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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 6

A quiet interlude.
Again, I’ve been tweaking some (I know, naughty, naughty, shirking NaNo), so there may be inconsistencies.
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 6
The next morning, because I had gone to bed so early the night before, I awoke early. My muscles were still aching from the previous day’s exertion, but not as acutely as the night before. Still, I felt uneasy and not refreshed. I had vague memories of having some frightening dream, but other than a feeling of suffocation, I couldn’t remember anything about the dream. Pierre was still asleep on the sofa, although he, too, seemed troubled by something. His face was creased in a frown, and he shifted uneasily in his sleep; a thin sheen of sweat showed on his forehead.
I got up and went into the kitchenette to make coffee. I set the kettle on to boil while I got out the coffee carafe and set the brewing cone on top of it, placed a filter in the cone, and measured coffee into the filter. When the water began to boil, I poured it onto the grounds in the cone. As the water poured through, the grounds released the rich coffee aroma that is every bit as important as the flavor.
Roused by the coffee smell, Pierre came into the kitchenette, and I handed him a mug of coffee. “I don’t have cream, but I have evaporated milk,” I said, pouring a dollop into my mug and offering him the can, which he took. “Sugar’s on the table.”
“Thanks,” Pierre said, seating himself.
I took a look out of the window. The sky was heavy overcast, and a steady rain was coming down; a front had moved in overnight. “Not so great for sailing today,” I said. “No hurry to get out there.” I went back into the kitchenette to get breakfast fixings: bowls, spoons, granola, shredded wheat, corn flakes, plain yogurt, and milk. I helped myself to granola with yogurt; Pierre took shredded wheat with milk.
“You ever consider using skim milk?” Pierre asked. “I mean, maybe you don’t have to watch what you eat, but I’m getting to where I can’t indulge myself and stay in shape.”
“I can’t afford much, so the one luxury I allow myself is good food. But I can get some skim milk and diet soda and stuff today.”
“Thanks,” Pierre said, taking a bite of his cereal. “By the way, did you notice you won every single race we ran yesterday?”
“I really wasn’t keeping score. I just sail for the fun of it.”
“Well, fun or not, you were just really hot. Anybody watching yesterday wouldn’t believe you’re the newcomer to the sport and I’m the veteran. You just never made a wrong decision at any time.”
“I can’t believe that. Surely I was just lucky.”
“Luck only gets you so far. You have the instinct for the game; it’s in your blood. That’s part of what we were talking about the other night in the tavern.”
“And you’re my guardian angel now, because of it.”
“Enough of that,” Pierre said. “How’d you end up all alone in the world, anyway?”
“Long story short: Only child, parents killed in a car accident, no relatives to go to. Not something I like to think about.”
“Well, at least you have Mrs. Bullfinch. And now you have me, too.”
“And that’s a good thing?”
“I get a feeling Mrs. B has never set foot in a karate studio, let alone earned a third-degree black belt.”
“So sailing and seducing women aren’t your only hobbies.”
“I have to do something when the weather isn’t good for sailing. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I have a really hard time sitting still. If I’m not busy, I feel like I’m hanging in mid-air over a very stinky manure pile. By the way, have you ever considered getting that sofa shampooed?”
“We can work on that. Meanwhile, if you have so much energy, mind helping with the dishes?”
Pierre wasn’t exactly used to doing dishes, I could tell. So I ran the hot water into the sink, adding detergent, and I washed while he stood next to me with a dish towel and dried the dishes. Suddenly, he placed a hand on my shoulder. “You’re all stiff from yesterday. I should have known. Let me do something about that.” He led me to the bed. “Take your shirt off and lay down on your front. Don’t worry,” he said turning his head away, “I won’t look until you say I can.”
I did as he asked, and then said, “Ready.”
Pierre placed his hands on my shoulders and then ran them down my back, spreading out his fingers to cover the whole surface in one sweep. I could feel the warmth and strength through his calloused skin, and almost instantly all of the aches began to ease up. “Oh, man, are you stiff. I should have realized last night,” Pierre said. He continued working on my back, varying the effort, sometimes making gentle, soft, warm strokes, and sometimes hard movements like a bulldozer cracking through a particularly stiff achy muscle. As he worked, I could feel a halo of warmth surrounding his hands, and I could feel all of the knots and tension in my back going away.
“Mmmm,” I heard myself saying. “Mmmmmagic.”
“No,” Pierre said, “not magic. Or maybe a little bit, but not much. It’s my training as an athletic trainer. Magic can’t usually heal, only make someone feel better without actually being better. It will work with inanimate objects, but on living flesh, only the most powerful magic will have any effect at all other than temporary cosmetic effects or minor pain relief.”
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “Feels good.”
When Pierre finished with the massage an hour later, I felt amazingly renewed and refreshed. Pierre settled himself on the edge of the bed beside me, leaving one hand resting at the middle of my back, just below my neck. I could feel the warmth radiating from it, spreading downward through my middle. Suddenly, I had a flash of vision of myself from outside, looking at my back and at that hand resting on it. But something was different, and I couldn’t place the difference. Then I realized that, while that was my back and that was Pierre’s hand, the surroundings were different: The room was luxurious, the bed was king size, the sheets were far higher quality, and I was between them, not on top of them.
Pierre had tensed up. “Of all the strangest things …”
“What? I just got a feeling I was reading your mind.”
“No, this wasn’t mind reading. I just had a premonition.” He blinked a couple of times and shook his head. “I’ve never had one before – really, only the stronger wizards get them. Well, at least it wasn’t a bad one – just that I had you at my place.”
“Was that a premonition, or just wishful thinking?”
I got dressed again, and we went back to the kitchenette to finish up the dishes.


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