The road sign said the end of the journey was just ahead. Was I ready to get there?
What can I say? The road sign said the end of the journey was just ahead. Heck, there have been road signs since last summer. Was I ready for it to end, for this relationship to reach its end?
I did everything I could on my part. Maintaining a relationship with Bob while living in different towns was beyond difficult, especially with his work schedule. I never saw him at all during the summers, and only a few times during the long winters. We talked on the phone occasionally, usually when he was coming my way and would plan to stop in for a bit.
The times when he was here were fleeting, but intense. Very intense. Most of the time, as he was preparing to leave again, he asked for money, and I, I am reluctant to admit, never quibbled but pulled out the check book and gave him whatever amount he requested.
The last time he was here, just a few days ago, he brought another man with him, probably to help with what he had decided to do. Sure enough, as they were leaving Bob said, “You shouldn’t have to call me again.”
There is was—the end of a friendship. Was I ready for it to end? Yes.
In fact, I’d been preparing for the end myself. I already had a 100 watt light bulb keeping the lift station floats from freezing so the pump would empty the septic tank. I thought that would end it. But when Bob, the Roto Rooter man, and Travis threaded a thaw cable down the septic line and plugged it in, we both sincerely hoped that would solve my winter septic line freezing problems.
Never in my life has a relationship ended with such happiness and hope for the future.
Gully, I mistakenly posted my comment to you under Pamela’s piece.
I certainly hope this will solve your ongoing winter problems! Great post and a perfect ending.
You’re incorrigible! (sp?) Rob the Roto Rooter Man, not a romance. It does read like romance novel. Maybe you should mention that the narrator is wearing a red velvet evening gown!
Gee, Ann. Your assignments always requested a twist at the end. (imagine a whole bunch of ellipses here.)
Oh, how you manipulate me! Thanks so much for the laugh!!!
You lead us down the garden path. I loved the ending great laugh.
A figure bent over a sprawling black table. We were alone in the bookshop, he and I. Tall and boney, he wore a silk, black rain cape and held a magnifying glass with long distorted fingers. I moved a little closer. A single bare light bulb hung from a wire over the table, and his jagged shadow splashed huge upon the concrete wall. An odd decay drifted all about, and I was posed to turn and run the other way when he commanded, “Stop. Come closer, and I shall magnify your future.”
I tiptoed toward him, and I don’t know why. The decay was gagging me. He held the magnifying glass over his head with both hands and chanted:
“Trapped between cause
and effect. Light and
Promise or shadow
I couldn’t look away. The magnifying glass shook within the grasp of his bony fingers. A ball of fire exploded from the glass and spewed upon the concrete wall my future. I saw a long colorless road which wound around gray mounds of dirt. The road sign said the end of the journey was just ahead. I wept, not ready for the end.
The figure in the silk, black rain cape lowered the magnifying glass and placed it on the table. “This is the portal between cause and effect. Change your path and encounter light. Find a path with meaning.”
I backed away and turned from the dark room, the dark path.
I love pieces about death. Such a tantalizing characters here. Sounds like your narrator knew just where to go!
Gully, you are just a bundle of talent; you must have been in the extra doses line in heaven when God assigned gifts and talents. Wit, Wisdom, Natural Beauty and a fully functional septic system. In my book, that makes you a 10!
Thanks, Peanut. That’s very kind of you, but I must have been in the bathroom galumphing when common sense and good judgment got passed out.
Pamela, I like the shadow splashing large upon the wall, and I LOVE the chant. Nice writing.
Pamela, Spooky but very inventive and mysterious. I love the way you write, even though it scares me a little. I am so impressionable. Good stuff kiddo.
Hi Gullible, I enjoyed your piece…Great twist!
Peanut – Thank you… Never mean to scare anyone…just playing and having fun.
I don’t know how I duplicated my post. I hope I don’t do that again!
The road sign said the end of the journey was just ahead. Was I ready to get there?
One more road trip, one more undulating strip of grey highway with white lines blinking as we cruised along. We drove the day down into night, eating fast food and gas station snacks. The music started to repeat. We were older now, but our lives had overlapped an era of constant driving, of knowing we had a car that would take us wherever we wanted to go. It was all possible, a given. I liked to remember that once more, this journey by car was an amazing piece of good fortune.
How incredible that we could climb into an automobile, toss bags in the trunk and head out to the horizon on four lanes or two, the big wide continent our beckoning and welcoming home. How quick we were to turn the key, step on the gas and head off to school, job hop, return home, start again, meet the in-laws, come for Thanksgiving, greet a new employer, move to the next new town, roll into a neighborhood to visit a friend a thousand miles away.
