St. Valentine 2020 (part ii)

“A man fainted,” the diner at table 7 tells me.

I look around. The fellow I seated at table 1 is lying on the ground. Flat on his back.

It is Valentine’s Day before noon. There are balloons everywhere. A pink and red rose vased at every table.

We just finished breakfast service. They were one on the first lunch service tables.

I had just pulled the jar of freezer jam from their table.

~

I recognize that I am seeing a man in full cardiac arrest.

I fly to the back office and tell the owner.

She calls 911.

When I returned, over him,

a crowd of people stood and stared.

“If you aren’t a doctor or medical practitioner, sit down and give him space,” I yell.

“Nurse practitioners,” says a diner from table 12, motioning to herself and a companion.

He rips the man’s shirt open and begins CPR.

She asks me, “Do you have a <insert gibberish here> machine?”

“A what?”

“A <insert gibberish here> machine!?”

“A what?!”

“Shock paddles. Do you have an emergency defibrillator?!”

“No.”

“Go find one. Try the bank.”

~

And, yes. He already looked like a ghoul, when he entered.

Bloated and sweaty. Too pale.

Fat and very old.

Her companion withdraws from giving CPR and says, “it’s been one minute.”

His female companion resumes CPR immediately.

“Go!” he says to me.

St. Valentine 2020 (part i)

Thursday night, a fellow comes in for a gift certificate to the bistro.

He is from California, visiting.

Getting a gift for his local BampersandB host family.

He drinks an IPA at the bartop.

The bartender, he, and, I talk about a San Franciso hospital.

The one where the bartender had been born.

Where his parents had paid for a brick with his initials to be laid.

The hospital I could see while eating in the Embarcadero, when working in insurance.

The hospital this gentleman could see from his current home.

As he leaves, I happen to be at the entrance.

“I just had the best twenty minutes. Before coming here, I was at the marina by the shore of Puget Sound. Would it be okay if I show you my picture and poem I wrote?” he asks.

“Nothing would please me more.”

We sit on the bench in the entryway together.

The poem is pretty damn good. The first line includes “pilgrim places.” The picture is of the sunset.

The final word is Selah. It is Hebrew.

“It suggests forever; but, it also means like a rock or stop and listen,” he says.

“Like an exhalation or the interval and the rest in musical notion?”

“Yes! If I have a daughter, I will name her Selah,” he says .

“Spoken, it sounds lot like c’est la vie,” I add.

He smiles.

“Fist bump?” I offer my fist.

He makes a complimentary gesture and presses his knuckles to mine.

“Thanks for sharing.”

“Thanks for the first bump.”

His chest swells.

He smiles; then, breathes out.

~

She takes coffee here

The burn of the glare of a mal-humored bend of sunlight

coming through slats of blinds.

Water boiling in a pot before being poured over the Hummingbird blend.

Coffee soon with heavy creamer.

Thighs still sore from quaking.

Ass still sore from tightening in nervous tension.

Cheeks still sore from smiling so hard for so long.

(And, she looks for some sort of transition here,)

And, finding none,

She moves to the

Room under the moon.

ill-suited.

He looked terrifically out of place, dressed like that, here on the trail.

She was a bit irritated at the utter distraction of him.

Yet, he was fascinating.

But, she was trying to take a walk through the woods down to the fish ladder of the old mill creek; and, here was a man in a three piece suit, postured in repose on the sopping bank, as though prostrating before some ancient pagan god.

And, from across the salmon’s spawning pond, she espied that while his necktie was perfectly knotted, the color and pattern of it did not suit his suit.

Not in the slightest.

Off-rack; Tailor made. Beholden; Bespoke

He just sat there. Brutally still, Unnaturally, there in the tall grass.

Loafers in the mud. Simply wearing all the wrong clothes.

She imagines he must be a terrible dancer.

And, she suddenly wants to interrupt him and ask for a dance.

Hosting tuesday

I walk in the back door of the kitchen to the little bistro.

Announcing hellos to the line and the singing chef.

“What are we going to do today, Casey?” the chef asks me.

“Same thing we do everyday day, Hector. Try to take over the world,” I reply.

He resumes his singing in Spanish.

Ponchito sings harmony.

~

The Beach Preservation Busy Body Society is buzzing on coffee at 10:00 a.m.

