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Jim Howell

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   Recent stories by Jim Howell
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Corpus Christi Dilemma
By Jim Howell
Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Even some easy choices are not as easy as they seem.




Kevin knew if he could stop the surf, he could make time stand still. Yes, that was the answer to keeping Father Time from marching forward; then he could live in this moment, this point in his life forever. But wouldnít stopping the waves from coming ashore take away all the reasons he wanted to make time stand still in the first place? It was indeed a paradox.



Kevin turned on his balcony and his back was now to the gulf. Through the sliding door he could see the woman sleeping on his couch. The pale yellow beach cover-up had become twisted and partially exposed a most lovely leg. Jean was her name. He had found that out early on, not too long ago, when they met in town at one of the few supermarkets found near the beaches of Corpus Christi.

Kevinís mind wandered back to that day, the one that had seemingly changed his entire life.

"Do you need a cart?" It was a simple question, one of sincerity he had asked the attractive female wearing the cut off blue jeans and pastel pink blouse that almost reached her waist as she entered the vestibule of the grocery store. As he carefully pushed the basket with the wobbly wheel to finalize his offer, she gently shook the dark, curly hair cascading down her neck and politely told him, "No, thank you." Her subtle quick smile was most stunning and natural, yet almost illuminating. It made him feel good for obvious reasons.

Well, at least she had been polite, and that was always a bonus in these days of frequent bad manners and impolite strangers. As Kevin maneuvered the cart collecting the few necessities needed, he observed her twice again in the store. With each encounter she had gathered more and more items. If she had noticed him she didnít let on, as it appeared she was engrossed in the shopping experience. Her arms were overloaded as Kevin rounded a soft drink display and watched as a box of deodorant fell from the top tier of her awkwardly balanced collection of groceries and sundries.

"Let me," Kevin said as he quickly picked up the box. He hesitated a moment, unsure of where to set it. He brushed the four items in his cart to the back and remarked to her, "Put them in here," Kevin said, referring to the groceries she had been struggling with.

As she gingerly removed the items from her arms and placed them in the safety of the basket she told him, "Thanks. I guess I shouldíve taken it when you offered. I found some other things I needed, though." She stopped abruptly and put out her hand. "Iím Jean. Thanks for your help." There was that smile again.

He shook her hand and told her his name. "You ready to check out?" Kevin asked.

"Sure, Iíve got all the stuff I need." She immediately thought, "Are you sure Iím not holding you up though? Do you have some more shopping to do?"

Kevin shook his head and the two of them leisurely walked toward the cashier chatting about things that any two strangers who had just met would talk about. They both enjoyed each otherís company as they quickly learned a few facts about each other in their short time together at the check-out line.

It was mere happenstance that both of them lived in Corpus Christi and had never met. They found out each frequented a lot of the same places, including this grocery store, but had failed to see each other. Kevin was a native of Corpus and Jean had moved to the coast from Tomball three years ago, the result of an unplanned career change. They exchanged phone numbers and after a few dates, decided to spend Saturday at the beach, which just happened to be a stoneís throw from Kevinís condominium.

Saturday morning was warm and the coastal humidity was up just a bit as the couple walked along the dark, sandy beach which was not yet crowded. They were finding out more about each other as they kicked at the gentle, unending waves that kept coming ashore. Later they laid out in the sun, went swimming in the surf where Kevin had tried to teach Jean how to ride a surfboard. Both were laughing boisterously as Jean would fall off the slippery, demanding board each time she tried to stand up.

In the short few days they had known each other, both sensed something special about the other. These were independent emotions that neither let on about. Kevin had only Jeanís brief history and her looks to go on, but already he had unexpected strong feelings for her. But Jean was gorgeous inside and out, Kevin knew that much.

And Jean had felt something about Kevin she had never felt about any other man she had datedÖ and there had been several. Still, what was it about him that she found so intriguing and yet still couldnít tell him about it? He was a normal looking man with no real striking features, but she felt totally safe and at ease around him. In the span of time they had known each other, that spoke volumes.

Kevin returned the rented board and as they began to stroll the quarter mile or so back to his condo he casually asked her, "What do you want to do next, Jean?" He got no response and looked over at her. She had stopped and was picking at a small sea shell in the sand with her toes, swirling it around as the waves would wash up and disturb whatever design she had made. It seemed Jean was either deep in thought or at least preoccupied. Kevin turned to her and gently picked up her hand. "What are you doing?"he asked.

"Thinking." She didnít look up.

"About what?"

She lifted her head and gazed into his soft brown eyes with her own, darker, almost ebony eyes. She paused for only a second, then asked, "What do you think of me Kevin? I mean, how do you feel about me?" Jean had a reason for asking, of course. She knew that path she was taking.

He didnít answer at all. Kevin simply put his arms around her, leaned down and kissed her mouth. Jean didnít protest, and it was a long kiss, one that she returned with emotion, sincerity and passion.

"I donít know what it is, except Iíve never met anyone like you," he told her after the kiss that had been everything sheíd hoped it would be. "We havenít known each other that long, yet I feel soooo comfortable with you. Itís like nothing Iíve ever experienced, but I canít put my finger on it."

Jean spoke the words that Kevin just knew she would say in some fashion or another. "I think I know what youíre talking about. Obviously I donít know if itís exactly like what your feeling, but I feel a real easiness around you, a genuine sense of peace." She lightly traced the outline of his mouth with her finger and then gently kissed him again.

The gulfís small waves splashed across their bare feet as they neared Kevinís condo. "Weíre here," he remarked. As they made their way toward the stairs, Jean told Kevin, "I need to take a shower and wash off this salt water."

"No problem," he assured her.

After a short but refreshing shower, Jean laid down on the couch and quickly fell asleep. Kevin took his drink and walked out onto the balcony to think about what all had happened today. Jean was so genuine, so funny and so easy to be around. He stared out into far reaches of the Gulf of Mexico as if the answer was out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered. He wondered where this would all lead, how it would play out. Oh how he wanted this day to never end.

And thatís how Kevin got to the point of wanting the surf to stop washing ashore, to make time stand still. Yet it was while he and Jean were standing in that same shallow water she had opened up her soul to him, and he had told her what he had never been able to tell any other woman. And it was only because no other woman had made him feel like Jean had made him feel. It was Jean who, by chance and in only a few days, had brought love into his life. And he wanted to make time stand still and just watch her sleep Ė and keep the memories of today fresh and alive. But time moves forward for all of us, making us realize the only thing constant is change; and that is the paradox, isnít it?
 


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Books by
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