The tires hummed on the roads. The power lines kept us company. Billboards hawked motels, and hawks perched on high branches. The gas stations all ran together as we stopped for fuel and used the restrooms at the BP, Amoco, Shell, Kwik Trip, and the Ma and Pa truck stop. “Eat and Get Gas” the sign read. We ate BBQ in Texas, fritters in Tennessee, shrimp in New Orleans, burritos in Los Angeles, lobster roll in Maine. Pastures dotted with cows rolled by in Wisconsin. Mountains of maples turned red in Vermont. The prickly New Mexico desert was sand and rock–peach, beige, and sage green. Along the glimmering Mississippi River we drove, by the deep blue of Lake Superior, near towering Half Dome at Yosemite and over the gentle rise and fall of the South Dakota flatlands.
We drove on, free to zoom through our American dream, to reach the end of the journey, wondering if we were ready, one more time, to meet the next adventure.
Again, Dear Lady Linquist you have spoken directly to my core. It greives me to think that our “Mobile Freedom” might well be at the end of it’s run. This piece is so lyrical while being potent in it’s truth. You write beautifully, really beautifully. Thanks for the trip.
Ha! The truth comes out! You were in there galumphing with the Roto Rooter man. Admit it!
Are you ever again going to be able to hold a poker face when you discuss galumphing with your students?
The roadsign said the end of the journey was just ahead. Was I ready to get there, I honestly didn’t know, but it was too late to change my mind. I had just come from a closing at my attorney’s office and had taken possession of the keys to my future.
Dearest Father Urbine,
I regret to inform you that “Woebegone” and I will not be your pier-mates at Southeast Bay Marina this summer. The escalating price of dock rental at our “Sailor’s Paradise” has forced me to make a drastic decision. I have gone over to the dark side of motor boating. I purchased a dilapidated marina on the North Shore, “Smitty’s Boat Livery,” circa 1938. There is a reason that we call powerboats “Stink Pots,” they reek of fuel and motor oil. Regrettably, I have become accustomed to the pungent odor of gas, oil and live fish bait.
I traded my cul-de-sac townhouse in the taupe ghetto of suburbia for this rickety bait/mechanic shop, 2 gas pumps and 40 dock spaces, more than half of which are missing planks or are partially underwater.
There is a home, of sorts, up the hill from the marina buildings. It began life as an angler’s cabin with one sparsely furnished bedroom, one primitive bathroom, and an extremely tiny kitchen equipped with a huge sink for fish cleaning. I can only imagine how many “the big one that got away” stories must have been told around the scarred wooden table that has a place of prominence in the sitting/dining room. Although it is a minimal and poorly constructed structure, it has the comforting feel of a gathering place, where good friends enjoyed each other through the years.
My first week here, a man from the Turkey Creek Volunteer Fire Department came into the bait shop and asked, “Do you mind if we burn down the “cabin” at the top of the hill for practice?” After I told him that it was my new home, he apologized and left shaking his head in pity. When the volunteer firefighters want to incinerate your dwelling for practice, you are not living in a high rent district. I have paid high rent in an upscale, uptight neighborhood. Frankly, I prefer being able to sit on a tree stump and watch the sunrise over channel #1. As steam rises from the lake and my coffee, crickets and bullfrogs provide a rousing anthem to welcome each new day; an orchestration only God could conduct.
I wanted you to know that you and your beloved sailboat “Answered Prayer” will always have a free dock space with me at the new, and yet to be improved, Johnson Bay Marina. We are easy to find, simply sail into the bay and turn right… just before the swamp. I’ll keep a pot of coffee on and the euchre cards at the ready.
I purchased Johnson Bay Marina solely on the power of potential because it offered little else in its “As Is” condition. The store building was a mangy old nag with a sway back roof and a patchwork of tarpaper, pitted wood panels and rusty corrugated metal as siding. A behemoth of a sliding, (but not gliding), barn door was the only entrance into the dimly lit retail area. Four anemic fluorescent fixtures struggled to light the undulating grease stained concrete floor. The few single- paned windows were perma-coated with a grimy glaze.
When customers dared to look up at the unfinished interior roof their eyes would meet with a hand painted sign that hang in the very peak of the roof.
It read, “What the Hell are You Looking Up Here for Anyway?”
On the backside of the building was a lean-to that tended to lean… to and fro… on breezy days. Nevertheless, I saw possibilities and potential in this old grey mare and I was determined to clean her up and get her back in the race. Besides, I have always been a pushover for strays and rejects, and I had fallen in love with my decrepit darling.