“Thanks for asking, Judy. Not great, but I’ve switched to Metamucil,” says Jeanie, still recovering from hip surgery, amongst other things.

“Perseverance!” says Judy.

~

I start a fresh pot of decaf. I snatch up the urn of caffeinated, good stuff (Tony’s, Songbird blend).

I go around warming up people’s morning cup as a priest pouring sacrament.

Paul, an ex-New York state prosecutor, is holding court at table one. A two top right by the window.

“What the hell are you doing at this table?!” I tease.

He never eats at Table 1. He does breakfast at table 6 when playing chess and he does his business lunches at table 21. Both in the back, albeit opposite sides of the dining room. Table 21 is in the bar. Table six is not.

“Well, I figured if I sat up by the window, I’d attract people in for you,” he says.

I don’t recognize his companion, but after five months I know Paul well enough to say, “You are a pretty thing.” Turning to his companion, I say, “He is, right?”

The man squirms; Paul cracks up.

“He usually eats there or there,” I say motioning directly. “Fancies himself something of a local celebrity,” I add, walking off.

~

Coffees warmed, tables reset, and empty plates cleared, I perform my morning ablutions: sweeping the front mat in the entryway, cleaning the glass free of sticky smudges from syrupy fingers.

Showing the nearly hundred year old building extra love and attention.

It’s all in the details, innit?

Polished brass and dusted, wooden ledges.

Thriving atherium.

Persevering.

~

I sweep the outside mat, leading directly off of Main Street.

“Hey, it’s the auctioneer,” one of a pair of joggers says.

The locals finally accept me.

The line to the bistro regularly overflows onto the high street.

I usually run a waiting list by ten a.m.

The best system I’ve uncovered is to yell from the sidewalk:

Table for so-and-so going once.

Table for so-and-so going twice.

Table for so-and-so SOLD to the next party.

It is a pragmatic thing.

For when that absentee party I called, invariably returns, angry that their table has been given away, I have multiple witnesses who will enjoy laughing and saying, “Oh, she tried to call you.”

The other jogger notes the unfilled dog bowl we leave out.

“You need to put water in that,” says Jogger two.

“Why? You feeling thirsty?,” I think, but do not say.

Perseverance, right?

~

I slowly reset table four in order to better eavesdrop on table three’s conversation.

What writer doesn’t revel in moonlighting as a thief of the conversations of others?

“She never asked me not to leave,” he says.

“Didn’t you say anything?” she asks.

“No. It wasn’t my place.”

I overhear

I think

Persevere.

Talk of weather

“Sunlight yesterday; dreary today,” he says.

I tease, “Oh, stop with the dismal diablerie, cad. It’s not gloomy. It’s simply a winter gloaming.”

“That’s not what I meant”, he says.

“Oh, I just thought you were awful fond of talking about the weather,” I panto, innocently.

” ‘Awfully’,” he mumbles.

“You are awfully fond of talking about weather?” I giggle, in mock with brown eyebrows arched.

“No. You meant to say ‘awfully fond’. Adverb not the adjective,” he says.

I howl in laughter, “Be careful telling me what I ‘meant to say’; because, you have no idea what I intend.”

~

There once was a boy.

And, there he was until he became.

He held himself still. Held fast and listened.

There did he discover he was himself

all over again.

She smiles, unobserved, from the corner.

struck by sunlight.

The backside of the house was struck by sunlight following a cloud burst’s clearing.

Casted like spells looming, the pair of old trees guarding the home’s back door entryway, conjure a pair of ancient shadows, saying:

“We were planted nearly a hundred years ago. We saw it all. The doctor and his wife, first. They planted us as they built their shelter above the groping outpouring of our subterranean root structure,” says tree i.

“We saw him deliver the daughter right out of his own wife’s belly. Right next to the butler’s pantry. Midwife present to mediate the metaphysical nuances of old-timey, natural, live births,” says tree ii.

“He was the only doc in town, see,” ads tree i.

“And, we saw that daughter raise her children here, just as she had been raised above our roots,” says tree ii.

“And, though you bring us nothing but you, a lonely homesteader, we see how you learn to erect the ether of your own root’s structure,” says tree i.

“Yes, discovering the dimensions of your pyramide before constructing,” tree ii.

Build your radix for me, priapus.

Show us the wasted seed of what could have been the next generation.