So… I have had one of those “Chinese interesting” days.
Rowdy had me awake and moving by 0630. I worked my way through my morning ritual of cream of wheat, and got the house ready for Joanne and the girls. I also worked on another Blog post with Rowdy twitching at my feet.
Once everyone had their breakfast and showered, we took off to visit a new Dog Park here in Alpharetta. The place has a lot of acreage and a terrific stream that pulls through the property that the dogs clearly (and kids) enjoy. It looks like a good area to run as well.
Joanne, emma Jo and I then ran some errands that included tracking down some water shoes (so Emma Jo and I can hike through that creek later), other stuff for our pending trip to Disney World (staying at the Grand Floridian), and I had to pick up some new Lacrosse gear (this will offer up it’s own story in the next few days).
It was hot, so as we approached home, Emma Jo convinced me to take her to our neighborhood pool. I hate that pool. In fact, I don’t really like any public pool – but, mostly because they use chlorine, and I don’t care for the feel most pools offer the bottoms of my feet and toes. Plus, the pool is, in my opinion, small and unworthy of our neighborhood. Our own pool uses saline and is pebbled. But, about six weeks ago, a storm with LOTS of rain caused a chunk of our landscaping to slide into the pool. It’s under repair, and should be useful by the end of this weekend (about time so we can finally have our Shockers season-end pool party). Emma Jo and I went ahead because Joanne wanted to tidy up the house. Along the way we happened into Haley Anne and her BFF Emily biking their way home. They decided to join us at the pool and rushed home to get Joanne moving.
Emma Jo and I were having a terrific time in the water (even with the chlorine). She lets me throw her around now, and her big grins can keep me occupied for hours. But, then Joanne showed up and I could see she was tense. I gave her a smile, that was not returned. I did get a curt: “Come over here”. It turns out that one of the powder rooms downstairs (we have s many bathrooms in that obnoxious house that we have to actually call some of them powder rooms). She described the mess she had just dealt with (I have to admit, it did sound unpleasant). I had this uneasy feeling that it was my fault. That is simply a husband thing, I am sure.
So, I had, on that very spot (treading water, no less) a spur of the moment inspiration – a barbecue!
It was so simple. I would champion a great cause, and prepare a feast for my family. Surely this would please Joanne.
Haley Anne, Emily, and another neighborhood crony, Anna, were engaged in mayhem within the pool, and Emma Jo was flitting in-and-amongst them. So, she had lost interest in me, which in turn allowed me to slip from the pool (glistening and magnificent I might add) and stride manfully purposefully over to Joanne where she was conspiring conversing with several neighbor ladies. As I toweled myself dry I casually announced that I was off to Publix to pick up items with which I would prepare dinner. This elicited both exclamations of admiration from the ladies, and a smile of gratitude from Joanne. And, with the world spinning properly on its axis now, I was off.
And, unaware of the adventure that lay ahead.
I quick-stepped it from the club house and around the corner to the house. I made a quick change, jumped into my (unbadged) Cayman and zipped my way to Publix. The tour of that grocery store (are they still called that?) was, in of itself uneventful. I managed to pick up the essentials for the barbecue (Bratwurst, buns, corn, beans [why? no one actually ever eats them], coal – and, a bunch of other things that most trained shoppers know to avoid, but hapless and unsuspecting Dudley Do-Rights like me can’t resist (flowers, candy, razors, more flowers, a box of fried chicken [dark meat], fitness magazine, another set of screw drivers I will never use, and a pound of peeled shrimp).
I lugged my materieleste (don’t bother looking to the dictionary for that pearl, I made it up) cargo out to my ass-ripping sled, slammed the shopping cart into the rack (from a record 80 ft), navigated past Starbucks, spun onto Bethany road, and accelerated with a big self-indulgent grin splayed across my deeply flawed visage. I cleared the light (is it Bethany Bend? I just realized I never noted the name of that road) accelerating smoothly. NOTE: The Porsche’s growl is both intoxicating as well as satisfying. As I approached Hopewell I noticed a tall angular figure on the other side of the road striding in the direction from whence I had come, and apparently speaking earnestly on a cellular telephone. It looked like Nathan, a rasta-haired (and capped) black dude I see at Starbucks almost every morning (I certainly saw him that very morning), whom is apparently a school bus driver, and drives a 1973 Mustang Fastback. I had my mind made up in an instant and executed a U-turn at Bethany and Hopewell (barely reducing speed as there was no traffic in-sight). I pulled up alongside Nathan – and, immediately realized it wasn’t him after all – just as I let loose with:
“Nathan! Wassup, Brother!”
The dark fellow paused and considered me. His cellular telephone was no where in sight. He did, for the record, resemble Nathan. And, it occurred to me I really did not know the man (Nathan). Nonetheless, it entered my head that God had me there for a purpose (that is, as was to be quickly demonstrated, dangerous and stupid thinking). I steeled my resolve, thumped the window frame of my sled and offered him a ride. He looked up the road, nodded his head, and actually shrugged his shoulders. He then carefully crawled into the passenger side of the cockpit. He even tapped his boots on the road to clear them of debris. While he was doing this it struck me that automobiles like this are not designed for really tall people – and, then it got me to thinking about natural selection – and I, seriously, made a mental note to research size to weight ratios of pilots, race car drivers and Porsche owners. In any event, I checked all my mirrors; there was no traffic either way. I told him to buckle-up as I accelerated onto the road, kicking up some gravel. I asked him where he needed to be, and he quietly said he had a ride to catch up on Highway 9. Then, without, seemingly, taking another breath, he turned his head to me and inquired:
“Is that fried chicken I can smell?”
I thought quickly he might be hungry, and concluded that I would give him the box when I stopped the car. However, before I could say anything he had a large and serrated knife in his hand, and added – with this odd hollow rasp to his voice:
“What if I killed you for that chicken?”
I supposed everyone, after events, confrontations, disputes, arguments, what ever, come up with cool, witty or appropriate retorts. But, mine was both uninspired and unoriginal. It did not occur to me, only just then, that attempting to gut a stranger piloting a vehicle accelerating to 60MPH, was both risky and ill-advised. But, as everything snapped into clear focus, I felt I could hear a pin drop; time stood still; I could see everything; my arms felt as though they had turned into steel wire; and, rage was building up quickly, no surging, in the back of my neck.
I was, perhaps, a heart-beat away from lashing out and grabbing the blade, maybe his wrist, possibly just driving my fist into the side of his head; but, I heard myself say, and with an odd calm in my voice that I can’t recall that I felt:
“Holster the blade dude. Or, I will pin you to a tree with it”.
Of course, that made absolutely no sense.
I then realized he had the knife in his left hand, and I was sure he was right-handed (I don’t know why this is; maybe I had subconsciously noted he had opened the car door with his right hand). He looked at me evenly – almost sideways like, and said through (I swear) clenched teeth:
“I reckon you just might.”
I was, oddly, thinking “chicken?”. We had approached the turn into the parking lot for the strip mall where choices need to be made around Taco Mac, Starbucks, Publix, and a host of other, suddenly unimportant, destinations. I pulled to a stop. The knife disappeared into a back-pack at his feet (I had not seen that before). It actually entered my head to offer him the chicken. I was not angry. I did feel like I had some element of control. But, without a word, he pushed the door open and pulled himself out. I watched him for a moment as he paced his way to the corner of Hwy 9 and Bethany Road. I circled around the bank (it has one of those odd regional sounding names), pulled back onto Bethany Road and drove, otherwise uneventfully, home.
We had our barbecue on the back deck. Even though we had an outdoor kitchen built off the pool last year, I thought it might be fun and easier to sit around the low fire pit we have off the kitchen. The girls insisted on the chicken first. Only I bothered to even try those stupid beans.
All things considered, I have the Eagles song Peaceful Easy Feeling, on my mind. This rendition from 1973. Life was less complicated then. For me any way.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork