I got her back. That's all that matters, the moments leading up to seeing her face, curvy blown hair running over her face, sleeping, gone, goner, and her body in fetal, silent like the night she met. I tried to imagine nothing had happened in the past forty-eight hours, but it did, I felt it everywhere, my blood still carried the signs of distress, and wondered how fragile this very moment was. I sat at the edge of the bed and ran my fingers through her hair, they caught and I gently removed them. She budged a bit, as if digging her face into sand. I tucked her in and started cleaning the room, then the rest of the apartment. After that I went out to grab a few things: food, a couple of books, and some fresh fruit grown from all around (they were there for the taking).
After San Juan and I parted ways, which was sometime after the hospital visit, we met back up that very night, we returned to the bar lost in the valley, and this time we met no resistance, it was clear and obvious Sandy was there, I knew it the moment San Juan led us there the night before. The bartender from the previous night wasn't there, the bouncers were though, and instead of dog-eyed stares we were greeted with passive exchanges, like we somehow gained their respect. San Juan approached the replacement bartender, I was introduced to Carl G., but we never shook hands, he just led me up to the rooms upstairs. San Juan stayed downstairs, and Carl G. stopped at the top of the stairs, pointing to the open door at the end of the hallway. As I approached the door I took small breathes, thinking that she might not be there, I had to ready myself for disappointment, like I often do and I am not proud of it it's just a mentality I've gained over the years; self-defense. Through the doorway flesh met the eye as a toe grew into a foot a foot grew into a leg a leg grew into a bum and a bum grew into a waist and the rest followed. I was reminded of the first time I had seen her, she had a wicked bod, enough to fall for, but I didn't, I resisted it as I made my way over to talk to her first, feeling like there is much more. There was more. I entered the room as if it were a crime scene, I pictured a camera panning overhead like the climax of Taxi Driver, though without the blood or dead bodies, just the discovery of something that happened throughout the night.
I carried her on my back all the way up the mountain path, had to take breathers now and then, put eventually we made it. I laid on the bed, watching for any sign she was able to move, to grab my hand, to even blink, she just stared endlessly into my eyes, crazy eyes. She gave me some signs she was still with us, she spoke softly, with words rolling off of her tongue delivering every statement as a question. They were the words spoken, broken through the philm of one world into another, a sleepwalker, errr, sleep-rester in her case. She'd roll over to one side then to the next, her movement seemed foreign, and occasionally she'd get up to go to the bathroom and return back to bed. Everything scared me at first, like she was possessed, something else was powering her body as it moved, her words were otherworldly, and though I had found her she was still lost.
In town I checked the PO BOX, in there I was surprised to see a letter from an old friend. When was the last time I had heard or seen Philip, the memories between then and now rushed by me in a gust of wind, in that vision I saw a long and windy road which represented my runaway with Carla, the cities we saw, the hotels we stayed in, sleeping in the bed of my El Camino, the endless and monotonous road, then it crawled into darker regions, the end of one life and the beginning of another, Sandy Beaches, that one was still fresh, still slapping around the boat trying to escape, I bite it by the neck and held on for while being slapped in the face, the pain reminded me my hold is an illusion eventually it will have to be let go. I headed back to the apartment and read the letter on my walk.
First things first get ready for an unpleasant letter. As you hold this piece of paper you may or may not be ready to read what is going to be said, in the mean time I'll just lighten it up with my formal response to you. Thanks for your letter, it reached me, and I looked up to the moon and howled a bit. It has been too long, amigo. I don't want to say anything generic here, but I hope you're doing well, I'm sure you're in trouble, the good kind of trouble. You remember that saying, I remember you strutting down the street, singing then whistling, "Trouble with a capital T, ya know you don't wanna mess with me-he-he-he". I miss those days, and the one thing that keeps all those memories from fading is I know our time, our good times are no where near to end. I'm sorry I can't make it out to you, not now, not for a while, I got too much work on my hands, and I got myself a girl too. No kids, no where near that, but you know, bro, eventually, right? So with that outta the way, the rest of this is shit, it will probably ruin your day, and I hope with me telling all of this it lessens the stock.
Carla is dead. Car accident. Ran off the highway, off of a cliff. Nowhere near here, no, this was far away, and the only way I found out about it was a letter I received from the state trooper's office in Nebraska saying your car had been destroyed, and that the person in it was now deceased. There were more details, I included that letter in the attachments. They did find alcohol in her blood, but the way it happened it could have been a plain out accident, that she just didn't see the road, it was a dangerous one too, I checked on streetview. Look, I am sorry to have to tell you all of this, but I knew I had to tell you, for you to know, you must know, she was your past, and your past never dies.
Come visit, me and the guys miss you, you should see Theo, wouldn't recognize him.
I stood there, lost, confused, something deep down inside of me which laid dormant and silent woke up. The lower half of my heart felt a sharp pain. I continued to walk, lost in thought. I had twenty minutes to forget all of that, my past did die, I did not want to enter that room with any of it on my hands, on my mind, in my heart, no not my heart. I found it hard to remember Carla's face, her smile, the way wind moved her dress as we drove on. The feelings never did come back, just the shivered ends wiggled around on the ground like fallen power lines. I had successfully cut that part of me, now all that remained was a bitterness in its place, an alcohol produced from an end of terms. When I reached the apartment I reached a peace with myself, all I wanted was to honor our cherished moments. Hidden away a box of photographs collected dust in the closet, many of which were taken on the road with Carla. I looked through them all. I saw the photos as an outsider, I was a different person then, this, as I pointed to a picture of myself smiling, wasn't me, nor the one with me pissing off the side of the road, he was old familiar someone I used to hang out with but now I couldn't stand him, or what he believed in. The fool.
I don't know what possessed me to show Sandy a part of my past, especially an old dig, but those moments still meant something to me, it made up who I am today, through success but mostly failure. Sandy barely moved, I just set things down beside the bed. At times I'd have to leave, something stuck the sadness in me, seeing her like that, the glow was gone or too dim to see. I knew it wasn't the end, no, it was the valley between two peaks, where we're both lost, and yet we're still in it together. Mud and all, stick by stick.
It had been about two weeks, I started to work a week ago, I made my rounds by the apartment as much as I could, Sandy remained the same, confined to the bed. In hidden moments she looked through the photographs and did the best job she could making sure it appeared to be untouched. I knew she was moving around, she wasn't dead, she just wasn't herself, or perhaps the self I wanted her to be. At night I'd take these walks, walking up the mountain, it was a little scary but at the same time I felt safe, like no harm would come even if a panther suddenly appeared out of the bush it would look me in the eyes and I'd look back, telling it I did not fear the reaper in a moment of telepathy, we came to terms with each other, a sort of momentary respect as I understood his kingdom of the jungle and he understood my kingdom of the village. Dark circles were gone, replaced with longing, oh I longed, and longed I did. That spark, that feeling we had, put on hold, she was the beginning of my summer, she was the end of it as well. Alpha and Omega, cosmic tango, electric field safari, come fly me to the moon, and spring on Jupiter. I closed my eyes, set myself up for sleep on my half of the bed. I looked out the window until all was gone, I felt myself drift away.
A light switch flick sound, soft foot steps, a dip in the bed, and arms suddenly around me, her face pressed up against swallow of my back, an energy which took me, I was taken, I was flying. My heart ran a steady slow tick as I felt her fingers interlock with mine, no words, no thoughts, just silence, just this. Like a surfboard catching the wave, it starts to glide over water like butter on hot toast, it is the perfect grind, friction, friction-less, the feeling that rushes your toes, makes its way to your heart, it pumps and it goes, oh-oh-oh how wonderful, like kissing the blades of swelling water and being a part of the force for one moment, for one ride, I turned around and faced her, I was absolutely sane, I was totally insane, for her.
We. were. back. And so ended summer, frozen moments shattered, a tidal wave crash, a mystic moon on the banks of the horizon, hovering and diving, diving, dip and float, the air in the night, the mountain so high, I can feel it all, yes, I say with my smile, singing like some scene from the Sound of Music, I am Julie Andrews, these are my kids, let us dance, and sing, under the stars. The Hills Are Alive (with the sound of music). And These, my friends, are a few of my fav-vor-rite things.