Interracial Relationships

17 Aug

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Interracial Relationships

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

I am an older white male (mid-sixties) who lives in the foothills of North Carolina, the United States.

I am a college graduate.

I am a writer. Poetry, short stories, plays, and a would-be novelist.

I play the guitar and harmonica.

I am an amateur actor — a thespian.

I like to think I can sing.

I like to draw cartoons and silly things.

I have a sense of humor — and am an advocate of puns.

I have five children and three grandchildren.

I am, ostensibly, retired (depending on whom you ask).

I live in an apartment complex.

I drive a Honda hybrid.

I have a drop-kick dog.

I’m a Duke basketball fan.

I’m overweight, and have launched a walking program to get rid of my barrel belly.

I’m balding, and sport a scraggly white beard.

I’m law-abiding, have served on a jury, and hate taxes.

I believe I am responsible for my own actions, and the consequences of those actions.

I believe in God, but am not a churchgoer.

I am heterosexual.

I am single.

If you are a non white, is there anything above that you can relate to? Is there anything that would deter you from at least considering a friendship with me?

I’ve just started a friendship via Facebook and email and WordPress with an African resident of Togo.

David lives in the capital city of Lomé, where he is pursuing writing, acting and comedy. He speaks French. That’s about all I know of him at this juncture.

He was the 800th visitor to my writing website, and I decided to send him a copy of Through the Glass Darkly.

I am looking with great anticipation learning more about David’s life, and sharing mine with him.

David, by the way, is black.

So why, I asked myself today, is it that I can make friends with a black man halfway across the world, and yet have virtually no black friends here in the neighborhood, city or state where I live?

Yes, I’m reclusive.

Yes, there are stereotypes of various ethnicities and cultures that I wrestle with.

If you are a non white, help me dialogue about just what it is I’m missing. I honestly don’t want to go down the last quarter or less of my life without closing what I think is a serious gap in my life.

When I lived in New York City years ago, I became a professional Scouter for the Greater New York Boy Scout Council.

In that capacity, my closest peer friends were from Puerto Rico and the Philippines. My area coordinator was black, and my council chief executive was black.

The latter two were distanced from me due, I think, to rank. Still . . .

The guy from Puerto Rico and I got along famously. He was always asking me to say something in Southern (I’m from North Carolina), and he would belly-laugh at my witticisms. Juan, from the Philippines, was a bit more reserved, but still approachable.

Of course, NYC is more metropolitan — more of a jumble of races and culture (the old metaphor was ‘fruit salad’).

It seems to me that the distance between races — in spite of all the laws and legislation that the government has enacted — has not decreased, but increased.

And I think sadly on King’s “I have a dream” speech, and wonder have I stepped on its potential to become reality through my own life?

In a course I took to become certified as a lateral entry teacher, one course instructor flatly said that all whites are prejudiced and bigoted.

I can’t argue with her, as I would invariably fall into those positions by virtue of disagreeing with her.

Whites wonder will they ever be released from the curse of being descendants of the South, where slavery and Jim Crow and segregation have occupied most of the history of southern blacks?

We wonder at the anger we sense from our black neighbors. The distrust. Perhaps it’s merely guilt on our part, and the anger isn’t there at all. I don’t think so.

But, you tell me.

The roots of racism and bigotry are long and deep. Are they too deeply rooted to ever rot and disintegrate?

Please, tell me what you think?

My dad thought that this separation would exist until the whole of mankind is one indiscernible color and race. A uni-race.

You have to then think that any difference is bad, and uni-this and uni-that — gender and sexuality and political affiliations — are the ultimate dystopic answer to all difference dilemmas.

But, please tell me.

Why is it I can establish contact more easily with a black man from Togo than I can a black man from across the street?

Update on Stinky and the Night Mare project

12 Aug

For the latest on how the Stinky and the Night Mare project is going, click here.

RIP, Robin

12 Aug

RIP, Robin

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

We have this tendency in the US to slam on our brakes over newsworthy events that rise to headlines and main stories in the media.

Babies left in hot cars by careless parents, guardians or caregivers.

Never again, we say, as if the mere thought or statement will stop it from happening again.

Campus shootings, or bullet rampages in public arenas where random lives are lost to those with severe emotional problems.

Never again, we say.

Police brutality, or profiling that results in a body on the street in the heat of the moment.

Never again, we say.

And Robin Williams adds his name to a growing list of celebrities for whom life has lost its allure and satisfaction. A victim of his own quiet containment of things too overpowering for him to face by himself?

Is this kaleidoscope of tragedy the makeup of daily life?

It’s certainly part of it. And, it has been going on since the beginning of time.

The difference?

Facebook. Twitter. Cable and satellite TV and a myriad of other electronic conveyances of events that, one hundred years ago (perhaps less) would have taken quite some time to travel the globe.

Here’s a small listing of those who attained fame of some sorts as a result of their profession/work/positions (no earlier than the 20th century) and then killed themself, compliments of Wikipedia:

  • Charles Boyer, famous French actor
    Freddy Prinze, comedian
    Earnest Hemingway, author
    Kurt Cobain, musician
    Don Cornelius, emcee of the television dance show, Soul Train
    Richard Farnsworth, actor
    Abbie Hoffman, political and social activist
    Jeret Peterson, American skier, Olympic medalist
    Junior Seau, NFL football player
    Bob Welch, musician and former member of Fleetwood Mac
    Lee Thompson Young, actor

We use words like shocking, and stunning. The world seems to swoon in unison over suicides, untimely deaths (that is a matter of debate), tragic events and accidents and more.

What ends up headlines is but a small percentage of the total of such happenings across the world in remote and isolated places, that will never get this kind of attention — or reaction, for that matter.

I personally enjoyed the work of Robin Williams, as did most who saw him perform. He was a rarity in talent and comic explosiveness.

But I didn’t know him. I didn’t know anything beyond his work, a handful of interviews on late-night television or the various entertainment television magazines.

He was younger than I by just shy of two years. That much hit close to home.

Yes, it’s news.

But, I don’t know what to do with it. Williams was here, and now he’s gone. What am I to do with that?

Perhaps — just perhaps — we want everyone to go on and live forever. We want our stars and those we admire to have never-ending fairytale lives because we certainly don’t. Not at our level.

So when a person like Robin Williams seems to throw it all away — the fame and the money and the talent — that we don’t have, we wonder at a personal level how can that be?

For the curious, here’s a link to that list of famous people who committed suicide. Most I’ve never heard of. Some, like Cleopatra and Hannibal and Socrates (albeit this one is debatable), happened long before the advent of instant, or even quasi-instant, communications.

