Wednesday, May 20, 2015
The Road to Andalusia (Blogophilia 13.8)
The black Benz made the turn into the garage, its driver mildly irritated. How did he get roped into this trip? The plan was to soak in the hot tub until 12 and do some golf. But, no. Martha called and said her car was in the shop again and she needed a ride to some book event. All she did was read books and write poetry. Even the law practice was changed to represent authors, rather than industrial patents. It was a new challenge, dealing with real humans and their problems versus manager’s profit and loss statements.
He found her standing on the curb chatting with the Concierge. A blue peacock covered dress covered the petite frame. With a hat to match, she looked like something out a movie. It made Jerry wish he had the convertible. He pulled up next to her and got out with the engine still running. Light on his feet, he opened the door for his lady. Smiling broadly at him, she slid onto the tan leather. With a prim swivel, sandals cleared the door. Jerry returned to the driver’s seat and pushed in the Ray Charles CD. With a small rev, the car made its way out onto Peachtree St.
“So, what do you think of the ride?”
“Oh, it’s nice, Jerry.” Feeling the smooth leather seats. “About time you got a grown up car.”
“Hey, now. The SL was better than that retro whatever you got.”
“True.” A compact magically appeared in her hand. Taking off the hat, she deftly touched around her eyes. “I really need get rid of the piece of junk.”
Jerry watched as the raven curls shook under inspection. Just like a woman, always primping.
“So, where is thing that’s so important?”
Grabbing a lipstick, she traced the outside of her lips.
“Andalusia Farm is right outside Milledgeville and…”
“Wait a minute, Milledgeville?” A worried passed across Jerry’s face. “That’s where the nut house…”
“…used to be, Silly.” Her hand patted his thigh. “They closed it last year.”
Closing the compact, she smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Don’t worry; if I wanted to do that, I would have left you in the Monkey House at the zoo.”
Reaching into her handbag, Martha pulled out hard shelled bottles filled with tea. Jerry took his and dropped it into the deep console while Martha nursed hers like a cocktail. As she did, buildings devolved into houses, then to the freeway, a never ending kaleidoscope of modern life. She sighed.
“Flannery O’Connor wrote a story called “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. Yet I didn’t have to look. Mine came to me. Thanks for doing this.”
“This farm we’re going to, this her place or something?”
“Was. She died a long time ago of Lupus. She said: ‘I write to discover what I know.’ It was better than painkillers to her.” She took another sip. “After her death, the family set it up so it could be a museum and a writers retreat.”
A loud slurping noise indicated her bottle was empty. Yawning, she settled in for a nap.
“One of my clients is doing a symposium on native plants. He asked me down, because he knew I liked O’Connor’s fish out of water stories. Also, there is a galley draft ready to go to the publisher. He needs me to check some edits.”
“Anything that would be a deal breaker?’
“Nothing big. Just a section deleted because a release wasn’t signed. Anyway, I’m not worried, it should be fun.”
No more words were spoken as they drove out of town. Martha purred like a contented cat as concrete carpet slipped by. A warm feeling came over Jerry. Over the last twenty two years, no matter where he was, he was home with her. And yet, they had resisted taking the final step of marriage, each wanting to keep their independence. They had tried to explain to her old man on a trip home once, but it only ended in a screaming match. The family wanted the traditional wedding, with the party, chairs and the glass. They had run far too from that mentally back then, but now?
Four days in intensive care and a month’s recovery can shake up a lot of things.
The face, with the specks of silver twinkling along her hairline, seemed to whisper to him. Small lines tracing along the corners of her eyes beckoned. She was right; neither of them was getting younger. 46 years old and he still played like he was single. He had the grown up car, now it was time for the rest of him to follow. It was time to close this.
The small box sat in the console. He had bought while she was still in the hospital, but never could work up the nerve to do it. Would she say no? He had too much respect for her and her family to force it, and he didn’t like to feel defeated.
The entrance sat between a car lot and a hardware store just before the main part of town. He almost missed the turn, the sign lost amongst the flapping tube men and spinning targets. A hundred yards past the building, the road became a tunnel of large trees ending in a courtyard in front of a modest, white house. Goats grazed along the fence, viewing the car with some bemusement. Peacocks and Guinea Hens trotted here and there. But there was something missing.
There were no cars. The house appeared deserted and closed. He gently shook her shoulder.
“Martha, you awake?” He whispered. “Are you sure this thing was for today? I mean, we’re here, but it doesn’t look like anyone else is.”
Blinking and shrugging, she looked up.
“Oh…Let me check my day timer.” Pulling out the leather bound book, she started flipping the pages. Her eyes grew wide.
“Crap that was next Saturday. Oh, Jerry, I’m sorry.” There was a twinkle in her eyes. “Let me make it up to you.”
Grabbing her hat, she got out of the car. He dress reflected the birds as she strode purposely around to the driver’s door and opened it. She knelt down on the warm asphalt and looked up at Jerry. Concealed in her hand behind the book, was a jewelry box the same color as his. With a sigh, she revealed the simple gold band.
“Jerry Goldstein. I meant what I said about a good man. You have been my guardian and my rock ever since we both moved south. You stood up to my Father when he disapproved of us and have been with me through the better and worse parts they mention in the wedding vows. It is time to stop dancing around this. I love you with all my heart and want you to be my husband forever. Will you marry me?”
Fifteen seconds of stunned silenced followed. The grin began just inside the corners of his mouth and spread until it reached his ears. Reaching behind him, he brought his gift out and stood up. Taking her arm, he walked her to the steps of the house. Getting on his knees, he presented the small diamond flanked with rubies. He too, almost broke.
“Martha Halpern, it has been a strange journey. We ran away from traditions that we felt were not for us. We were modern people, which tradition couldn’t tame. My Uncle told me before I left home that no matter how far I ran from God, he would still be behind me, guiding my life. I laughed at that. It wasn’t until you were in the hospital; I realized the old geezer was right. You were my guide and I almost lost you. Solomon said that a good woman was like rubies. I absolutely will marry you. But will you marry a misfit like me?”
“Yes, Silly Boy.” Martha flung her arms around him and kissed him deeply. “I want to be with you forever.”
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Topic was submitted by Dave Coon.
Pic was submitted by Nina Nixon.
Pic: Top Hat, Party time, Cake, Leopard in the roses, Lady in the Living Room, Jungle Love.