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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Musings on Mad Dogs, Englishmen, Love and Life -- Chapter One: Tuesday, July 26th, 2007, Rockridge, Oakland, California


A Work of Historical Fiction in Process

Please let Brenda know what you think.

Caveat Emptor --- The names in this tale of the past and the present have been changed to shield the guilty and titillate innocent bystanders.

Gently wakening as the birds chirped in the cool morning air over the Oakland hills, I glanced at the beautiful peonies on my nightstand and the photo of a smiling handsome sixty-year old man, wondering how he was, what he was doing, and praying that his English God was watching over him, perhaps bringing him back to me, sooner rather than later. We had not talked or communicated since my birthday on April 28th, an email, a birthday wish. My eyes moved across my large sunny bedroom to another photo, a smiling soldier in combat jungle fatigues holding an M-14, another time, another life, so far away, so long ago, almost forgotten, but never forgotten. I pushed aside the memories and said another prayer summoning my God and his most noble angels to continue watching over him, and giving me the strength to continue on in my own way.

I quickly showered and donned my favorite jeans, assessing my reasonably fit middle-aged five-foot ten body, praising myself for continuing my regimen of daily workouts and watching my diet. I grabbed my newspaper and sunglasses and hopped into my new silver Mercedes 350E and headed off to enjoy my day, wondering if my Englishman would magically reappear.

It was a gentle time. Tea and poached eggs with hot sauce at Cole Coffee on College Avenue. The sun on my face. Two morning crossword puzzles completed, chatting with friends, shopping at La Farine Bakery, admiring the voluptuous bright red strawberries at Yasai Market, longing to have a chocolate from Lulu Rae.

The object of my affections did not make an appearance on College Avenue that fine fair morning. He had essentially been missing in action since early in March when we agreed to take a hiatus from one another while he sorted himself out – all those visits to his shrink, her shrink, and their shrink – reading all those psychological Alan Watts’ treatises on therapy, sex, and relationships. From my perspective any relationship that required three therapists was already sinking like the Titanic -- call me when the ship goes down. For a while it was better to love him from afar, let him sort himself out, and offer up a daily prayer of hope that he would soon come to his senses.

At precisely 10 o’clock while driving south through lower Rockridge with its quaint craftsman houses and well-tended gardens near the home of my son and his family, I spotted a tired looking young woman mousy hair askew, pushing a clunky lime green baby stroller down the sidewalk at a pristine house surrounded by an English wrought-iron fence. His house. I gasped nearly colliding with several parked cars to my right, quickly making a u-turn and driving back up the street to get a second look. Yes, his house! Her. His wife! With a baby! Whose baby? They weren’t pregnant. He had said he loved me. His marriage was on shaky ground. Where had this baby come from? What hasn’t he told me? What is he thinking?

My mind raced as I quickly punched in the numbers to his cell phone. A message in a mechanical voice answered. I hesitated then left a message, “This is Morgan. It’s important that we speak. Please call me when you get this.” I then dialed his university office, another voicemail only in his clear, deep resonant English accent. My voice quivered as I left the same message. I went home and waited . . . and wondered.

His return call came all too quickly, that same day, but not so quickly that I hadn’t destroyed my manicure by seriously biting my nails, a habit most unbecoming for a sixty-year old woman, who looks to be fifty. Before I could hang up the phone he was bounding up my front stairs into my home, barely giving me time to run a brush through my blonde hair.

Looking deeply concerned, he queried: “What’s wrong? You seem very upset. Are you all right?”

Shaking in my sandals I grasped for my southern manners and politely offered him a glass of lemonade. We retreated to my back patio, lined with peace roses and blooming blue lilies of the Nile, a gentle breeze kissing the leaves of a large oak tree. He nervously arranged himself in an Adirondack chair, immediately knocking over his cool drink. He grabbed at the ice cubes as I returned to the kitchen, calling out with an uneasy laugh “You didn’t have to do that. It wasn’t laced with Viagra.”

Returning with another glass and placing it firmly in his hand, I looked directly into his eyes and inquired, “So is there anything new” pausing momentarily, “in your household, in your life?”

He stared back at me as my aging faithful companion, a golden retriever named Freya, sat staring at him with her huge brown eyes. He leaned over and gave her a gentle pat on the head. She stared back with knowing eyes.

“Everything’s very hectic. At home and work. Very busy. Very hectic. Lot’s going on.” he emphasized. “I canceled all my afternoon appointments.” With worry in his voice he continued, “What’s happened? Why are you so very upset?”

Again I queried, “Why don’t you tell me! Anything new in your life? Your household?” Pausing, waiting, then emphasizing, “Anyone new?”

His large blues eyes nervously darted about as he shifted back and forth in his chair – crossing and uncrossing his long legs, clutching his large hands together. Ever elusive – ever evasive – ever fearful – ever withholding. Freya put her head on my lap and looked at Trevor with large sad eyes. I sat quietly, staring with wide eyes, and waited.

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