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Open Faces Three


Swinging Doors


Richard is in Tara’s early tonight, early enough to see the 9 to 5 folk who stop in, stopping by, and who come in to stretch out sensibilities foreshortened by another day spent turning the inch wheel another inch along the way. They’re never in for long. They’ll have a first slow drink, maybe a quick second, before slipping back out the door on their way home. Richard’s hunch is that they come in hoping to find the last tangent of a dream-space before the crusty eyes of sleep put an end to their day. Maybe they would, then, be going home, still looking for a smile to save them in the pretty face of a dream bird they last saw that morning. Or, maybe, it is a book waiting for them underneath the arc of a reading lamp. Maybe, instead, it is a television movie, a jogging turn around the block, a game of hoops, handball, or tennis played down at the armory. And, maybe, theirs is just a homeowner’s knack for keeping them moving between posts of predictable places.

For now, however, they sit in Tara’s, or mill through the room, wearing dusted off work shirts, or with their ties and white collars loosened. The shop-keeping women sit here too, as smartly dressed as they had been in the morning, but with saucer eyes made a little bigger from a day spent looking out shop windows. Their eyes are always like the eyes of sparrows. There are also the professional women still wearing their gray, beige, or navy blue tailored suits, the same suits as are designed with a certain take-me-seriously persona in mind. And they all still keep to their separate stations, even in Tara’s, and still not letting go of a day’s occupations. The professionals, the workers, and the casually dressed entrepreneurs, all of them slowly getting stoned while the music speakers pulsate in the range of thirty years of rock n roll. And the hour in which they half-way want to peel away the layers of another drying day is what every bar knows as happy hour.


Some while has gone by since Richard was last in Tara’s. He has come in early tonight to tell a part of the story he isn’t certain has any bearing on what goes on in here. Maybe this is why he let himself easily be drawn to the table of acquaintances when he first entered the door.

Sean was away somewhere for most of the last week. Or, maybe, he had been keeping inside the garden he makes of his beachside cottage. Richard had covered for him, working his night shifts at the Jacaranda. There probably isn’t another man like Sean in the way he has for making green things grow. He isn’t exactly a gardener, and he never tries to cultivate his plants, or turn them into shapes and configurations that wouldn’t naturally suit them. It is more that Sean is a nurturer, a nourisher of seasonally unfolding things. There seems to be a second genius in the man, or a quiet urge standing behind an ancient horseman’s instinct. It is in the effortless way Sean has for taking a hibiscus, say, all but killed by a last year’s cold snap, for persuading it to put out its arms again, to try again, to even flower for another silly time. And the shefaleras, the ferns, the potted palms, all of the house plants that might be doing a green tour of duty in other peoples’ homes, at Sean’s place are wholly their own. They can be like children having grown too big, and still not leaving home. Sean would simply put them, then, into a larger pot, or move a table, a chair, a lamp out of their way. And the garden of his cottage is the only place where Sean seems at ease with himself. The Alhambra of his beachside bungalow where, outside, the sun can scorch the sand dunes; but where, inside, there is always a sense of unmeasurably gentle, unimpeded growth. And Sean’s second genius is in the way he has for giving growing things over to themselves, or for opening up an umbrella out over them and letting them go their silvery leafed, new green way. It is the inside ring of Sean, something like the mixing point of his being, another way of seeing how the color green would always be at the middle of the rainbow. But Richard has come into Tara’s to tell a part of the story having nothing to do with Sean, or with the workings of a musical paradise. It has nothing to do with these things, except it is a double hinged doorway through which Richard has started to look at everything around him. And he had joined a table of happy hour friends, still uncertain of where to begin.


They were sitting around a high table next to the empty, early hour stage. Richard walked over only to say hello, just to say hello. He should have known that, with Hugh in their company, he wouldn’t say no when one of them asked if he would like a drink. There are too few people like Hugh to ever pass him by with an indifferent nod. His is one of those singular souls around which conversations turn and turn without meaning to. So Richard pulled up a stool, and he waited for their conversation to come into a place where he could meet with them.

