Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Battery Point (Blogophilia 22.8)
Hotter than hell in the Dowager City and Armageddon was about to come from the heavens. The heat off the street was like flames of fire raging at his back. Just another summer, tourists braved the heat shopping on Market St. Everyone else decamped to Cashiers or Asheville. Him? She had made sure he didn’t have the money to leave.
Adjusting his hat, the deluge came as he cleared the door. The Battery was only a few blocks away, which was a blessing in this heat. Small wet patches turned to steam almost as soon as the water hit. The mottled gray towers of Old First Scot’s were glowering down on his sinning ass like one of Satan’s angels. Was this absolution or condemnation? It didn’t matter, the old Calvinists elders wouldn’t be part of this ceremony. She was stuck again, trying to decide between Heaven and Hell. As it was, as it is, as it ever shall be, it seemed.
A group of black kids were singing an old spiritual out of tune, bad doo wop rather than tight harmony. The rain had chased most of the listeners and he was left as the sole audience. There was no hurry. He remembered his busking days and knew these kids were doing their best, however bad it was. Mercifully, the song ended and the older kid did a little patter to get passerby interested.
“Yes, Folks, God is good and he did bless us with a little talent…”
Very little, Bob thought.
“My Brothers and I, we go from corner to corner spreading the Word for all who might want to hear…”
Throwing a couple of coins in the open guitar case, he moved on. Charleston was like other cities he had been in, so many churches and so much sin. Aristocratic rich and unwashed poor struggling to divide the wealth bestowed from above, each using religion as their staff and shield. Hypocrites, all of them. If there had been anything Bob had learned in this life, man at his core was a greedy and lustful. Anything that resembled “Justice” was just envy assuaged and just another skirmish in the war between everyone.
Approaching the park, he paused to admire the taffy colored houses. Designed to maximize the sea breeze and minimize the draconian tax structure, they were built by descendants of second sons and carpetbaggers who thought themselves aristocracy. Men admired and famous in their own time, now faded into history like the all the other dead. It really didn’t matter who you were or how much you had, dead was dead. That was the joke of life.
Just as quickly as it started, the rain ended. It was maybe 90 degrees, rather than the 102 when it started. But a good breeze had picked up off the water, cooling his neck and shoulders as he sauntered the edged sidewalk. A local fencing club was practicing. White clad warriors playing back and forth amongst the trees. Just like her. Back and forth, no side really winning. Always worrying about which one had the upper hand today. It had been eighteen months, only calling when she needed money or a shoulder to cry on.
So, which one will it be?
She sat posed like a painting on the wall at lands end, a ghost searching for the lover who would not return. There needed to be an easel, sketching the endless sea for eternity. But that wasn’t the task here. Stepping off the walk, he cleared his throat.
Turning slightly, she nodded at his existence. The blond bangs hiding her eyes, hiding her second self.
“Glad you came. I would have understood if you hadn’t.”
No slurring, that was a good thing. Crossing back over Murray, they sat on a bench overlooking the harbor, two feet of clear space between them. A light sprinkle was obscuring the view of the harbor.
“You look good. Staying sober?”
She kept her gaze toward the breakers. “For the most part. It’s a day to day thing.”
“Yeah.” And they fell silent.
The scarlet tint of her bare shoulders contrasted with her off white camisole. The slight scent of blood mixed with Chanel reach his nose. Tenderness rose unwanted from his gut and towards his head. Life was a circle again. Would they go around? He wasn’t really sure.
“Your lust has returned.”She said watching the water.
“Lust, love, what’s the difference?”
“One makes you want to kiss the sunlight, the other makes you sing to the sky.”
“And you don’t want to do either?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Tears formed at the corners of her eyes as she turned to face him. “You are a good, patient man and I’m a lowlife slut. You know I’ve been turning tricks to keep the house, right?”
More excuses. The pain began to form at Bob’s temples.
“When I moved out to Isle of Palms after the divorce, I thought I could just party thoughts of us away. Grind them into dust. But the thoughts of you and your feelings for me stayed. I have to say at my lowest points, they were comforting.”
“Is being a confessor priest all I am good for?”
“No. I…” She turned back toward the water. “Never mind. All I wanted was to see if I could be comfortable with you and I can’t.”
“I…don’t know. Everything is just so confused. Every man I’m with reminds me of you, their moans and twitches. I want it to go away. Sometimes, I think the only way for me is to die.”
He tears were flowing harder than the rain. She got up to leave. Bob gently put his arms around her waist and pulled her back.
“Sweetie, I’m here.” He softly whispered. “Let’s kiss the sky together.”
Pic-Colleen Keller Breuning.
Pic Guesses: Breakers (in blog), endless sea (in blog), water (in blog), beach, surf, Sunny afternoon, Frolicking, Skinny dip.