Wonder how their contemporaries reacted? Wonder if the forums were filled with people who were shocked and surprised.

Or, did life just go on?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicides

For a related poem, Life is Good, Death is Bad

 

App Man, or, Gordo the virtual hero – Chapter 9

11 Aug

App Man

or,

Gordo, the virtual hero

by L. Stewart Marsden

Chapter 9: A Call in the Night

 

Marilyn interrupted Gordon as he was running through various factors that could impact the flight of the mysterious helicopter. It was now closing in on twenty-four hours since the kidnap. He knew as time ticked off whatever trail might be out there would grow too cold to track.

“Gordon.”

“Not now, Marilyn — I’ve got two locations where the helicopter might have landed when it took off, and am narrowing in on one more.”

“There’s a call for you.”

“Take a message!”

“It’s the kidnappers.”

She said it calmly — in an even tone. It was almost like saying the mail had come — with that lack of enthusiasm.

“Why the hell didn’t you say so in the first place? Send it now!”

“Sending.”

“Good evening, Mr. Feltzer. How is your head?”

“Better, no thanks to you. You the one that hit me?”

“Oh, no. I wasn’t there at all. I was where I am now. Where Ms. Walters is at this very moment.”

“Let me speak to her!”

“In due time. And, by the way, time is at a premium, and is something you don’t have very much of.”

“If you — “

“Relax Mr. Feltzer. Mind if I call you Gordon? Gordon, there’s little to no chance of our ever meeting face-to-face. The only way that would happen is if I choose it. And I’m not going to put myself in any position of jeopardy — which is exactly the position you happen to be occupying at the moment.”

“What do you want?”

“Oh, so many things, Gordon. Peace in the world . . . longer life . . . no more famine . . . You see I’m rather a bit of an altruistic sort — don’t you think?”

“No. I don’t think.”

“Well you should be thinking. Especially of your predicament.”

“What do you want?”

“Well — I want it all! Doesn’t everybody?”

“Fat chance that happening.”

“Oh, I’m glad you agree with me: a very fat chance, indeed. Look, Gordon, look at the big picture. In fairness, here you are — one lone person with so much wealth! How much is enough, Gordon? What’s your take on how much one needs to live in this world? Ten million? Ten billion?

“You don’t even have anyone to share your great possessions with. Well, other than your mother and brother. But, you never really liked them anyway, right? And what you’ve given them is basically table scraps. So, no — there’s no one.”

“You think I’m going to give you everything I have?”

“You’re right. That’s ludicrous. Especially in exchange for someone you barely know. And why should you? I suppose I should be content with a few million for her life. I mean, why not? I’d be that much richer. And you? Why you could make that up in a nano second. You wouldn’t even feel a pinch.

“But a few million won’t cut it for me, Gordon. I’m like you. I want more. I want all of what you’ve got. See, it’s all wasted on you. What do you do with it? Shangri-La? Marilyn? That foundation of yours? What the hell is that all about, anyway? That is the extent of your life, Mr. App Man! Mr. Superhero!”

“You’re nuts.”

“Oh yes. No doubt. But I would never — ever — deny giving whatever I had — no matter how much — for someone who could potentially give me something money could not touch. Right! A real relationship! Not simulated. Not rife with incredible graphics and sappy substitutes for earth, wind and fire! I love that group, by the way.

“Oh, what a perfect segue to let you talk to her. I’ll put her on, and you can tell her why she’s not worth saving. Why you would just as soon maintain your fantasy existence in a world of simulation and virtual replications.”

“Hey!”

The line clicked, and clicked once more. There was an uncomfortable pause.

“Gordon?”

“Alyssa, are you okay?”

“I wouldn’t exactly use the word okay.”

“God, I’m so glad to hear your voice! Are you being treated okay?”

“They told me you were dead. I blanked out in the helicopter when the gunman hit me. I woke up here.”

“Where’s here — can you tell me?”

A voice broke into the conversation.

“Ah! Ah! Ah! No fair! Let’s keep the discussion focused on what’s important, and where Ms. Walters is, is not important. Not in the long scheme of things.”

“Gordon, I’m okay — really. Whatever they’re asking, you don’t have to do it.”

“What? Whaddaya mean, Alyssa? I’m coming after you — believe me! I’m not going to let anything happen to you if I can help it!”

“Ah, Gordon,” said the voice, “I perceive you might be coming around to reason. You see, Ms. Walters, Gordon here is a bit reluctant to part with his wealth to ensure your safety.”

“You’re an ass!” she said.

“Tch! Tch! Sticks and stones. I think that’s about all for now. We’ll be hanging up now, Gordon. Say good night, Ms. Walters.”

“Gordon!” A click on his iLens, and the contact was ended.

“Alyssa! Alyssa!”

“Auntie Em! Auntie Em, come back! I’ll give you Auntie Em, my pretty! The hour glass is running, Gordon! You think about it — hard! Remember, at some point Alyssa is going to be discovered missing. And guess who will become the primary suspect? Why, the man she spent several days with: Mr. App Man. It would be a crying shame for your empire to crumble over circumstantial evidence.”

“Who the hell are you?” Gordon screamed in frustration.

“Ah! My favorite cue! I’ve wanted to say this forever, Gordon. I’m your worst nightmare. Wow, that was an incredible experience! So, I’ve got much to do — as I suspect you do, too. Goodbye for now. I’ll be back and we can discuss details. Oh — need I tell you let’s keep this between you and me? No police. No feds. It won’t do you any good to bring them in, anyway. But you’ll find that out. Ta-ta, Gordon.”

The connection ended.

“Marilyn!”

“I’m already on it, Gordon. Trying to trace the call, and am running voice analysis against the voice vault to see if there are any matches. It shouldn’t take too long.”

“What do you think? About the call?”

“I think someone doesn’t like you very much.”

“How did Alyssa sound to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, did she sound under stress? Real stress?”

“Ah. Now I see. Has she really been kidnapped — or is she part of the plot? I do have the background check you okay’d me to run.”

“And?”

“And — nothing you don’t already know. Except maybe for one serious relationship she was in before meeting you.”

“And?”

“Well, if you mean is there a connection, I’ll have to track down more information.”

“Do it.”

“Again, Gordon, why don’t you contact the authorities?”

“Two reasons: he said not to involve them, and I don’t want this to get out in the media.”

“Why would it?”

“It’s like my day-to-day business. The more others are involved, the less control I have. The FBI is going to want to call the shots. And, face it — I’m not exactly an ordinary victim. It’s bound to get out.”

“Why would that matter? Wouldn’t it help to have potential eyes out there? Someone might come forward with information?”

“This guy’s nuts. I can’t be sure what his triggers are, and what he’s capable of doing. I can’t risk it, Marilyn. We need to keep this air-tight. You got that?”

“I got it.”

Gordon went back to analyzing data thrown up on the screen of his iLens.

“Gordon?”

“Yes, Marilyn.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry this happened. I’m sorry your friend is in danger.”

“Thanks. It wasn’t your fault, Marilyn — right?”

“Right.”

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 11 August, 2014

App Man, or Gordo, the virtual hero – Chapter 8

8 Aug

App Man

or,

Gordo, the virtual hero

by L. Stewart Marsden

Chapter 8: A needle in the haystack

 

Gordon tore open the box containing his iLens glasses, and as if it were a fix of cocaine, put them on. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath through his nostrils.

“Ah! Now I’m back. Now I can do something! Connect to Marilyn.”

The screen scrolled red letters that read, connecting to Marilyn.

“Gordon!”

“In the saddle, Babe! We’ve got work to do. I want you to check all FAA flight plans over the last thirty-six hours from anywhere within 300 miles of Nags Head. And, I’m sending you the coordinates of the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge. I want you to hack into whatever satellites are over that area, and see if you get any GPS readings from there between the hours of ten o’clock last night and two AM this past morning.”

“Okay. Gordon, I’m confused.”

“About what, Marilyn?”

“Why aren’t you contacting the local authorities and the FBI?”

“Well, one, I don’t want the publicity. Two, the locals and the FBI can’t do anything I can’t do myself, and with a whole lot less red tape and delay . . . “

“And three?”

“It’s my chance.”

“Your chance for what?”

“To do something. To be a hero.”

“But Gordon — you are already a hero!”

“No, I’m not!”

“Look at how you’ve affected the whole world with your apps! How’s that not being a hero?”

“Look, Marilyn — you wouldn’t understand. This isn’t about apps and programming at all. Like I tell you and everyone else — hell, anyone could do what I do. There’s nothing special. But, to take my knowledge and rescue Alyssa? That would be something!”

“Like Tony Stark.”

“What? Yeah, sure. Like Stark.”

“And he became Iron Man.”

“And I’ll become App Man — like the poster. But, for real! First things first. Get me those flight plans, and see what satellite GPS records you can boost.”

“What if you’re too late?”

“I’m not too late. Alyssa was taken and I wasn’t. I think they want to use her as bait — to make me do whatever it is they want me to do. Probably want millions. Who knows? But they haven’t contacted me — unless you’re not telling me something. Have you been contacted?”

“No, Gordon — no one has contacted me.”

“Then we’re not too late. They knew I was here in Nags Head — and they must have known I was with Alyssa. Probably been tailing us for the past few days. I can dig around here and see what’s available. Oh — check out satellite imagery for Jockey’s Ridge two days ago. Look for anyone who appears to be spying on Alyssa and me when we were hang gliding.”

“You went hang gliding?”

“We did lots of stuff. C’mon, Marilyn, I need your head in the game. Get over Alyssa, will ya? This is potentially life and death stuff — and not simulated, for chrissakes!”

“Checking the satellite GPS records now. You know, Gordon, this could be a serious foe — like the Russians, or Al-Qaeda.”

“You’re right. Double-tight security then, Marilyn. No cracks, no leaks.”

“And, there’s something else you might want me to check on.”

“What’s that?”

“Her background.”

“Alyssa’s? They kidnapped her, Marilyn. They knocked her out before they knocked me out!”

“So it seems. And Sherlock appeared to have jumped to his death from a tall building.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Just that everything isn’t always as it seems, my Dear.”

“Marilyn — as far as that goes, then, you should do background checks on me — and you!”

“In every crime story I’ve heard of, the culprits are usually be found to be a lot closer to the victim than not.”

“So, you want me to believe that Alyssa has cooked up this whole scheme? That she’s behind her own kidnapping?”

“Stranger things have happened, Gordon. You should at least rule it out as a possibility.”

“Do what you want. I think you’re jealous.”

“Thank you. And, I’m not jealous. I just love you, Gordon.”

“Yeah. I know. So show me how much by helping me find Alyssa — regardless if she’s a victim or a suspect. She’s out there somewhere. And I’m going to find her and rescue her.”

“As you wish, Gordon.”

“Yeah. Doesn’t matter where you hide her, App Man is on your ass! You picked the wrong hero to mess with,” he said to himself as he scanned information popping up on the screen of his iLens glasses.

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 8 August, 2014

App Man, or, Gordo, the virtual hero – Chapter 7

5 Aug

App Man

or

Gordo, the virtual hero

by L. Stewart Marsden

Chapter 7: Sex, lies, and all that other stuff

 

Marilyn did not make a mistake.

“Hey, Marilyn!”

“Darryl, what a different kind of surprise.”

“You know you love me, Babe.”

“I believe the word is tolerate.”

“Ha! Always the razor edge wit. So, where’s Gordo?”

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

“Even to me?”

“Especially to you.”

“I’m hurt — Marilyn — hurt to the core.”

“For a moment I thought you were going to say you were hurt to the heart, but then you would need a heart for that.”

“You are on fire, girl! Say — tell me. He’s off with that gal from Portland, right?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know — the hot brunette. The pilot! She was a beta for iFit. You know exactly who I mean!”

“Oh, yes. I think I remember now.”

“I bet you remember. Man, he had the hots for her — and I don’t rightly blame him, either. How she got those walking shorts on? Um! Have mercy!”

“As women go, she was somewhat attractive. But Gordon didn’t notice. He had nothing to say about her after the trial.”

“But you did, didn’t you?”

“What’s to say? It was a trial. A virtual reality experience. It’s the only kind your brother has had since I’ve known him. Nothing to get excited about.”

“Then why did you?”

“I didn’t.”

“Then why didn’t you? I heard they’ve gotten together somewhere.”

“How could you know that?”

“Ha! I was right! And you know where, don’t you? Sure you do. You made all of his arrangements, just like always. You know, Marilyn, he once told me you were his gal Friday.”

“He didn’t! I would have known.”

“He told me in confidence. Away from all of the mics. Made me swear not to tell — especially you.”

“He did not. You’re lying.”

“He said that you are nearly the perfect woman. Said you do all he tells you without question. Says you don’t demand things other women demand of him. Says, if he wants to, he can turn you off at the end of the day.”

“Darryl! You are a lying shit!”

“My, what a foul mouth you have! The better to tell it like it is, my dear Marilyn. What did he tell you about this hottie he’s into? I bet he said there’s nothing to the relationship. That you don’t have to worry. That he’ll bring his sorry ass home to you after he has his fun. And why should he do that? I mean, just what the hell can you do other than run his life? Nothing! You are virtually nothing but a voice.”