There were four other passengers with Hugh this evening. There was a Scotsman named Dudley who, at age thirty-three, is a retired nuclear engineer, and who works in a local hardware store. There was a newspaper editor everyone calls Pulitzer, and whose long fingernails give him the look of a storybook’s Chinese mandarin. There was a photographer named Mickey who has a shop on the beachside of town, but who, from all accounts, spends most of his day riding a motorcycle and with a camera slung over his shoulder. And there was Monica who works as a loan officer in the town’s second largest bank. They looked as if they had been there for awhile, or long enough, at least, to have melted one or two layers of daytime strangeness. As best Richard could figure, they had been talking about love-time attachments. All that Richard could tell, however, was that Mickey had been saying as how, after nine years of marriage, he only saved himself by surgically removing his emotions, one by one. But Monica asked Dudley why he didn’t accept a recent job offer to build a new nuclear power plant in China. He replied it was for the same reason he left his profession in the first place. He said he just didn’t need the kind of stress that comes with the job. Hugh then looked at Dudley as they Scotsman made his answer to a casual query, and it was a real time look Hugh gave. Hugh asked their Scottish friend to tell them the truth, adding he knows how much stress a Scotsman can take, and that he doesn’t really believe him. It was one of those moments that can suddenly become conspiratorial. All of Dudley’s table friends were quickly expecting a reply to a question they hadn’t even known about a moment before. Even the music speakers’ prerecorded music checked itself, got silent, before catching hold of another rhythm, another tune.

Dudley let out a sigh, as if willing to relieve himself of a technician’s burden. Looking at Hugh as straight as a man can, he began by saying he made the mistake of going back to nuclear beginnings, of rereading the texts having come before the manuals. Then his gaze fell far off and away, far off and away somewhere in the tiny, explosive world he had left behind him, and he said with a tinny laugh his reading must have lost for him his faith in the controlling illusions of his meters, gauges, and valves. When he had been sitting back in his control room, he said, and looking at his lighted boards and panels through the excited, half-frightened eyes of those first atomic discoverers, he realized the dancing needles were not telling him very much about the quantum actions violently set into motion. Worst of all, he let out, was realizing they never could, and that the whole proposition of supplying civilization with that kind of electricity is intimately involved with one of science’s most reliable uncertainties. He said he finally understood he could never know what an atomic technician most needs to know when he needs to know it. He never can at the same time know where and how fast the particular actions he sets into motion are going. He could choose, he said, between one or the other. He could know where or how fast, but he can never know where-how-fast. And it is all because of an impish uncertainty living deep inside his reactors. As beautiful as any open ended proposition can be, she is also as unknowable. And she lives in places where he could, maybe, follow her; even, and for awhile, to the core of her. But he can never know her. And so how, he suddenly asked his friends, could he ever hope to control her?

No one had expected a lesson in quantum mechanics as answer to a truth hungry question. It looked as if they would all need awhile to digest a straight seeing Scotsman’s information. They all sat at the table more quietly than it usually seems possible for bar room friends to be, just as they broke another rule of happy hour meetings. Which is that you never let anyone string together more than twenty-five consecutive words in conversation. But there it was on the table for them to see. Pulitzer was working a cigarette laced between stained fingers. Monica hovered over the pool of her thoughts in a way Richard has seen her to do before: hovering with a huntress’s aim for what she would take home. Mickey stared through the window like a slow speed shutter locked on a dark-in-shadow face, even if it seemed there was something else having play with him. And it wasn’t long before he left on his motorcycle, saying he wanted to try to take some pictures of a moon beam. So, as always, it was left up to Hugh to bring them back to the rapid succession of now-times running in on them; a service he rendered in his usual fashion of ordering another round of drinks.

Richard was looking, by then, for a vacant table. Just somewhere he could step inside the part of the story having nothing to do with what goes on in Tara’s. He kept an eye on the comings and goings, waiting for a table to become free, while letting himself inside the mood of Tara’s night coming on. And so he wasn’t really listening to what was being said at the table. Pulitzer, needing more information on certain uncertainties, asked questions of Dudley. The Scotsman, in his turn, finally asked the journalist which would he rather be? In an out-of-control car travelling at eight [sign in to see URL]. or one travelling at eighty? Getting up from the table with helmet in hand, while saying goodnight, Mickey turned to the editor and said – It’s the threshold, my man. - And Hugh was talking to Monica, in a tone low enough so that no one could hear him, when a spiny kind of laughter came out of the lady. Then Hugh left the table, shaking his head, and going to stand at the bar with a couple of other friends. Richard hadn’t meant to, but he found himself staring at Monica. Then she leaned towards him, telling him a thing he wasn’t certain she should have shown him. Richard still wonders why she shared her rock n roll secret with someone she had never seen outside a bar. Or is this just the sort of thing you can safely talk about while inside Tara’s walls?
Dec/26/2010, 2:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces Three


