Table of Contents
Living the Dream
Her long auburn hair swirls around her as she dashes to her husband, knocking him sideways.
Reflexively, he grabs her as he falls. She lands on top of him.
The gunshot echoes above the traffic noise on the busy street.
He feels her body shudder from the impact. Her blood splatters him.
Other agents start toward the lone gunman, guns drawn.
Rolling over, he flees for his life.1
The night is far from spent, but she has awakened again, palms clammy, heart thudding. Vague wisps of dream cling to her mind.
How vile! How evil! What a horrid death, and so unexpected. She looks YOUNG!
Shuddering, she shakes off the ill feeling of the event, deliberately refocusing.
I'm sure I've never been to a hotel with that type of convention hall before. I thought dreams were supposed to be made up of real events, just redeposited... My hair has never been long, and I'm SURE I'd remember if I'd ever had a husband... especially a knockout like him!
Afterward, she lay sleepless yet again, wriggling around in a futile hunt for a more comfortable position, as if creating the right "nest" among the sheets, blankets, pillows, and comforter would bring the bliss of a dreamless sleep.
Focus your thoughts on something, someone, or some place serene and peaceful. Imagine yourself in that place, with that someone, doing that something, or using that something, whenever you feel anxious.
"The modern mantra to replace counting sheep," she thinks cynically, squirming into yet another, equally unrestful, position.
Don't knock it until you give it a fair trial.
"Okay. I will. I'll dream up the perfect lover, and take him to bed with me each night I can't fall asleep," she resolves as a way to end her inner dialog. She drops off before she gets him created.
The next night, she tries again, with great success.
It is the dawn of the computer age. A British computer sends an old adage to its Russian counterpart as part of the calibration process.
"Out of sight; out of mind."
The Russian computer dutifully translates the message, then sends the Russian language version back to the British computer.
The British computer runs it through its translating program and prints out, "Invisible and insane."
~ Anonymous joke circulated heavily in the early days of computers.
She is again driving Baby Blue Ram, her old beater of a pickup, east on Highway 2. The windshield wipers intermittently bat at the spittings of snow decorating the glass.
"A hitchhiker? Mid-November is no time to be out seeing the country on foot!" she thinks as she slows down, taking a closer look.
Never pick up a hitchhiker. They might turn out to be a serial killer, and you might turn into their next victim," her conscious nags her.
“That hitchhiker’s jacket certainly looks short and a bit worn. It probably isn’t much protection from the strong north wind. His face sure seems red with cold.”
You're just an old softy. See a stray dog, and nothing will do but you have to bring it home, even though you KNOW how your father hates animals in the house!
"But, this hitchhiker is a human being, not a dog. He can't curl up in a snowbank with his tail protecting his nose," (assuming the smattering builds up to a bank... it's too hard and cold a snow to create a comfortable drift.)
"He's not even trying to hitch. He's just walking along."
Phew! Finally out of sight.
"Out of sight; out of mind."
Translated into Russian and back into English as "Invisible and insane."
"Rats! It is INSANE to be out hiking, not dressed for the weather, on a day like today."
You have to live with yourself.
She slams on the brakes and does a U'ee right in the middle of a deserted flat stretch.
Appalled, she eyes the pile of feed she has laboriously drug helter-skelter onto the floor and seat, plagued by second thoughts. She watches him grow ever larger in the rear view window as he does a tired jog up to the passenger door.
It would be helpful, if one decides that one just MUST pick up a hitchhiker, to have ROOM for him before making the offer. Now that I've GOT him, WHERE am I going to PUT him?
"I'm Despina." Pulling off her glove with her even white teeth, she offers a strong, but trim, hand for him to shake.
"I'm Cu." His huge calloused hand totally envelopes hers, its coppery back a pleasing contrast to her pale one.
I wonder what tribe he’s from? she thinks as she contemplates their different skin tones.
Up close, she startles as her gaze shifts to take in the perfection of his features. Giving her shoulders a shake, she pulls on her glove. "Well, now that we have the "You Tarzan; me, Jane," bit out of the way, where're you heading?"
"I'd settle for someplace warm in exchange for honest toil, at the moment."
"I see. Would you like to stop at the Chinese restaurant for a bite to eat while we figure out where you can find your ideal soft landing place?"
Silence. Finally Despina speaks again, "There are other restaurants if you don't like to eat Chinese."
"Anyone local hiring? I'd rather work outdoors."
Alarm bells sound off. No money for a meal... but unwilling to take charity, she decides.
"I don't know of anything off hand, but I can sure use some help unloading this feed if, assuming you'd consider trading labor for lunch. It'll put you off on a side road instead of in town, however," she finishes helplessly.
Whatever ARE you up to? You don't know anything about him. If you take a drifter home, what does he have to lose? He'll be warm and fed, and you'll have a hard time putting him out afterward if you couldn't even drive by him. Leanna will be really ticked when she gets home, too. She's bound to feel invaded, or something, I'm sure.
"Where're you from?"
"Arizona." His voice and eyes harden.
"You were heading east."
"I'm coming from Kansas."
"Arizona is southwest of Kansas, and both of those are WEST of here."
"So they are," he acknowledges, the humorous glint returning to his black eyes.