Marilyn remained quiet.

“What if I could help you out here?”

There was a considerable pause. When she answered, it was in a tiny, breathy voice.

“How?”

“Better you didn’t know. Let’s just say that I can make it so this girl is nothing more than a passing inconvenience in your life.”

“Again — “

“And again, better you didn’t know. Wherever they are, you are not connected to him right now, are you?”

“No.”

“So you are powerless to intervene, or persuade — or any of the other contrivances you are used to pulling over Gordon. Am I right?”

“I love Gordon.”

“Yes, I know that you do. Anyone who hears you two talking knows that. It’s old news. And, it’s getting older. And pretty soon it’s going to be last year’s news, and you will be left in the dust. And this new girl in Gordon’s life is going to have you replaced — I guarantee it.”

“I love him.”

“Then, let me help you. Tell me where they are.”

Marilyn did not make a mistake.

First, she disobeyed Gordon.

And then, she lied to him.

 

Coppyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 5 August, 2014

App Man, or, Gordo, the virtual hero – Chapter 6

5 Aug

App Man

or

Gordo, the virtual hero

by L. Stewart Marsden

Chapter 6: Give me a Goody’s Headache Powder, please

 

The first thing Gordon heard was the nearby cawing of a crow somewhere above him. The second thing was a buzzing sound near his head that caused him to open his eyes.

It was a bluish-green dragonfly hovering inches from his nose. With its large bulbous eyes, the insect reminded him of a helicopter.

“Alyssa!” he shouted, jerking up to a sitting position, scaring both the dragonfly and the crow away.

Immediately his head pounded loudly in his ears, and he reached up and touched a swollen wound. It was covered with crusted blood.

“Omigod! I gotta do something,” he swore at himself as he attempted to stand up. He swooned in dizziness, nearly blacking out again. He felt sick, and vomited in the grass.

Sitting, he attempted to get his bearings.

He was in a field — the same field as last night. A few yards away the grass was still beaten down into a circular pattern from the force of the helicopter blades.

“Why — why did they take Alyssa and not me?” he wondered aloud.

It was early in the morning. Dew hung on the grass, and a slight mist arose all around the field. Crickets were still chirping. Cicada had begun to sing their loud crescendoed  mating calls.

In the distance, Gordon heard cars passing.

A highway nearby. But the rental car was still parked in the lot next to the field. They hadn’t taken it. Good luck finding the keys. Wait, the one gunman took the keys.

Gordon staggered to his feet and made his way back to the car. No keys in the ignition. Why he thought they might be seemed stupid. He checked the glove compartment and the console. Again, no keys. He had hoped Alyssa might have brought her cell phone — in spite of the electronics ban for their trip.

Maybe in her room?

It was just about three miles to the main highway. An old beat up Ford pickup pulled over after a dozen or more cars had zipped by Gordon.

“Where to?” asked the driver, an older man, a cigarette dangling from his lower lip.

“To the, uh — ” he had to struggle to remember. “The Ramada, please.”

“No problem. Rough night?”

“You couldn’t begin to believe,” Gordon answered, rolling down the window for air.

“Man my age? I can believe a lotta things, son.”

They drove the rest of the way in silence. The radio was tuned to a real country station, and a crackling recording of Chet Atkins singing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” was playing as they turned into the hotel drive and pulled up to the entrance.

“Hope ya feel better. A couple of raw eggs and tabasco will help that head or yours,” he offered in a knowing voice.

“Yeah. Thanks. I’ll try that,” and he entered the hotel.

* * * * *

“She’s already checked out? You saw her check out?” Gordon asked the hotel receptionist.

“Check out is automatic from the vision screen, so no, I didn’t see her. You are still checked in, according to the computer.”

“Can you let me into her room?”

“I don’t know why if she’s already checked out. But the answer is no, I cannot. It’s against company policy — unless you’ve rented the room.”

“Okay — I’ll rent the room then,” and he swiped his finger.

* * * * *

If Alyssa had checked out, she left all of her baggage behind, and she is a very messy girl, Gordon thought when he opened the door to her room.

Drawers were pulled out, clothing strewn about.

Someone was looking for something. Her cell phone? Something else? Obviously something of value. Where would she put whatever they were after — where would she put something valuable?

The room safe.

He found it on the shelf above the clothes rack — a small rectangular metal box with an old-fashioned push-button pad for access.

Good. It’s possible to get into it. Four digits. Well, theoretically possible. Obviously the intruders hadn’t figured out the code. But what would she use?

The airline she flies for? Too obvious.

Her dad’s name? She never told Gordon what it was.

Army? He was career army.

He tried the buttons, a-r-m-y.

No go.

What? Think! THINK!

It hurt to think. His head swirled.

Why did they come here? To visit Kitty Hawk. Too many letters.

Wait! Her first flight in the glider. All the way down the dune to the bottom. Coming back up — what did she say? Think!

He closed his eyes and envisioned her walking back up the dune with her glider, smiling and laughing.

“I felt like a bird! Like a hawk! Get it? Kitty Hawk!” she had said.

Hawk.

He tapped it in, h-a-w-k.

Bingo! The safe door opened. And inside? Her cell phone!

Getting around the security was no problem for Gordon. He found a ball point pen on the dresser and popped the back of the phone, then carefully depressed a small dot hidden in the circuitry.

He dialed.

“App Man,” answered Marilyn.

“God it’s good to hear your voice!”

“Gordon? Why are you using Alyssa’s phone?”

“It’s a long story, and I don’t have time right now. I need my iLenses, Marilyn, and I need them like pronto! It’s a matter of life and death.”

“Calm down, Gordon. Your blood pressure.”

“Send them to me at the Ramada. I need them by this evening at the very latest — earlier, if possible.”

“I’m contacting the jet courier now.”

“And send me my lap screen, and make sure I have direct connectivity to the main frame.”

“Done. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I’ll fill you in later. I’m going to need you to follow all security protocol, Marilyn. Nobody — absolutely nobody is to know where I am. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Gordon, but — “

“But what?”

“I might have really goofed in that area already.”

“Goofed! Whaddaya mean, goofed?”

“Darryl called yesterday.”

“You didn’t tell Darryl where I was, did you?”

“He said your mother had fallen in the new shower, and that she had to be taken to the hospital.”

“You checked to verify that?”

“As soon as he told me, but everything was offline for some reason.”

“Jee-sus! Marilyn! I said nothing short of a death, for chrissakes!”

“I know! But I made the best decision under the circumstances.”

“Why didn’t you tell him you’d get through to me?”

“It was a mistake, Gordon.”

“You don’t make mistakes, Marilyn.”