Monica started by saying it looks as if Hugh would leave her to the night they had planned together. She laughed, she said, when she saw that a great sailor, and a lover of pleasurable things, was fairly well running from her. It was just funny, she said, and a shame. She would never have guessed that a master of the seas would let himself be checked by anything, much less a middle aged woman in a backwater town who happens to have a portrait of a music man hanging over her bed. That was basically it, she said, the portrait. Hugh wanted to know if it still hangs where he last saw it. She told him it does. He asked if she still wouldn’t make an exception for him and turn it to face the wall. She said she still can’t. And so her sailor man walked away from her while shaking his head, and she wondered, she said, how long she will wait to see if he will still sit with her.

The man is a lover, she said. He knows better than most how to sail the seas. And she always would enjoy the pleasures he can give. But the portrait is a friend, Monica started again. It never has left her on an outgoing tide. Besides, it knows her moods. It knows when she is happy, when she is sad, and when she needs to hide under the covers from daily indifferences and little hurts. A friend made the portrait of the music man who sings songs about blue eyes crying in the rain. And it is better, Monica said, than having an album cover to place in front of her while listening to his songs. And how could she turn him away, she wanted to know, for a sailor’s jib, or, even, for a sailor’s dawn, when he has stayed with her all this time; never asking of her more than she can give, and always letting her be what she most needs to be? It is just a portrait, a suspended feeling held above her head. But it has sometimes helped her go places she has never seen before, and to feel things no other man has made her feel. A sailor man, Monica said with a quiet kind of resolve, will just have to understand.

It wasn’t much longer before Monica left Tara’s place for home. Telling her table friends goodnight, she went to where Hugh stood, and she spoke with him a word or two before walking out the door. She walked on out the door, it seemed to Richard, in fullest possession of where she was going. Richard has rarely seen her stay through the changing hour, the hour that was then coming on, when the lighter hearts of Tara’s evening give way to the more deeply mixed shades of night. And he thinks she told him some part of her reason for not staying on. There is something else to the secret Monica gave over, something in the laughing that came out of her unaware. It is as if Richard has just been introduced to a leading lady’s perfect lover, the one who will never leave her, and who can still open up for her the subterranean springs of her own swollen nature. It is also the new night’s surprise Richard took to the corner table that became free, and leaving Dudley with a Chinese mandarin to work out the explosively fine print of atomic energies. And he has decided that, maybe, he will try to follow the curve Monica just threw him before coming back to, hoping to step through, the double hinged doorway he has come in tonight to describe. So how is he to fathom this picture of ecstatic longing a professionally dressed loan officer just unveiled in Tara’s room like a mystical bride of Christ, and whose lines of longing could as easily been sculpted by some baroque artist privy to a woman’s ecstasies and high feelings?

Richard’s feeling is that he has seen Monica’s picture before. In different likenesses, but always striking a similar pose. It doesn’t seem to matter which of rock n roll’s guises a music man might be wearing, so long as the chords he plays are tuned to finding, in a woman like Monica, the right musical response, itself leading her out of herself. There is no question but that rock n roll’s musical stage has more than its share of lyrical Christ-types and dark eyed princes, of smoothly swinging journeymen and street singing outlaws. But what Richard doesn’t know, maybe what he can’t know, is where these tone painting men take a nation’s quieter women. They are like pied pipers in the way they can lead rock n roll ladies, one by one, out of town. And it always seems that after she has gone to that secret place where she can never stay for long, but that never fades away, a rock n roll woman comes back home nobody’s wife, no man’s girl Friday. She’ll come back having shared in something, newly versed in a desire whose language she had only guessed at before, and that will never leave her, or betray her; and that, in her turn, she’ll not betray. Like Monica who demanded of a sailorman he understand. So where is it they will have gone to, and riding on the Arabian steed of a musical dream, to make them come back so differently?