Unloading has never gone so rapidly. He sets off across the creek with two bags of salt, one on each shoulder.
I wonder if he's a weight lifter. He makes those 50-pound bags look about as substantial as sacks of potato chips.
She headed up to the house to make a few phone calls to see if anyone needs a good hired man.
Maybe I can deliver him someplace safe before dark.
"Where'd you plan to spend the night?" She stops, turning slowly to face him, one eyebrow rising in question.
"Who lives in the old house down by the barn?"
"Nobody. It doesn't even have water or heat."
"Who owns it?"
"I do. Would you like to shower? I can wash up your things while you get cleaned up, if you'd like." My nose will be ever so grateful if you say "yes". She is embarrassed to feel her nose twitch, and watches, horrified, as his obsidian eyes glint with humor as if he has read her thoughts.
Eyeing the huge pile of clothing that resulted when he unpacks, she thinks, Wherever did he have all THOSE stashed?
Using cold water so he does not get a nasty surprise, she starts the load with double the normal amount of soap, then digs out some of her father's baggiest pants and a black oversized sweatshirt she generally wears with a good six inches of sleeve rolled up, depositing them outside the bathroom door.
He exits while she is loading the dryer. The legs of the pants she has always thought were so big hit him mid-calf. She bursts out laughing. His long black hair hangs loose around his shoulders, and the shirt's sleeves are just slightly too short.
Smiling at him appreciatively, her wayward tongue comments before she can stop it, "You sure clean up nice."
"Clothes make the man."
A startled bark of laughter bursts from her. "So I've heard."
He could play the leading man in a movie, even in rags. It's a wonder he's such a hard worker. Most of the good-looking guys I've ever been around seem to be pretty good at getting others to do their work for them, she thinks, frowning.
Picking up his pack, he slides it on, opening the door. "May I?"
Mother, May I? Frowning again, she silently nods her head. His feet would have hung out over the edge of the bed, anyway, I bet.
Every morning, she drops Cu somewhere on the way to school. Every night, she collects him from whatever farmer has hired him for the day.
One evening in early December, he knocks on the door to wash his clothes while she is playing a CD by Inti Illimani, a Chilean Indian group originally from the Andes Mountains. He has never heard of these people, but their music speaks to his soul. Early evening turns into concert time, as he listens to one of her tapes or CD's before withdrawing into the cold of the old house. When he had heard each CD and tape once, she coaxes him into staying long enough to get through a movie. She starts him off with The Gods Must Be Crazy. Work on her book suffers, but she doesn't mind.
Christmas time draws near.
"Would you like to take advantage of the cheaper holiday rates to call someone special?" she ventures at supper the night before.
"No," he says gruffly, setting his plate in the sink, then heading for the door.
Oops. Still a tad touchy about home.
The winter passed. When school is due to end, Despina asks Cu if he has a valid driver's license, or would like to take the Iowa driver's test so he can drive himself to work and back once school is over for the year.
Instead of answering, he responds with a completely unrelated question. "What do you do during summer vacation?"
Well, a non sequitur is an improvement over being ignored when you ask a question, Despina thinks. Aloud, she says, "Oh, I read some, work on my book a little, and 'horse around' a lot."
"Will you come to Arizona with me? You should not be facing any danger. My people need you." He stares at her face intently.
Pasting on a smile to hide behind, she thinks furiously. Go with him? Not as a girl friend, nor as a wife... Not judging by his actions here over the past six months... Facing danger? Danger here or danger there? Danger living without a man around for protection? "Doing what?"
Surprised, he gives her his typical one word answer, "Teaching," as if that were the only possibility in the world.
Danger teaching? Gun toting tots to teach? Tomahawk practice at recess? Let's scalp Teacher today?
"How do you know they need a summer school teacher?"
"They always need teachers," he explains in what is for him a veritable geyser of words.
"If Leanna doesn't pitch too big a fit about having to shoulder the whole load here after giving over her spring and summer to caring for granddad."
- -- from Despina's Infamous Green Journal, 1/1/02
Last updated 7/18/15 Dropped 's side from husband's side. Changed from past tense to present.
3/8/10 Corrected knockout. Changed sure to certainly, that wind to the strong north wind, and is to seems. 2/7/10 Changed the second time walking along appeared only a few paragraphs apart to hiking in the interests of variety where attractive alternatives exist. Added another paragraph that showed how their relationship progressed (or didn’t) before Christmas (sydneydaile ) Another advantage of that addition is that it highlights a CHANGE in his nightly behavior that reinforces her mental conclusion that he’s still touchy about home that got inadvertently orphaned with I concatenated the material. (1/28/10 More detail to help Where’sMeKilt. 1/25/10 covered Where’sMeKilt’s concerns… hopefully. 6/9/08 added "again"; 8/19/06. (...play the leading man in a movie...; -- 8/12/06. ...father hated animals...; ,,,one eyebrow raised in question.; ...surprise (delete when he showered); ...sleeve rolled up, depositing them...; "Would you like to take advantage of the cheaper holiday rates to call someone special?" she ventured at supper the night before.; giving over her spring and summer to caring for granddad." 1/7/06.)
Word Count: 1908
Reading Level: 4.7