Meeting up with Angel always seemed like Breaking-and-Entering. Although, Angel always left the back door leading to the kitchen unlocked, as they had discussed. Hurrying through the small courtyard and hearing the inevitable neighbor’s barking dog gave it all the air of criminality, at least in Marcus’ mind. The small, private courtyard itself was a rare luxury for a modest East-Bay town-house in this seemingly perpetually-overheated real estate market. Despite the unending droughts of California, the grass was a luxurious green and carpeted the modest yard, while drinking in the shadows under the protection of the tree’s extended, leafy branches. The tree had an almost maternal reach.
There was an arbor with a wandering grape vine, which struck Marcus as being just so reminiscent of Napa. The dappled sunlight along the stone path leading to the kitchen door, cast shadows from the tree’s generous branches, and a neglected bird bath, dry and forgotten in the corner, gave the place the air of bucolic neglect, benign and quiet all but for that barking dog. It was always the same.
Blocked-off on three sides by wooden fences, haphazard and crooked, as they were, the narrow passage between the side of Angel’s house and the neighbors’ was the only way to gain entry into the back from the sidewalk out front. He would begin discreetly from the street.
When he finally found himself in the back yard of the house, Marcus was always careful to step exclusively on the somewhat randomly placed flagstones which led to the back-door, making their gentle arc in the back, along the grass. And its oddly, battle-ship-gray painted stairs -three to be exact, began just as the random stepping stones ended. There would always seem to be hidden prying eyes. One could never be too careful. And, he always felt watched.
Marcus never grew accustomed to the secrecy. And these encounters were always timed to the minute, with Angel’s wife leaving for work promptly and quite predictably. Sitting in his car parked several blocks away, while waiting for someone to leave, was something Marcus never grew accustomed to.
As it turned out, Angel was not a man too troubled by the truth, or being truthful, which seemed to be the same thing. Instead, he was ever mindful of potential possibilities and ready propositions. And, one would have to be like that in the suburbs of Walnut Creek. This was the non-place of suburbia. It was all bland and blankness, simply drenched in sunlight.
It’s good to know what you want and not suffer misplaced sentimentality. Even if you are not a free man, break free. Freedom is for those who take it. And breath. One must adapt.
The last sounds of Angel’s shower could be heard even as Marcus made his way from the narrow side-yard into the back courtyard and up the three wooden steps. With care, and studied slowness, he opened the door, which of course, gave way, after a slight push with the shoulder, stuck as it always was, and creaking its admonition. It always struck Marcus as odd that such a tidy townhouse would have such a shabby door.
Marcus made it through to the kitchen, and then down the narrow hall towards the bedroom, all the while carefully ignoring the various family photos; weddings, camping trips, and birthdays, -framed, and sometimes hung on the walls, all set out with pride. He would find Angel, there on the bed, with the bedroom door swung wide open. Angel’s face was pressed down into a pillow, silk, like a crushed flower, and had his hands underneath the pillow. And this is how Marcus would see him at first, this time and most of the times.
Apparently, all was done with in the shower. How rapidly we learn to do things. And now with blankets cast to the floor, with the last of a few water droplets from the shower rolling off his nude body, and the dewy sheen of cleanliness, Angel waited with wordless anticipation while facing the headboard, an angelic expression on his face. He had always offered himself quite frankly, with that pose he had become accustomed to -it finally occurred to Marcus, at that moment before the threshold. This was his moment to step out of the hall and into the bedroom. This would be, although Marcus did not know it at the time, for the last time. Fate would tell a different story than what would have been expected. Our lives are re-written with every passing moment.
Perhaps there would be a glance backward from Angel, of recognition and expectation, as Marcus entered the room. Or, as the bed finally yielded to the weight of Marcus’ body, the formality of a familiar verbal exchange would have been expected, ordinarily. But, it was not necessary to exchange words -a worn currency, these words. They lie, like so many rocks on the beach. Words become but an encumbrance. This, there’s, had become something beyond language, without words, those scoundrels.
The moments, such as these, do not return to be enjoyed a second time. Drink all the pleasure you can once it is offered. The passage of time falls like the sand through one’s fingers. We cannot grasp it at the moment. Steal the moments while they are at hand. And the water droplets, the final ones, were wiped clean from his body.
Copyright Protected Work, All Rights Reserved. By- James Legare 3-20-17
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