Monday, July 13, 2009

For One Night Of Love, Part III

SHORT STORY MONDAY

Because I've been writing about my art show this past week, I almost forgot that today was Short Story Monday. Our hero here in the story just happens to be something of an artist himself. If you are following, enjoy. If you want more background, the story began two Mondays ago.


For One Night Of Love
Part 2

The next day he was astonished to learn that Frank Martin and his wife were members at the Northview Country Club where he worked, and that Mr. Martin had a daughter who just returned home from a private school in New England. Two bus boys were talking about it. Later, one of the parking lot attendants remarked on it while picking up a bite to eat in the kitchen saying that her name was Alyssa. Jeremy did not mention to them that he lived next door to the Martins. In fact, what these others found exciting -- for they insisted she was a very attractive girl-- he, found almost unsettling. Her presence endangered his routines.

For the next few weeks Jeremy began to pay more attention to the house again. He noticed how much the lawn had filled in since first being seeded. The shrubbery, too, had filled out noticeably. And while there were still no flowers, the atmosphere was considerably altered by this new presence, unseen as she was. And at night, before getting ready for bed, he would sit in his living room with the lights out, watching to see whatever sight the Martin house would yield.

Yet in many respects nothing had changed; the house remained as shut up and solemn as before. Sometimes there would be movement behind the curtains in the upstairs corner room which had, until this time, been perpetually in darkness. He guessed it to be Alyssa's room, and he wondered how long she would remain with her family. A week? A month? For the summer? Not that anything would come of it. Jeremy knew where things stood on that score. He was committed to his aloneness.

If he were totally honest with himself, however, having a girl next door excited him. True, he preferred the safety of the familiar and was afraid of these unknown territories, but seeing her stirred his emotions, and while it frightened him, it also exhilarated him and though he would not admit it to himself, each time her saw her it was his deepest wish to see her again. The first few weeks he saw her only from a distance, either when leaving for work or when she was leaving to go somewhere in the Martin's white Buick. But he never spoke with her.

One day, while he was returning from the back of his property, a little girl from the development across the street careened off the road on her bicycle and took a spill in the ditch, throwing her face into the handlebars so that her lip was badly cut. She was no more than eight and it terrified her so that she was screaming, feeling she was in the middle of nowhere, the taste of blood in her mouth and blood on her hands when she put them to her face. Jeremy rushed out to the road and picked her up to carry her back to his house. Alyssa, having heard the girl's screams, also ran to the road, arriving after Jeremy had begun carrying the girl up the driveway. After walking the girl's bike across the asphalt, Alyssa went up to the house and knocked on the side door. Through the screen she could see Jeremy, seated in the kitchen, holding the girl on his lap and applying a wet rag which had been wrapped around an ice cube. "Come in," he said.

"I'll keep an eye out," she said. She turned to face the road.

The girl's mother arrived soon after and Jeremy helped load the bicycle into the back of the station wagon. "Thank you. Thank you very much," the woman said several times and then she was gone.

Jeremy and Alyssa were standing together about ten feet from the garage. Jeremy studied her cautiously. She was much taller than he originally thought. Her shoulder length hair had been pulled back and pinned in place with a yellow crescent-shaped comb revealing the smooth curves of her neckline. Her mouth was drawn tight but not in a tense way, and when she spoke her teeth were white and perfect so that he was embarrassed by his own teeth, which were a little crooked. She had light blue-grey eyes, like pools of mist and she averted them whenever he looked her full in the face."Can I fix you something to drink?" Jeremy said. As an afterthought he added, "The house is kind of a mess but you can come in if you like."

Alyssa looked back toward her own house, then followed Jeremy into the kitchen.

"I'll be right back," he said while walking backwards out of the room. "Help yourself to the fridge. There's glasses in the cupboard. I have to change my shirt." The shirt had been stained with blood.

She seated herself in one of the wooden chairs which was set around an old, scratched up wooden table. A pile of bills, catalogs and assorted envelopes with special offers for credit cards, magazines, and the like lay on the corner of the table next to an orange, spiral-bound sketchbook. On the cover of the sketchbook a date had been written with a black felt-tip pen in the upper right hand corner. Without thinking she picked up the sketchbook, opened it to the first page and looked at the picture there, a detailed drawing of a hand. It was a man's hand, but it struck her as being a gentle hand, and it surprised her that the emotion of gentleness should be associated with a picture of a man's hand, or that emotions should be evoked in a simple drawing of a hand at all.

CONTINUED

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