Thursday, October 17, 2013
The barbecue awaits Gloria and TRM
Answering a knock at the kitchen door, she greeted Mr. Apotienne. Having seen him so recently in the front room, it made her think of the way Dopey, among the seven dwarfs, got in line again to receive another goodbye kiss on the top of his head from Snow White before heading to the mine. This dignified man of adult height did not arrive hat-in-hand, there was nothing visibly shuffling that she could pinpoint and he was not dopey in the least. Still. The sight of The Reading Man and the association made her happy in a way that she wished could be thumbtacked in place right there on the door or the jamb. No matter how time might fade it, that the moment once happened could not be disputed.
He asked if she'd like to go with him to the barbecue that night, the first since he'd arrived in the region. She said, "What a good idea. Could we go early for the markets? I think you'd enjoy them." They arranged a time when he'd pick her up, agreed that his car could accommodate any produce and second-hand goods they might find. He had considered handing her a note earlier, something more direct, less "aw, shucks" appearing but hadn't quite gotten to it. His walk had not quieted the internal chatter as he'd hoped. In fact, when it stilled at all, he had the feeling he had somehow gotten himself caught in the rip current of his rare but not unknown over-thinking and what was called for was genuine quiet and reliable intuition. Mentally, he was hyper-ventilating.
Before he'd reached the paved walk, Gloria called to him, his first name, "Robert," and came down the steps with a fresh tart, wrapped for take-out. They nodded to one another, see-you-soon, thanks, why don't we just stand here and act daffy because it makes me think I'm about 10 years old, but managed to collect themselves and turn in the appropriate directions.
As he sloped along toward his cottage, the fog began to thin. It should be a fine afternoon drive over the hill, he thought. With no warning, TRM's intuition yanked him by the ear and told him he did not have a secret, to stop thinking about that silly and small business and return to the moment, or he'd miss all the good parts.