It is as if an incubus born of a song takes them away from a gray-time world of regrets and near misses, takes them to a whisper-time-town somewhere. To an underground city, an El Dorado, or a Moorish cavern tucked behind some gypsy lover’s mountainside. To a place of liquid arches and shiny light dreams where the sorely felt aching of absence, separation, and longing can find no business dealings to be trading on. And a rock n roll woman can always keep her feelings secreted there, knowing the attentions of her silky toned knight will always stay with her there. When the time comes, when the midnight hour strikes, the banshee cry of a saxophone turns the page for her, or the spinning wheel of a record finishes describing the grooves of its smallest circle, she comes back to a home no longer the beginning and end of her time. She might even, and suddenly, feel free enough to pursue her own nature selfishly, to keep going back to, to keep following those lines of longing, until she finds a way into a sunny side valley of enchanted time that just might treat her a little less indifferently. Richard gets that he doesn’t know about these things, that he is mostly guessing. Just as he has lately realized he doesn’t know much at all about the content of a rock n roll woman’s quieter nature; that place where everything becomes a double life of dreams in the mist, of painted princes, and of stained glass kisses, at least as one rock n roll woman’s band sings it on the radio. Or of the cities of quivering garden walks hanging from the strings of a street lamp. And so, maybe, he should back track away from the curve Monica threw him. Maybe he should try, instead, to step through the doorway he came in to describe, the one starting to look like an old woman being cradled in a young girl’s arms even if he still can’t figure out how to begin.



Dec/27/2010, 9:41 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces Three


Richard’s daughter lives in the hazy blue mountains some eight hundred miles from his seaside town. She goes to school, plays her games, reads her books while listening to radio songs through head phones, dances the way she can to make herself a butterfly, a fairy, or a tree; and she alternates between giggling fits of energy and the kind of easy lassitude that one day makes childhood a delicious memory. She can also act out her funny stories, such as how bunnies get turned into goons.

The last time Richard had Jennifer for her summer vacation she stayed with him in his seaside town. They went fishing, walked around the old part of town, swam in the surf. They took a boat ride down the river running behind the coastline’s barrier peninsula. And they spent their nights sitting, talking, reading, and eating. They also had a number of those really quiet moments that can as quietly take a man by surprise. Such as how it was watching Jennifer swimming in the surf when the ocean is not so calm, and seeing how the waves buffeted her around, and how she showed no fear. Or when Richard had been surf fishing along the same stretch of the beach, or casting his bait net out, she swimming just down from him. And she called back to him, then, to bring the net where she waded, since, the minnows were swimming all around her, nipping at her toes. There was also the morning when he woke to find Jennifer already up. She sitting in a big, brown reading chair, big enough to swallow her up, and reading a book of Indian tales while listening to her radio songs. He stood there staring at her, emotions wholly open, and more awake than if she had thrown cold water on him. Then, on their last night together, they sat out on the balcony of Richard’s garage apartment. They made a pact with each other so quiet it is only now coming through.

It started out, innocently enough, when Jennifer told Richard she was relieved to see he hadn’t changed. She said she was glad to see he is still her same old daddy. Richard asked her what she meant, and she replied she was sometimes afraid he would settle down. It was one of those comments certainly bound to take an errant father by surprise, and he laughed at the picture of it; thinking, also, that within the thicket of a child’s emotions, it is an image of daddy love Jennifer seemed to be most comfortable with. So he told her they should make a pact. Without even waiting to hear what it might be, Jennifer said she could agree. So much trust. He then told Jennifer he would never change, he would remain the changing same, if she promised she would always keep to what it is she wants to be. She didn’t even flinch at the proposal. Her eyes widened a little to take in the prospect, and her smile grew as broad as it could. She stuck out her hand. Shaking his she said – It’s a deal -. Richard remembers having worried a little over signing his life away over such a young girl’s song. And he figured she understood, since, on the day of their boat ride, she easily grasped his answer about water displacement to her question about why boats don’t sink. It also seems to Richard that hers might be the harder part of the bargain to keep. And what comes back in on Richard in a widening kind of ripple is some idea of the cellular doorway a young girl’s pertinent comment started opening for him, even how Jennifer was already so willing to start dancing her life away.