“Did he call you?”

“No. Get me my stuff, Marilyn. Don’t screw up — ever again!”

“I’m sorry, Gordon. Disconnecting.”

“I’m sorry, too,” he said to himself after the call ended.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 5 August, 2014

App Man – or, Gordo, the virtual hero – Chapter 5

4 Aug

App Man

or

Gordo, the virtual hero

by L. Stewart Marsden

Chapter 5: Surprise!

 

Gordon met Alyssa in the dining room of the hotel for breakfast as agreed.

“I’m not used to getting up this early,” he complained as he sat down.

“I am. I’ve already been up and ran five miles — showered, and I’m ready for the day,” she grinned. She was already working on a grapefruit and a bowl of oatmeal.

“Two eggs sunny-side up, wheat toast with marmalade, and a small orange juice,” he told the waitress when she appeared.

“Coffee?”

“God, yes!”

She poured and left.

“I suppose that’s strike one,” he said, sipping his coffee.

“Strike one?”

“Me not being a morning person. Plus, as far as activity goes, our simulated walk was the first exercise I’ve had intentionally in months.”

“I figured as much. We’re just here to have a good time and enjoy each other’s company, Gordon. I’m not rating you or anything.”

“That’s a relief. Without all my gadgets, I’m not sure what to do with myself. I think I’m going through withdrawal!”

She laughed. The waitress returned with his order and placed a large plate of food in front of him.

“Eat up!” encouraged Alyssa. “We’ve got a full day ahead of us.”

* * * * *

The full day was hang gliding on Jockey’s Ridge.

“Couldn’t we simulate this? I mean, it looks like a person could get hurt doing this,” Gordon protested.

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“Well, I’m counting on there being a whole lot of fun in that,” he replied, thinking of his work.

Alyssa had the foresight to hire an instructor for only Gordon and herself, as she had sensed correctly he would not do well in a group setting.

“Was that intuition, or what?” he asked her.

“It’s pretty much written all over you,” she replied, smiling broadly.

“How so?”

“Comic books . . . App development career . . . Lone wolf business — you’ve never become part of a large firm. You keep your holdings close to the chest — and, of course, Shangri-La. Out in the middle of nowhere where no one can get to you for any length of time. Unless by helicopter.”

The day went easily for Alyssa, whose natural athleticism helped her — as well as her knowledge of aeronautics.

Not so much for Gordon.

“You’ve done this before,” he complained, as she walked her glider back up to the top after gliding down the dunes like natural on her first launch.

“Have not! Keep trying, Gordon, you’ll get it!” she encouraged.

The instructor was obviously taken by Alyssa, and was more prone to help her with her gear than he helped Gordon.

“He’s just doing that because I paid, and he wants a big tip,” she laughed, when Gordon, covered with sand from head to foot, pointed the obvious out.

“Yeah. He wants a big something — but I’m willing to bet it isn’t a big tip,” he said, emphasizing the p.

As Alyssa predicted, Gordon finally got it, and soared down the ridge at last, whooping the entire distance.

* * * * *

That evening Alyssa took Gordon for the best seafood he had eaten.

“How’d you know about this place? It’s great!” he asked. “Absolutely delicious!” he declared, washing down a bite with his second glass of beer. “I’ve never had soft-shelled crab before!”

“I’m glad you like it,” she replied. “Actually — and you’ll appreciate this — I found it online.”

“You brought electronics?” he asked. “Thought that was verboten.”

“Before I left. I have everything mapped out.”

And she did. After dinner they walked that night along the beach, talking about the hang gliding and the food, and about her. She refused to let him talk about work.

“Army brat,” she replied, when Gordon asked about how she grew up to be who she was.

“My mom died of cancer, and dad buried himself in the military. I was the only child.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“No — it was the best thing that could happen to me. He was a mechanic and worked on jets. I used to love to go out to the air field on weekends and watch those pilots work their maneuvers. So, when I was fourteen, I got my pilot’s license. And Dad was all for it.”

“So, Stanford?”

“That was like a layover until I got to do what I wanted to do — which is what I’m doing. I never intended to be an engineer professionally. I just like to know how things work. It all fits.”

“So, how does this vacation — and me — fit exactly?”

“I don’t know. Like I said, I really enjoyed our simulated experience, and wondered how a real live experience would work out. Plus, you brought up the Wright Brothers — and that certainly fits with my interests . . .Why do you need to know?”

“For me — the few girls that showed any interest in me have only been since my success. And that interest hasn’t exactly been in me, but my money.”

“Didn’t you have girlfriends growing up?”

“Guys with the nickname Gordo don’t have girlfriends, period.”

“Ah.”

“So, no. No girlfriends. No dates. No proms. My closest girl friend even today isn’t even a girl.”

“Marilyn?”

“She has no hidden agendas — no expectations. She’s loyal, helpful and friendly to me . . . “

“Sounds like a Boy Scout.”

“She was really worried when I told you I’d come to Kitty Hawk. She told me it would end badly — even though I told her there was nothing between us. And there is, right? Nothing between us, I mean.”

“No, not if you don’t want it.”

“So, there is something?”

“There’s . . . potential — maybe. See, these things aren’t one-way streets, Gordon. Two people have to reach some point of agreement. Like, when I got the notification to beta test iFit, I still had the option to not opt in.”

“So, is this like a beta test? You and me here?”

“What it is, is safe. Safe for me and safe for you. I’m not going to reel you in and swoop you up in a net, if that’s what you’re worried about. And for me? I’d like to know that you are a genuine person — not a simulation or a composite of all the creeps I’ve known in the past.”

“You’ve know a lot of men?”

“Not in that way. I told you — I’m an old-fashioned girl. I always imagine my dad out with me on dates, and I’m always checking in to see what his opinion is of who I’m with.”

“So, if I pass muster here, I guess the next stop is to meet your dad.”

“That’d be difficult. He died when a pilot landed and the plane caught fire. Dad was trying to get him out of the cockpit when it exploded.”

“Wow. I’m sorry.”

“But, he’s always right here with me,” she said, tapping her chest.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“See that you do. Well, we’d better call it a night. Big day tomorrow. Oh-four-hundred in the dining room for breakfast. They’re opening up early just for us. And wear shorts and a T-shirt. And bring a hat. Oh, and plenty of sunscreen.”

“God, Alyssa — if I had known ahead of time –“

“Yeah. You wouldn’t have come. But you did.”

* * * * *

It was a day of deep sea fishing. Ten miles out, trolling and wrestling with various fish: amberjack, that took the bait and headed straight to the bottom. Mackerel and barracuda, plus one small sand shark that almost grabbed Gordon by the foot as it flopped on the deck.

Alyssa wore a blue scarf tied about her head, and dark sun glasses. She reminded Gordon a bit of photos of Jackie Kennedy he had seen. They were both exotic and beautiful, except Alyssa was alive and real, and only a few feet away.

Eventually the mixture of diesel fuel and fish combined with heavier afternoon seas got to Gordon’s stomach.

“Whatever you do,” said the captain, “don’t go below if you’re feeling seasick. It’ll only get worse.”

How worse could it be? thought Gordon as he lurched down the steps into the bulwark of the small boat, and collapsed on one of the small bunks.

He found out. As he emptied his stomach of breakfast, two baloney sandwiches and three Coronas into the small stainless steel toilet, he heard Alyssa come to the top of the steps and call down.

“Are you okay, Gordon? Anything I can do?”

“Nooo!” he replied to both questions, thinking to himself if you blow chunks and she bolts, it was never meant to be from his favorite movie Wayne’s World.

That night there was no dinner out, nor walk on the beach, as Gordon nursed his upset stomach and throbbing head in his room alone. Alyssa offered to help, but he declined.

* * * * *

“So, how’s the stomach,” she said, looking up next morning from the table in the hotel dining room.

“Better.”

“Breakfast?”

“Not that better.” He sat down and the waitress brought a pot of hot coffee. “You didn’t bolt.”

“What?” she asked, confused.

“Never mind. Inside joke. So — last day of our excursion. May I ask where we are going?”

“The reason we came here in the first place. Kitty Hawk. Where the Wright Brothers started it all,” she replied.

“Technically, it started before that,” he countered. “I mean, they had pretty much done all their engineering in Ohio, right? They came here for the winds.”

“I’m not sure. I guess we’ll find out.”

* * * * *

For him the visit to the museum was anticlimactic. Not so for Alyssa. Perhaps it was the lingering seasickness, he argued to himself. But he knew it wasn’t. It was something else. It was the end of their time together, and he was feeling he wanted to be someplace else with her.

She was like a princess delighting in an enchanted forest. She spun from exhibit to exhibit, reading and examining. Oh how she wanted to touch as well, he could see. And, gradually, Gordon caught Alyssa’s enthusiasm.

Outside along the track that marked the first flight, she almost reverently walked the distance.

“From here, Gordon, all our aero technology got off the ground!” She grinned at her own pun. “I wish my dad could be here to see this.”

“Isn’t he?” Gordon reflected, tapping his chest.

“Yeah. I guess he is,” she said, and walked on ahead. Gordon wondered if he was working his way into Alyssa’s dad’s approval, but he was too afraid to ask. The thing was, she was certainly working her way into his.

That night they had a special dinner on the end of Jennette’s Pier. Once again, Alyssa had parlayed a private table, replete with shrimp cocktail and champagne, served by a uniformed waiter.

“I never knew airline pilots had the kind of money to throw about like this,” he commented, clinking her glass with his.

“It’s called saving and not spending-as-you-go,” she said. “One of Dad’s top economic principles. Plus, when he died, there was no one else to have to contend for his estate. A lifetime pension and other benefits in the military ain’t chopped liver, as they say.”

“I guess not. So, tell me how I’ve done. I mean — if you were going to grade me.”

“Pretty gutsy question, Gordon. You sure you want to know the answer?”

“No, I’m not sure. But tomorrow we go our separate ways.”

“Right. Give me your hand.” He reached across the table, and she took his hand in hers. Then she stood up and moved around the table to where he sat, pulling him up from his chair lightly. She dropped his hand and put hers on his waist and drew close, leaning her face up to his, tilting her head ever so slightly.

“I’d say,” she whispered, looking him in the eyes, “that on a scale of one to ten?”

She kissed him, her warm lips lightly pressing his innocently.

“I’d say that really being with you beats virtually being with you — hands down.”

“And Dad?”

“I believe he would agree with me.” She kissed him again, her lips discovering his with more urgency and passion.

* * * * *

Alyssa was in control. The trip, the hang gliding, the deep sea fishing, Kitty Hawk — everything was in her grip — and Gordon was delighted. He willed himself be pulled along in spite of the echo of Marilyn’s warning, Remember what happened last time.

You’ve got to admit, it’s getting better . . . he hummed as she took his hand in hers and swung their arms gently, walking down the gentle slope from the pier to where her car was parked.

The lot was empty. It was past midnight, and into the next morning when they were to take their leave of one another.

But for how long? he wondered. And where is this going? he couldn’t help ask himself.

“Just enjoy the moment,” she said, as if reading his mind.

She opened the passenger side door for Gordon, who slid into the leather seat. It was a Mustang. Bright candy blue. The top was down.

She got into the driver’s side and shook her hair about her shoulders, then inserted the key into the ignition.

It seemed to Gordon that what happened next was in slow-motion,. He was staring into Alyssa’s eyes and at her pouting lips, debating the impulse to lean forward and kiss her again.

A man appeared suddenly beside the car on Alyssa’s side. He was dressed entirely in black. His face was hidden by a black ski mask, and he wore black leather gloves.

“Don’t do anything you will regret!” he ordered, covering Alyssa’s mouth with his left hand while he pressed a handgun against the back of her head.

She struggled briefly.

“I said, don’t!” he growled, tightening his grip on her mouth.

Gordon turned in his seat as a second man brushed Gordon’s ear with a gun and whispered, “Don’t be a hero. I’ll blow your brains all over this Mustang.”

The men jumped into the back seat.

“Pull out of the lot and head left,” the driver’s side man growled. “No funny stuff, or your boyfriend gets it.”

Alyssa started the car and turned on the headlights, then backed out of her space, shaking from head to foot. She pulled out onto the boulevard and began to drive.

“Cross the bridge and keep going,” ordered the man behind Alyssa, and she headed across the Pamlico Sound and past Manteo.

“Whatever your being paid, I can give you ten times that amount!” Gordon blurted loudly.

“Shut the hell up!” came a quick reply.

Alyssa glanced towards Gordon. He could see the fear in her eyes, but also a plea to obey the gunmen. He was sweating, and a wave of nausea broke over him. He clenched his teeth and literally bit back food trying to back out of his mouth.

They travelled over the second longer bridge, ascending and descending the arched portion that allowed boats to travel underneath it.

A short distance on land the gunman behind Alyssa ordered “Turn here,” and she veered left down another road. Further on he commanded her to slow down and turn onto a narrow paved road that would through the marshland.

There were no other cars on the road. Gordon wished he had his iLenses. The kidnapping would have been over by now, he thought, and he and Alyssa would be free. Depending on the competency of the local police and sheriff.

