Monday, April 26, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 12)

 “I can bring those up front for you.” Richard said.

Marta looked towards the front of the bookstore and then back at Richard who stood smiling, hands extended ready to retrieve the books. He was curious looking, his blue jeans were battered and splattered with paint front and back. His t-shirt, a white v-neck, splattered as well. His shoes, black Chuck Taylor high-tops, worn to the thread.  He had dark hair, cut short and wind blown. What looked like two days without a shave contrast against his pale skin. There were tiny flecks of paint on the rim of his glasses.

“Okay.” Marta said quizzically.

Richard smiled, took the books and walked backward a step or two before spinning around on his heel. He smiled to himself. Marta bent over to inspect yet another book spine, pushing her dirty-blonde locks behind her ears. A thin green scarf twisted in a deliberate fashion around her neck dangled in front of her, she flicked it back over her shoulder and folded her arms. Peering back, she caught Richard's gaze momentarily. Feeling shy she looked away quickly, appearing to brush some lint from the shoulder of her dark gray tee. She stood up and slid her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. Her gaze now locked on what was in front of her on the shelf, though her mind was elsewhere.

“These belong to the beautiful young woman over…down there.” Richard said to the man at the register quite loudly. He was looking at Marta, waiting for some eye contact. Marta looked over and smiled, then looked away again quickly.

Richard pulled a paperback from his back pocket and placed it on the counter.

“$3.00.” Said the man behind the register.

Richard pulled out his wallet and peered over his shoulder. Marta was making her way towards the back of the store. "Actually friend, can you ring up these books as well? I’d like to pay for this lot.” He said quietly while leaning over the counter slightly.

The man at the register smiled. “That will be $26 even. She’s in here almost every Sunday at about this time.

Richard tore out the copyright page from the paperback he was purchasing. “Can I borrow your pencil?”

The man pulled the pencil from behind his ear, looked at the point from over the rim of his glasses, and handed it over to Richard.

Richard wrote his name at the bottom of the page along with his phone number.  “Can you hand this to her when she comes up to pay?

“Will do.” The man said, sliding the pencil back into position behind his ear.

Richard smiled and handed the man $30. “Keep the change.”

Marta felt her face grow flush as the man at the register explained what Richard had done.

“I can’t accept that. Please, I’d like to give you the money for them. Maybe if you see him in here you could pay him back for me.” She pleaded.

“He’s in here almost every Sunday. Really surprised you haven’t run into him before.” The man at the register said trying to contain his smile.

Marta brushed her hair back behind her ears and placed the books into her canvas bag. She looked out the window, almost searching, and then back at the man behind the register. “Okay, thank you.

“Wait, Miss…I forgot to give you this.” The man said leaning over the counter.

Marta took the folded piece of paper and opened it. “What is…oh..OH…Richard Lemon…”

Marta looked up at the man behind the register. His arms were folded. He looked delighted in his knowledge. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 11)

4th of July weekend. Rehoboth was to capacity. The boardwalk sagged and squeaked with each flip flop, sandal and bare foot. People were packed like sardines on the beach, pacing back and forth from the water. Seagulls foraged near trash cans and abandoned blankets. It was 98 degrees. The haze and humidity kept most under cover or in the water.

It was an accident.

Marta and Richard pitched their umbrella halfway between boardwalk and shoreline. Low reclining lawn chairs set up on either side of the pole. Towels lined up, one, two, three, with Hanna’s in the center, held down with coolers and shoes.

The lifeguards were busy blowing their whistles and directing swimmers. The waves were brutal, the undertow strong.

Hanna knew better.

“One more trip down to the water—knee high only, little one—and then you have to eat.” Marta yelled after Hanna.

Marta opened the cooler and pulled out the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Hanna had made for herself.

“Our daughter is quite the chef.” Marta said.

“She’s the only nine year old I know who can grind coffee beans.” Richard said smiling.

Marta set the sandwich on a paper towel along with a cluster of red seedless grapes.

Richard looked up and surveyed the coast.

“I don’t see her. I’ll be right back.” Richard said.

“I’m sure she’s not far. She knows it’s time for lunch” Marta said.

Marta stood up and followed Richard down to the water with her eyes. The crowd in the water was moving in towards the beach. The waves were high, crashing on backs, toppling people right and left.

“RICHARD!” Marta yelled towards her husband.

Richard turned to see his wife running. Her arm outstretched, her finger pointing, her face frantic. He turned back towards the water and ran, but waves would prevent his pursuit.

“HANNA—HANNA!” Marta screamed.

A lifeguard barreled down the beach into the water past Richard.

Marta pushed desperately against the waves towards her husband. The lifeguard yelled for them to go back to the beach. Hanna lay lifeless and unphased by any attempts to resuscitate. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 10)

There was a silence wrapped around the two as they strode around the park towards the tavern. Marta locked her arm around Richard’s. They each took turns ducking under low hanging branches while traversing random pieces of sidewalk forced skyward by ancient tree roots.

“It’s so quiet. I love it like this.” Marta whispered.

Richard looked at his watch. “Just think, tomorrow at this time we’ll be at the shore.”

“That trumps city quiet any day.” Marta said.

It was a handsome crock of assorted olives and a crusty baguette, shared and consumed greedily, that fueled Richard and Marta’s appetites. Then, duck confit with pommes puree for Richard and whole branzino with fingerlings and sautéed spinach for Marta. But, it was a shared bottle of Malbec that finally brought color back to his wife’s cheeks.

“No rush.” The waiter said as he placed the check on the table.

Marta looked at Richard and smiled. “I’m going to use the restroom before we head out.”

“Oh, I see.” Richard winked.

Marta felt flushed, full and happy. Dabbing cool water on her cheeks in the bathroom she finally recognized the face she saw. It was the lighting, she happily noted.

Richard was ready when Marta arrived back at the table. The check had been taken care of. Most customers had cleared out except for a few holding out at the bar. By all accounts it was still early, but being a Sunday, the rush had already come and gone.

The couple waved to the owner as they slipped out the door. Richard put his arm around Marta and they made their way down the hill towards home in silence.

Marta focused on her to do list. The endless chores and food shopping while Richard would caretake the yard and let the neighbors know that they were back in town. Rebel would be under foot, running from room to room, sniffing and poking around. It would be almost perfect, she thought.