This newly acquired business came with a meager supply of outdated inventory but a full cast of characters, all retirees and all avid anglers. Each morning my gaggle of crusty curmudgeons would gather on the shop’s front porch and swap fish stories as rapidly as speculators trade on Wall Street. Exaggeration and outright lies were the coins of this realm.
Mean Gene The Drink’in Machine was the pack leader. Gene was a true cowboy who had fathered a parade of illegitimate children throughout the country while he competed in the professional Bull Riding circuit in the 50’s and 60’s. He had many more broken bones than teeth and a thunderous laugh that would cause ripples on the lake.
This throng of storytellers also included “Tater” (he loved potatoes) who got his nickname from his older and taller brother “Bigger” and Mad Max, a retired train engineer who chewed cigars more than smoked them. The only woman in the group was “Dixie,” a rotund Southern Belle who was a retired grade school librarian. One could always tell when Dixie arrived on the porch, because the frail floorboards would groan in agony as she stomped her way to her assigned perch….Thadump…Thadump …Thadump.
I would come to love the sounds of Dixie’s stomps and Mean Gene’s boisterous laughs as I grew into my role of the Johnson Bay Marina Harbormaster.
Well the end of the journey I don’t care to think of it. My husband on the other hand talks about it all the time.
“We have to start cleaning out things the boys will destroy when they come here after we are gone.” He says.
I am only 64 1/2 and the end holds no meaning for me. I want to yell at him stop! It will come soon enough and get us but I’ll go kicking and yelling all the way. I have things to do and places to go before the end.
When I took my BWW course it opened a whole new world for me and gave me a feeling of self worth. I am a late bloomer but I got there.
I have many more stories to write and things to photograph before I am done. So I will not listen to Bob when he talks about what will happen to our treasures after. They are just things. Unless we take them with us who cares??? But the question is where will we take them.
I just want to live in the moment and enjoy every bit of it.
YOU GO GIRL. I think you are spot on with that outlook. You are an instpration….Thanks.
thanks peanut it has taken me a few years but i’m coming into my own.
I find this very encouraging, since I am exactly your age. It’s aging parents, dying parents, dying friends all around. While I think it’s good I finally realized I’m not immortal, I agree that focusing on a plan for dying is not a good way to spend the days. What does feel right is knowing that the things I’m writing will outlast me. I know that the writings of my own parents are some of my most valuable gifts from them. So we shall write, yes?
So shall we write. Hell Yes ! About all sorts of things jello and tunnels or just what every comes into our little heads. Mary and John at class dances or red platform shoes. We can write about our children, our parents, our friends, our brothers and sisters. We can also write about a bit of nothing, just what every comes into our free writeing minds. We can go galumphing and what ever.
The end of any story can change in a minute. The sad or happy ending can come; let it but we’ll live on in the written word. To haunt or make a person laugh. but the written word will always live.
My only hope is that all my body parts die at the same time.
Waldo::: we tend to recycel most everything now. So they all don’t die at the same time . So then your hands can still write and your brain can still think up sotries..What will we do when the time comes to cross the pearly gates . will things still be running down the road after you? We all hope to have many words left in us. So stories will take another 64 years to be written by me at least. I am sure the friends on these pages will write long and hard for many years.
Question: Why did some of us jump to the meaning of the sentence as death???? We could have been going to a cottage in the woods for a week or two. To sit at night hearing the ripple of the water over the rockbed of the stream. And to see the moon rise over the lake, smell the fire burning and have cup of tea by the fire.
The sign could have meant you are at a restful place. Maybe we all wish for a restful after life. We must feel we deserve it since we all dream of it in our golden years. Has life become that fast pasted that we look forward to slowing down? Have we stopped smelling the roses?
Good. Ever since I turned vegan it’s like I am thinking through my arteries, I have a new clarity and energy. Marion, I don’t think writers are thinking, curl up with death and eternal rest. I believe when writers address death they are challenging it, dancing around it, taunting it. They want to anatomize it and discover this hold it has on our psyche; this guillotine it holds over our heads that is the stuff that gods and religions are made of. Is it not the ultimate domain of human concern; finite existence? I seem to always look at the darker seedier side of life, bad childhood I guess. Although a cottage in the woods is very nice, but what would be more fun? Pretty Polly feeding ducks by the pond? Or a giant pike rising up and dragging little Johnny to the cold depths. Perhaps I should go back and finish lunch….
Question: Why did some of us jump to the meaning of the sentence as death???? Because I think writers will go for the jugular. They will choose the most provocative and intriguing route. Writers dig and claw and suck the marrow out of life. That reminds me, it’s time for lunch.
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by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle