Stay Away from the Aqua – Maxwell Chandler

20170208_222425-002It was as if every trial from the year at an end jumped onto my shoulders. Piled upon, I could barely stand and had no energy nor desire to go out and tip my cup to the start of a new number on the calendar.

I was waiting an hour or so more into the night before putting my bathrobe on as to avoid becoming the cliché of the hermit. I had just put on some Pres when there was a knock at my door. Lucinda often refused to recognize my self-imposed exiles regardless of the reason.

She wanted to take me out as no one could remember when they had last seen me.

“I like the music…is this…”

She said the wrong nick-name.

“Well, I am much more honky-tonk” showing a toothy smile.

I felt like a little kid, the world of childhood where there is a set schedule for everything and any deviation is cause for upset. Four O’clock is graham cracker time regardless of where the child may be. The music played, a sense of anxiety briefly flashed across the face as I prepared to beg off until some abstract time in the future. I was told that just the fact I had become so apprehensive was an indication to her that I had to go out with her.

She started driving, away from the city as to hinder my ability to beg off after one round and head home. Every third beautiful woman I met outside of the city proper who had no compunction about being barefoot at any social gather turned out to be one of Lucinda’s cousins.

I only seemed to run into them outside of the city and only ever when with Lucinda. Despite this, they all seemed to know everyone that I did. This cousin was a part time chef and although I instantly forgot it, her name perfectly suited her and had that ring of tradition to it like all the rest of the fruit on the family tree.

We sat on a couch which initially to me looked beat to hell but turned out to be rather comfortable. The cousin came back with some dull silver tulip shaped ice-cream dishes.

The cannonball sorbet got its heavy, vertigo inducing power from the white Jesus that the Loganberries had been soaked in. Always, for seven days as it seemed biblically appropriate.

Although I prided myself on tolerance for drink, it very quickly became a bit much. Lucinda had grown up on the stuff, or at the very least its relatives. So, when she described its effects, they differed drastically from those of mine.

For her, it was more like a heavy velvet curtain of such a rich, dark hue as to hide all the dust slowly descending after the last act of a play, the plot of which the audience had already forgotten.

It was not that I was uncomfortable in our collective silence but I had to do something to temper how the walls kept rippling towards the center of the room then back out again like cheap sheets of plastic.

I flipped through the records and found Mozart’s clarinet concerto with a cover so faded I could not tell who the orchestra was. It had been her father’s and although she never listened to it, she had kept it.

The music started. The beauty was almost too much, the beauty caught in my throat. Elbows on knees, chin in palms I covered my face with my hands. Lucinda’s hands went to my shoulders.

“Shhh..there you go, there goes last year, say goodbye.”

finis

 

 

Not for use without permission. maxwellachandler@aol.com

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