Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 3

The plot thickens.
What do you call it when you have sailing, and fantasy, and maybe, perhaps, some romance?
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 3
I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. None of this could really be happening. It had to be all a dream. There was no such thing as supernatural power, no magic, no evil Others, none of it. “All I want to do now is go home,” I said. “I’m no superhero, and I never will be.”
“Leaving here now would be a very bad idea,” Runyon said. “But if you must go, will you at least allow one of us to accompany you at all times?”
“At all times? But I live alone, and I like it that way. How about if someone just goes with me whenever I leave my apartment?”
“The Others can get to you anywhere. You need someone with you even at home. Pierre can be your escort for now.”
Oh, great, I thought. I’m the world’s quietest introvert, and I was going to share my life with someone whose mouth seldom stopped running? Well, at least I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up a conversation; Pierre could do that all by himself.
Gradually, the sailors’ cave returned to the tavern, which materialized out of the shadows. Soon, everything looked normal again, including my check for a beer and a grilled-cheese sandwich. I paid my tab and set out for my apartment, with Pierre at my side. “This seems like such a farce,” I said as we headed for the door.
Pierre leaned close and whispered into my ear – the first time I’d ever had a clue he could actually lower his voice. “Ssshhh. In the back of the tavern, when we recede, we’re relatively safe. But it’s best not to mention such things in the open.”
I whispered back, “Let me guess, we don’t know who might be listening.”
“You’re catching on.” Pierre finished that remark with a kiss – a quick peck on the cheek, but a kiss nonetheless. I was startled and let out a squeaky little giggle. “That’s it,” Pierre said. “Lovers in love, the perfect cover.” I was furious, but with some effort I kept my mouth shut, and I even managed to return Janice’s conspiratorial wink as we shut the door behind us. Arm in arm, we walked to my apartment.
My apartment was not large, even by student standards. It was a small studio, just one room, with a kitchenette in one corner and a bathroom in another. I had a couple of windows, but no view, unless a back alley and just enough sky to tell what the weather was counts as a view. Fortunately, I had equipped it with one luxury, thanks to a great deal I spotted at a yard sale. While many studio apartments have a single piece of furniture that is a sofa by day and converts to a bed at night, I actually had a separate sofa. It was threadbare, and a little bit smelly, but at least Pierre would have someplace other than the floor to sleep.
“It’s not much, I know,” I said as I let us in the door. “But it’s home sweet home for now.”
“Nice,” Pierre said, looking the place over and taking a peek out of the windows. “You don’t do much entertaining here, do you?”
“Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever had a dinner guest here, let alone an overnight.”
“Always his place, huh?”
“Whose place?”
“The guy’s, of course – or are you …”
“No, it’s not like that. It’s just –”
A sheepish look came over Pierre’s face, and he blushed. “You mean you’ve never …”
“That’s right, I’ve never.”
“Sheesh. Um, how old are you?”
“Under normal circumstances, I’d consider that a personal question, but since these aren’t normal circumstances … I’m twenty-two.”
“Well, at least that’s a relief. If I’m supposed to be sleeping with you, it wouldn’t do to get accused of statutory rape.”
“You’re supposed to what?”
“No, no, that’s just the cover story.” He plumped up a couple of the sofa cushions and then sat down. “I can watch you just fine from here.” Then his nose wrinkled. “Faugh, maybe not,” he added as he sniffed at the arm of the sofa. “Where did this thing come from, a cattery?”
“Sorry. But the bed’s mine. The sofa’s yours.”
“The sacrifices I make for the cause.”
The next morning I was awakened by a knocking on the door. When I peeked out the peephole, I saw my landlady. Mrs. Bullfinch was a nice old lady, and she had only ten apartments to tend, mostly occupied by students. She took it upon herself to be a mother hen to us all, and especially to me, since my parents had died in a car accident while I was still in high school and I had gone from foster care to this apartment when I entered college. “Sarah, are you all right? Somebody said they saw you take a man to your apartment last night, and I just couldn’t believe it. You never have men. So I had to see that you weren’t – Oh!”
I had opened the door, and Pierre had come up behind me, with pants but without shirt. I had to admit, he did have a good body. He was a short guy – I had a couple of inches on him – but he was all lean, rock-hard muscle; he’d been sailing skiffs for longer than I had been alive, and every single muscle from the waist up (and, I’m sure, also lower than that, although those weren’t visible) had been developed hauling on halyards, pulling sheets, and sometimes becoming part of the rigging, keeping control of sails that were exerting hundreds of pounds of pressure in high winds.
Mrs. Bullfinch’s mouth dropped open, and her eyes bulged. After a moment, she regained control. “Good heavens, I knew you’d have to discover men at some time, but I never imagined it would be the dirtiest dirty old man on the bay! Why, he’s twice your age!”
“Well, actually,” Pierre corrected her, smiling, “more than twice her age, but let’s not get into that.”
“Well, really!” Mrs. Bullfinch had to gather her thoughts again. “But, Sarah, you can’t be serious? You’re so … so … um, innocent, and he’s been … um, around. He tricked you into this!”
“No, I didn’t,” Pierre responded. “It’s just that we got to talking last night, and, uh … um, er …”
“And we discovered that we have a whole lot in common,” I completed.
“Yes, that’s right, way more in common than you could ever guess.”
“Well, now, maybe that’s so,” Mrs. Bullfinch allowed. “The way you both go careening all over the bay in those little boats, you might be twins. But, Sarah, watch yourself.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. B, I will.”
“She’s safe with me,” Pierre added, with so much sincerity in his voice that Mrs. Bullfinch’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Good heavens, you sound like you mean it!” she exclaimed.
After Mrs. Bullfinch left, Pierre turned toward me. “Great save,” he said, “that bit about having a lot in common.”
“Well, it is true, although not necessarily in the way Mrs. B would understand.” I looked out a window. “We’ve got a great day for sailing, and I’m still on break. Let’s hit the water.”
“Yes, let’s.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

testing the "word verification" thingy.

Thu Oct 27, 01:14:00 PM MDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home