This seems to be what it is, even if Richard doesn’t know how to explain it. Just a cellular kind of doorway, a certain way of body thinking. A kind of doorway that only opens in a moment’s perfectly quiet way and the whole body thinks its way through. It is something deeper, this body-way thinking, then even the kind of instinctive thinking that constantly ebbs and flows in a man, and that can give ground while taking back any of the stretches of shorelife he misnames a birthright. Richard swears it is with cellular eyes he had looked inside those quiet moments, and looking at the child things Jennifer easily instructs herself in. Such as when she was teaching herself to let herself get carried along in the surf. And maybe it is with cellular eyes Richard is also looking through a swinging doorway of before and behind that, again he swears, constantly swings from backwards to forwards. And back again. Maybe seeing with these eyes is like seeing with the eyes of a rain drop. Richard can wonder how the world must look through the eyes of a raindrop, or how the world must feel to a raindrop getting absorbed in its dark and thirsty heart. And he figures his mother could tell him what it is like, since, she had gone out in a rainstorm, the worst of the summer, that spawned out of a hurricane, she always did love a hurricane, that swung its way around and through the Straights of Florida, until it turned about and swung out towards the delta lands of Alabama, her ancestral home, to pour out its tumultuous heart taken up again like a raindrop being absorbed inside the earth. Richard seems to be seeing, and looking through, the backward door of a mothering/daughtering/granddaughtering kind of time. Just as those quiet moments with Jennifer brought him into a past-future that looked like an old moon being cradled in a young girl’s charms, or like a silvery, smiling faced girl imperceptibly, cellularly describing the path she will take in her own full time. Richard remembers the last time he saw his old crone of a mother before she slipped away like a young girl on the wind. He was with his family to take her ashes to an inlet of the sea. A depositing place she had requested. They went in the flamingo pink hour of sunset, what had always been her favorite hour of the day. They threw her ashes over the water. An offshore breeze blew them back into the saltwater marshland where so much of the sea’s life gets spawned. They had disturbed a great blue heron when they first arrived at the water’s edge. They had even stopped unintentionally at the spot from where that great blue had flown. And when the time came to leave the sea, the box of ashes empty, when the warming winds of night closed over an ash sprinkled tidewater, the great blue came wheeling back from behind a sand dune, returning to her original strand of hard sand. It was when Richard finally believed, at least on a body-talk level, what a willful old woman never tired of telling anyone who would listen. That death is a lie. As unnatural as physicists say rest is, as much nonsense as philosophers say logic is, as unreal as a man’s perceptions sometimes tells him reality is.



Dec/31/2010, 2:08 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces Three




Richard is coming back into Tara’s room. He steps back through the double-hinged doorway, comes back inside a rock n roll world that still seems to be reaching back to a deeper garden inside its deepest grove. The bar finally starts to move about with its late night travelers and music lovers. The band taking on the place tonight is already getting into the swing of its special brand of rock n roll, and it will soon be wholly inside the motive strains and riffs of its music making. As sultry as a blues song slowly coming in from off the savannah, as wild eyed as a Tennessee marauding raid, as driven as an all night train ride through the deltavilles and mountain towns on the old Southern Crescent. Even sometimes as wistful as a slender ankled dawn, or as promising as a snaking red river reaching underneath a bridge for something someone, at some time, was the first to call southern comfort. How else is there to describe the day lonely blues and hard rolling rhythms of southern rock?

Richard doesn’t think he’ll stay around for much longer. He already chased the last of his whiskey with a cup of coffee. He thinks he wouldn’t mind going down to the river wall where he can watch the boat lights bobbing in the darkness like so many pearl drops, where he can listen to the night herons screeching as they come from out of the darker marsh reaches. A screech so pencil sharp it always pierces the body. Besides, he isn’t quite ready to let go of the night’s cellular kind of thinking, of a young girl’s innocence, of quiet moments, or of an old woman’s even more childish insolence in the face of something she never believed in. He is as drunk from this double way of looking at things as he thinks he’s ever been. Almost as drunk as the emotions of rock n roll can make him feel when the music bounces off the walls like so many particles in a physicist’ s accelerator.

Out on the porch and a footnote on the night. Richard has just seen the sailor man off into his own night’s sea dream. Hugh came over to Richard’s table when they were still both inside. To say goodnight, and to ask if Monica had told him about her painting. When Richard replied she had, Hugh wanted to know what he thinks about it all. Deciding to deflect the question, Richard said he has been a tourist in such places too long to know anymore. Besides, he thought, how can he ever make adequate explanation, even to Hugh, of what he found to think about it all? So they let the subject go and they walked out the door together. Saying goodnight on the porch, Hugh looked as if he needed a little encouragement to get him to where he wanted to be. Richard then told the sailor man standing on dry land that he didn’t think Hugh is in any danger of getting confused with a leading lady’s perfect lover. Hugh flashed back his best Errol Flynn imitation of a grin as he stepped onto the sidewalk.

Dec/31/2010, 3:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 




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