edited: Thursday, August 23, 2007
By L J Hippler
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2007
Become a Fan
When cute shorts just aren’t enough.
The wall was almost finished. Buddy’s contractors had worked on it all summer. It was a high, brick wall on three sides of what people liked to call his estate. He looked down the length of the north section. It was perfect, straight and strong and a foot higher than his own six-foot frame. He hadn’t planned on it, but he decided to walk it down that morning, through the trees, across the garden and out to the beach where it ended.
All the way down the hill Buddy pictured how he’d put up the old fence. That summer was a hot one as well. It was hard work, digging post holes in the rocky dirt and pulling the wire mesh tight by himself, working nights and weekends, it took all summer. But he was young then; and it didn’t matter.
The end of the wall jutted out across the beach and into the bay, the way he wanted it. God, he thought, the schmoozing and promising I had to do to get that past the zoning board. It’s worth it, though. No unwanted visitors now. He had buried Bonzai there, in the rocks above the beach. It was covered completely with ivy now, but Buddy knew where his favorite dog’s grave was.
He put one work-boot on a hollow tree trunk and looked out at the morning sun glinting on the Chesapeake. He talked to the miniature shepherd as if he were there, on the rocks next to him, with his ears up, listening. “It was us against the world that summer, right after Brenda died. Michelle was only about nine years old.” Buddy put his hands into his pockets and watched a small sailboat bounce on the whitecaps as it turned toward Tillman Island. “Just you, me and Michelle in that old, drafty house and this big place. It’s a different world boy. I’m paying more for this wall than we paid for the whole place back then.” Buddy picked up a short stick and bounced it off of the massive buttress to his left. “And the biggest worry I have now is that they get the color of the bricks right.”
Chloe was just coming out onto the porch patio when he got back. She had on the peach colored shorts that he loved. He loved the way they accentuated her long, tan legs and the way they accentuated other things. “Hey baby,” he began, “you’re up early.”
“And where’d you go?” Chloe seemed to glide, rather than walk to the breakfast table where she sat and began to peel an orange.
“Just checking out the wall. They’re almost finished with it.”
She put one foot up on the chair as she peeled the orange. She did it just the way his daughter did; and Buddy wished she hadn’t. She is older than my daughter, he reasoned, but just barely. It’s awkward for Michelle. That’s why she doesn’t come around any more. She didn’t say that’s why. But I know her.
“Hey, I saw the neighbors, Bill and Mary, yesterday.” Buddy pulled out the other chair and sat across from Chloe. They’re back from Europe.” He couldn’t stop thinking about Michelle now and his grandson. He suddenly missed them both, a lot.
“Chlo, did you know there’s a bike path now where the Berlin wall used to be? I had no idea.”
She looked at him across the table and dropped an orange seed onto the bricks. “That’s good, right?”
“Well, it’s good. But the East and West Germans hated, really hated, each other for years. Now, it’s like nobody remembers any of that, like it never happened.”
“East and West Germans?”
“When was this again?”
“It went on for decades, the fifties, sixties, seventies - - the whole cold war.”
“I don’t want to go to Europe anyway,” Chloe said. “I want to go back to Hawaii.” She put on her frowny face and peeked at him from under her blond curls. “Can we?” She stretched out her leg and began to rub his calf with her bare foot.
“We will. We’ll do that. But, you see what I’m saying? About the importance of memories, about things, important things just going away?”
She moved her foot further up his leg. “Take me to Hawaii.”
Her pink cell phone jingled. She grabbed it from the table and turned away from him in a single motion. She stood, leaning forward with her feet apart, as if facing into a hurricane. The shorts looked spectacular then. Buddy didn’t care. “A lot of things happened then.” He went on as she moved further away from him, talking as much to himself as to her.
Buddy went on talking for lack of anything better to do, talking softly to the girl’s back as she huddled over the cell phone. “Things seem to just go away,” he said. “Important things that deserve remembering. And nobody cares . . . nobody.”
Web Site: Cathedral Street
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|Reviewed by Lorri Proctor
|This is definitely one of my favourite books, Larry. I came across it again when sorting out my bookshelves and mean to read it all over again. Can I come to Baltimore!|
|Reviewed by Charlie
|Intense characterization, attention to details--right down to the orange peel. I could just shake Chloe! What's a deep-thinker like him doing with her anyways?
Funny, how when you're young you rush so hard to change things, and then, in a moment of clarity, you find yourself treasuring the past-- no matter how awful. --Charlie
|Reviewed by Dawn Anderson
|Larry, this is wonderful. I can feel every word that you've written, as though I were living it myself. I agree with Jean. I'd love to see this longer. I find myself wanting to know more about Buddy, his relationship with Chloe, and also his daughter, Michelle. I'm curious to know what direction his life will take. Excellent writing.|
|Reviewed by Jerelyn Craden
Good gawd, this is strong. Your voice is your own and it got me. I was totally engaged. I could see it all, feel it all ... the love of nature, the earth, loved ones ... relationships, changed, out-lived ...the attraction of new blood, young blood and yet the emptiness and sadness that it is unable to transform. Again, your language is your own and quite wonderful.
|Reviewed by Jean Pike
|I really liked this story, Larry. As Reg said, you have done a brilliant job of developing Buddy's character. I can sympathize with his loneliness for the past; the dog, his wife, and the way things used to be in general. I think everyone feels this way at one time or another. I would love to see this expanded into a much longer story, as the character has already found his way into my heart. Very nicely done.|
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Interesting psychological developments going on here; characters are revealed. Nicely done.
"It’s awkward for Michelle. That’s why she doesn’t come around any more. She didn’t say that’s why. But I know her."
This is so true. I "speak" from experience.
Thank you for sharing this. Love and peace,
L J Hippler