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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, August 02, 2010

"Still Waters" Chapter 12

This chapter was posted Monday morning from a campground with limited wifi and revised after proof-reading Tuesday afternoon. =)

I still don’t see the bus,” Said Anna.

James turned her shoulders to aim her eyes.

“See that clump of pines? Keep looking toward that as you walk. You’ll see it. We’re cutting straight to the bus.”

“Lead the way, Tonto,” said Clair, pointing toward the pines. “You’re draggin’ your feet.”

“I’m just looking for poison ivy.”

“That’s all we need,” said Clair.

“I thought you said there’d be a path,” whined Kenzie. “My tube keeps hooking on branches.”

“Here let me carry your tube. You carry my rocks. Just stay close behind me.”

The family ducked and wove between the trees and undergrowth until they could see a grassy patch between them and the stand of pines. Beyond the cluster of evergreens was about a hundred feet of brush and sparse trees, then the gravel cul-de-sac where the bus sat. The driver was now loading tubes in the trailer he pulled.

“There’s easy walkin’ ahead, Ladies,” James said over his shoulder, “We’re almost there and the bus hasn’t left.”

He turned his head and was about to step into the small clearing, when a hand-like twig on a slender branch gently swiped across his face. The little finger of the twig hooked his glasses, gently plucked them from his face, and flung them to his right.

“Stop. Freeze, Everybody,” James said calmly. I just lost my glasses. They’re over there somewhere. I heard them land.”

“I see them,” said Kenzie. “This is the second time I’ve found your glasses today.” She kneeled down to pick them up. “You need to get one of those necklace thingies for glasses like our school librarian has.”

“Yeah, that would look great on a man,” James said sarcastically.

“Are you saying ‘Only women can wear them’?” said Anna indignantly.

“No. I’m saying…”

“Let’s just keep walking and save the fashion talk for later,” Clair said, plodding ahead.

“Uh, oh, Dad,” Kenzie said, still on her knees.

“Uh, oh, what?” said James.

“One of the lenses is missing,” she said, handing him the glasses.

He marked the spot of ground where Kenzie had been kneeling in his mind, dropped the tubes, and put on the glasses. It was the right lens that was missing. This was unfortunate, indeed, because for his entire life, James could only wink with his left eye. Try as he might to wink with his right eye, his brow, his cheeks, his lips, they all joined in the palsied contortions, but his right eye would never close alone. Had it been the left lens that was missing, he could have merely held a wink to use the remaining lens, but with the right lens gone, he had to hold his right index finger against his right eyelid to keep it closed as he began scouring the ground.

“Wait up, Mom,” shouted Anna, “Dad lost a lens to his glasses.”

“No. Don’t wait for me,” James insisted, “You guys go tell the bus I’m coming. Anna, take my tube. Kenzie, take yours. There’s less trees on the other side of these pines. Tell the driver I’ll be right there.”

The girls went ahead, and James kept looking in the undergrowth, patting the ground with his left hand (since his right was on “eyelid duty”). He worked in imaginary quadrants that he marked off in his mind. Nothing. “How could the lens not be where the glasses were?” he said aloud, and then in the distance, the bus began beeping its horn.

James scanned the ground again, and then, having no other options, he left his mesh bag of rocks to mark the place, and began jogging toward the bus. The driver was rolling slowly forward as if to hint that he ran a rigid schedule, but as James reached the double doors, the driver opened them and stepped on the brake.

There were about twenty people on the bus, most of them young adults who had bailed out on the party at Fools Hill. Clair and Kenzie sat on the front seat and Anna scooted sideways on the second.

“I saved you a seat, Dad.” Anna said, patting the hard vinyl.

But her father did not turn to thank her, his eyes, one seeing and the other a blur, were fixed on the young driver.

“Could you wait for another five minutes?” he asked. “I lost the lens of my glasses back there, and really need to find it.”

He poked his finger through the vacant frame to demonstrate his plight. The driver looked in the large rearview mirrors on both sides of his bus and shook his head.

“Sir, do you see all those people comin’ up from the river? This place is about to get crazy.”

“Just leave it, James,” pleaded Clair.

“If I wait another minute,” the driver said, “I’ll have to load another twenty tubes and this bus is going to get packed like sardines. All the busses from here on out are three to a seat and then some. I gotta go. On or off, sir?”

James looked at Clair, “I’ll catch the next bus. Just wait by the car.”

“Dad?” Kenzie whined the word as if it were a three syllables.

“It’ll be fine,” he said, stepping off the bus.

“Step back, Mister,” the driver said, stepping on the gas before the door was closed. Late arriving tubers began slapped on the back of the bus as it rolled away. They cursed with single digits shaking at the bus and flung their tubes against the caged-in trailer as it passed. More and more tubers came staggering up the bank from the river. James stepped into the bathroom on his way back to his search. Through the screened eves of the small building, he heard cheering outside. A moment later, he looked at the rusty sink and at the slimy conditions of the facility and decided he was much cleaner than anything he could touch in that place, so he wiped his hands on his pants and walked back out into the sunshine and saw what all the cheering was about.

The new arrivals had piled their tubes in stacks, put two picnic tables on top of each other like bunk beds, and were diving from the top table onto the stacks of tubes only to bounce off and land on the hard gravel road, stones sticking to their bare backs. It had to hurt, but James surmised they were feeling no pain. Everyone cheered as the leaps became more daring. One boy did a front flip but rather than landing flat on the tubes he disappeared inside them, toppling the tower and bursting out fist held high in defiance to the bleeding gouge in his back from one of the tube’s inflation stems. More and more tubers occupied the park. Two more tables were bunked up, and another pile of tubes was made. The few beers left in the many coolers strewn about were now being given as trophies for the dives that ended in most the painful landings onto the road.

Chants and cursing filled the air. Dr. Sinclair was very happy his wife and girls had gone on ahead, and yet, with his finger still holding his eye shut, he watched the utter foolishness from a distance for several minutes before beginning to walk back toward the blind of pines.
To be continued and concluded within a couple chapters. Caution: the remaining chapters may not be suitable for "general audiences."


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