post and the last, come and go. The Blue Dog Journal remains.

Part eleven coming soon.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006

ten

The Rolling Bear Café served, Gordon was sure, the finest pancakes in California. Possibly, the best in all of North America. The entire western hemisphere, perhaps. It was this enthusiasm which led him more Saturdays than not to the popular café on the respective corners of Bonner Ave. and Pineyoak Street – even these past few weeks, even though it was this very place where Ginny and Rebecca had met. The younger of the two, Rebecca, had been waitressing at the café for a few days before Ginny showed up one afternoon for lunch. After that, Rebecca offered Ginny much more than was on the menu, and Ginny in turn tipped Rebecca straight from the heart of love. Rebecca ended up quitting her job at the café the same day that Ginny left him.

“Gordon Alan Pruitt, I had a feeling I’d be seeing you earlier than usual today!” Melinda Barbado, proprietor of The Rolling Bear for fourteen of its thirty-six year history, knew not only the habits but the full names of her regulars, as well as many of the less frequent locals and most of the out-of-towners and passers through in from the road for a quick bite. It was, as her kid sister Belinda said, a “psychic thing”.

Melinda served breakfast at The Rolling Bear between the hours of seven and eleven o’ clock a.m, (everyday except Sunday). Most Saturday mornings, Gordon was ordering his pancakes at just about 10:58. She’d been thinking about him and Ginny and Rebecca – but mostly about him for some reason - this morning when she woke up. As she’d already indicated, she had a feeling about him today.

“Why am I not surprised?” said Gordon, smiling as the café door sighed shut behind him.

“Because you know me too well,” Melinda replied. “Or, at least, well enough.” She stepped from behind the counter and stretched her long limbs. “Now,” she continued at the tail end of a contagious yawn, “are you gonna’ surprise me with an order of something besides your usual this bright and early July morning?”

Catching her yawn and returning it through his lightly curled fist, Gordon shook his head. “Nah,” he said, making his way across the empty café to his accustomed place beside the jukebox (kept unplugged by Melinda, most days, until the lunch menu was circulating). “Just the same old lighter than air pancakes please, Mel. And a glass of milk?”

She smiled. “You got it.”

And so he did just a few minutes later. They were, as always, delicious. Better even than last week, perhaps, fluffier and richer in flavor – not necessarily an objective fact concerning any actual quality of the food itself, but a matter of personal experience on Gordon’s part and therefore, as he viewed it, a possible indication that the pall he had been living under since Ginny left him was thinning. Or, at least, that it was capable of thinning.

In any case, it was after Gordon finished his breakfast that things really got interesting.




- Richard Cody, 2006 -