They drove along a road and whizzed past a sign. Alligator River something refuge was all Gordon caught. Enough for the iLenses, though. Damn!

“Park with your headlights shining out there,” said the obviously lead gunman, and Alyssa complied, turning the car to a stop, the lights shinning onto an empty field of some sort.

“Leave the lights on, and turn the engine off. Give me the keys.”

Again, Alyssa obeyed.

“Both of you — out of the car and lean against the car. Face each other and put your hands behind you.”

Again they obeyed. Gordon looked into Alyssa’s eyes as the gunmen tightly strapped their hands together with zip straps.

“Let’s go out into the field,” the lead gunman ordered.

So here it was, thought Gordon. A surprise Alyssa hadn’t planned. One that came out of the blue and was about to potentially change everything.

“Gordon, I’m sorry!” whispered Alyssa as they walked out into the dark field, illumined by the headlights of her car.

“I said — shut the fuck up!” the lead gunman ground out. “That’s far enough!”

They stopped.

“Turn around!”

They turned.

In the relative silence of the night the sound of a distant helicopter could be heard approaching, the whop-whop-whop-whop sound of its blades becoming louder, finally drowning out the sounds of the nearby crickets and katydids.

The helicopter landed a few yards from the group, blades still whirring, dust thrown into the air.

“Okay, missy — you first,” said the lead gunman, pointing towards the grounded helicopter.

Alyssa looked imploringly at Gordon, who smiled and nodded her on. It’s all right, he smiled.

Alyssa bowed her head and upper body and ran toward the craft, her gunman prodding her from behind. Once they were in the helicopter, the gunman still with Gordon turned towards him.

“On your knees, Mr. Seltzer.” It was the first time anyone’s name had been used.

Awkwardly, slowly, Gordon dropped to his knees. He heard Alyssa scream “No!” from the helicopter, and turned his head to see her gunman club her unconscious with his gun.

“If you know who I am, then you know when I say I can pay you more — I can pay you more!” he pleaded.

“Shut the fuck up!” came the reply again as the gunman struck Gordon in the back of the head with his gun.

Gordon’s head erupted with pain and sound — a blaring mixture of crickets, katydids and whirling helicopter blades as he lost consciousness and fell forward onto his face. The sound of the helicopter diminished as everything went black.

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 4 August, 2014

New Dawning

30 Jul

 

 

 

New dawning

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Something dawned on me today,
early in the bathroom morn,
while I was brushing, brushing, brushing
my teeth, teeth, teeth:
that I was not as bad as I believed,
which was — I say — hard to conceive,
since throughout my life I was deceived
to think myself
not quite,
less right,
off site,
and leaning just a bit in the wrong direction.

So, by my “erroneous selection” I selected to
decrease the number of those who saw me inept,
those who detected my failings and flaws,
and who “never” and “nahed” me down to my knees,
whom I could never and nahed ever please –
those infinite heights of high expectations,
where I floundered and pawed
with no realization –

Not that I did a single one bad –
but left, with whatever dignity I had
and planted that
carefully
where no one could disturb it,
and it grew
silently
deep rooted to the earth and
now it has sprung to reveal
its sweet flower,
and I,
brushing teeth
in this early morn hour
have discovered
uncovered
a new self-respect
that not very long ago
you would never detect.

There it is: so fragile and gentle,
seeking sunlight and moisture
and rich fertilizer;
I’ll nurture it
tender it
and watch it grow strong;

as I realize the truth of its truth –
and never,
no never
will I be ever that wrong.

 

Copyright © by L. Stewart Marsden, 30 July, 2014

App Man, or, Gordo the virtual hero — Chapter 4

30 Jul

App Man

or

Gordon, the virtual hero

Chapter 4: Kitty Hawk Trials

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Alyssa called Gordon three weeks later.

“I told you she would call,” pouted Marilyn.

“Shush! Hello?” he ventured.

“Hello, Gordon? It’s Alyssa.”

“Alyssa?”

“You know — airline pilot — Stanford grad — the Sedona iFit trial?”

“Aly– Oh! A-lyssa!”

“You’re kidding me, right? You’ve forgotten already?”

“Naw — I’m just havin’ fun, Alyssa. Like my nephew says, ‘J-K!’ What’s up? You? In the plane, I mean? It’s a joke.”

“Yeah,” she laughed weakly. “No, we can’t make personal phone calls from the cockpit. Look, I’m in Maui, and am scheduled to fly back to Portland tomorrow — then I have about four days free. Remember what you said about Kitty Hawk?”

“Yeah, but — Alyssa, that add-on feature actually went on the back burner and won’t be ready for a couple of months.”

“Well, what if we — you and I — meet up on the Outer Banks for a few days — you know, go see Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers stuff?”

“Oh! You mean not virtual — but real reality?”

“That’s exactly what I mean! Whaddaya say?”

“Say no, you can’t,” interrupted Marilyn. “You’ve got that big pow-wow with Facebook then.”

“So? Whaddaya say, Gordon? You have something to keep you from going? I’d understand if you did and –“

“No!” he blurted. “There’s nothing to keep me from meeting you out there. Want me to make reservations?”

“Already did.”

“That’s ballsy!”

“That’s what he said,” she quipped. “So now you’ve got to go. No excuses.”

“So, when and where?”

“Thursday. The Ramada in Nags Head. I’ll meet you for drinks at the bar around 6.”

“Shouldn’t that be oh-eighteen hundred?”

“Ha! Yeah — whatever. Just leave work behind. Promise me that.”

“I promise.”

“Oh, and bring a bathing suit. Or not.”

“Disconnected,” announced Marilyn quickly, snapping the conversation off. “Which, I might add, is what this relationship needs to be!”

“Ma-ri-lyn!” Gordon whined, “there is no relationship here!”

“That’s what you said last time. Do I need to remind you how that ended?”

“We’re just getting together for drinks!”

“Right! For four days and two thousand miles away?”

“I promise you — nothing’s going to happen.”

* * * * *

As Ramadas go, this one was really not exceptional, other than it was right on the beach. Gordon’s eyes slowly adjusted from the bright daylight drive from the airport to the inside of the motel. He sorely missed his iLenses, but he had promised Alyssa he would leave business at home.

So, without cellphone or iLenses or laptop, Gordon had isolated himself from the world — virtually.

The most difficult disconnection was with Marilyn, who threatened to fuse all of the circuitry and fry the many sources of wifi and other non-wired devices in Shangri-La while he was away.

What did people do back then to survive? he thought to himself as he approached the busy check-in desk. He felt desperately naked without his armaments of electronic devices.

“May I help you?” smiled a browned uniformed clerk.

“I have a reservation for a few days,” he stammered.

“Name?”

“Well, I’m not sure who it’s under. But my name is Feltzer. Gordon Feltzer.”

“Thank you, Mr. Fizzer.”

“Feltzer!” he repeated slowly, and spelled it out.

“Yes, sorry, Mr. Feltzer. Here we are . . . you have an ocean view bedroom — nonsmoking — with a king. That’s on the sixth floor.”

“Do you need my finger scan?”

“Only to set the door lock so you can open it. Everything else has been taken care of. Do you need any assistance with your luggage?”

“No thanks. Just the one,” he lifted the light carry-on for her to see, then placed his finger on the scanner.

“Thank you, Mr. Feltzer. Take the elevators to the sixth floor and go right down the hallway. Room 645 will be on your right.”

“Six forty-five. Got it. Thank you.”

 * * * * *

On his pillow was a handwritten note in choppy print: “See you at 6 in the bar! — A.”

It was four o’clock. Oh-sixteen-hundred, he said to himself with a smile. He drew back the drapes to the sliding glass door, opened it, and stepped onto a small rectangular porch. Before him stretched the aqua blue waters of the Atlantic. Distant clouds blurred into the distant horizon line, where water met air.

The air was salty, and warm gusts billowed about his face and hair. He closed his eyes and slowly breathed in and exhaled.

He remembered coming to the beach when he was a kid. His mother and father in the front seat of the Odyssey van, he and Darryl watching the movie monitor and listening to sound over bulky remote headphones. Well, Gordon didn’t actually watch the movie. He read comic books. He muted the sound on his headphones.

His mother would turn back to them from time to time and seem to mouth something that was too muted by the headphones to understand. Then she would motion them to pull their headphones off.

“We’re at the halfway point and are going to stop in Rockingham. Which restaurant do you want to go to?”

She said “restaurant,” but she meant which fast food place. Dad and Darryl liked Bojangles. Mom liked Wendy’s, and Gordon liked nothing. But, forced to choose, he would blurt out Subway, or Chick-fil-A, knowing neither was likely to be found. He would inevitably bow to the majority choice.

So they generally ate Bojangles. The spicy food ripped through Gordon so fast that within an hour leaving Rockingham they had to pull off U.S. 70 so he could dash to the woods with a handful of tissue paper his mother had given him.

“I’ll be damned if I know what’s wrong with that boy,” his father grumbled when Gordon returned and fastened his seat belt.

“Maybe it’s irritable bowel syndrome,” suggested his mother. And she would prattle on about someone in the carpool who was diagnosed with it, and how the doctors were afraid of the onset of various other intestinal complications.

Hours later, they turned down the final approach to Holden Beach, where they went every summer and stayed in the same canal row cottage. The canal rows were on the island side opposite the ocean, where the mosquitos were intolerable. The Feltzer’s didn’t make enough money to afford to rent an ocean front cottage.

“Just be goddam grateful we get to have a vacation at all, goddamit,” his dad would yell. Then he left the family for another woman, and he and his girlfriend always rented an ocean front cottage when they vacationed. Gordon and Darryl and their mother never again went to the beach.

Both Daryl and Gordon would unbuckle their seat belts and stand on their seats to see the ocean.

“Who’s first to see the ocean?” their dad would ask excitedly. And as the van slowly ascended the tall curving bridge over the waterway, each brother would claim the prize. All of the van’s windows had been opened, and the warm salt air poured into the space.

“I SEE IT!!!” Darryl would shout.

“YOU DID NOT! I SAW IT FIRST!”

And his parents laughed as Gordon and Darryl pummeled each other.

That same smell. The same sound of the rolling evening tide, washing up the sandy beach. The same array of brightly-colored beach umbrellas and camping tarps, beach chairs and towels spread out. Of kids and parents splashing in the surf. Skinny, long-haired browned boys watching the waves — skim boards in hand — then dashing towards a breaking wave, tossing the skim board ahead, and leaping onto the board for a brief and exciting ride.

Of tattooed boy-men, pumping cans of beer wrapped in coolie covers, turning slowly to ogle pairs of oscillating fannies attached to bleached blonde bikinied bimbos whose boobs bounced to their steps.

The wind-muted sound of laughter and screams of delighted voices. Of Bonaparte gulls as they swooped circles into the sea breeze, to light on the sand and outrun the water up the beach.

Squadrons of brown pelicans glided out of the setting sun, their necks snuggled against their bodies, flapping briefly, and soon vanishing out of sight further up the beach. The modern evolution of the prehistoric pterodactyl, he thought to himself.

Here, where the water and the land and the air meet, is near perfection, he thought. If there was a god, here is where he — or she — would reside.

Marilyn would love it here, he thought to himself. Then he remembered Alyssa. Oh-eighteen hundred wasn’t too far off, and he had to take a shower and change.

* * * *

“Wow! You look — ” he stammered when he found Alyssa tucked into a corner booth in the bar.

Alyssa had squeezed herself into a short black dress with straps. Her raven black hair was combed out, and waved about her oval face. She smiled.

“Thank you! And you look straight out of Casablanca.” she returned.

Gordon wore a white short-sleeved linen shirt with open collar. He also wore white linen pants and sandals. All the outfit lacked, in his opinion, was a white Panama hat with white linen hat band.

He sat across from her.

“Marilyn suggested it. I only have suites — well a couple of those. Everything else is shorts and T-shirts.”

“She has excellent taste. I’m very surprised she let you go.”

“I am my own man, my dear! Don’t let the geekyness fool you. I actually haven’t taken time for myself in quite a while.”

“I haven’t either.”

“Like I believe that. You must have invitations every weekend to go all over the world,” he challenged.

“Sure. Plenty of invitations. Not so great on the desirability of the inviter. Plus, I invited you, remember?”

“So, where’s your room?”

“Down the hall from yours.”

“You know, I half expected you to book one room.”

“Well, forward as I might be on some levels, I would never do that.”

“I like that.”

“I think you’re going to find me an old-fashioned kind of girl — in spite of my curriculum vitae.”

“Hey — remember, I’m not a college grad. And, I don’t have my iLenses on to look that up! So tell me, old-fashioned Alyssa, what’s on the agenda for the next few days?”

“Surprise after surprise.”

“What kind of surprises?”

“If I told you, they wouldn’t be surprises, would they?”

A waiter approached with a tray bearing two very large Margarita glasses. He placed one in front of Alyssa and one in front of Gordon, turned and left.

“Cheers!” she said, offering her glass in a toast.

“Cheers!” Gordon replied. “Here’s to surprises — whatever they may be!”

* * * * *

Copyright © by L. Stewart Marsden, 30 July, 2014

 

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