Saturday, December 30, 2006

western hospitality

The boy paused, still blowing into his gloved hands.
"Are you lost?"
The gloves dropped, and the boy looked up, his blue eyes heated with a sudden strange intensity. He gazed, searching, for a long moment.
Discomfort grew on the back of Joshua's neck like hot, prickly moss.
He ventured further hospitality.
"Do you need something?"
Joshua read the answer that leaped into the boy's eyes but never made it to his cracked lips.
He felt Ebenezer pushing against his leg again and heard the faint whisper of conscience begging him to open the door, bring the boy in, seat him by the fire.
He stiffened his legs and broke the gaze, pretending to hear something within the house.
"Hold on." He turned and pushed the door almost closed and bustled back to the pot on the stove which was, as chance would have it, almost boiling over.
He belabored the task of moving the pot to a hotpad on the counter and turning the stove off.
He walked reluctantly back to the door, ignoring Ebenezer who stood staring at the door.
The boy was halfway down to the road when he swung the door open again.
He quelled the burst of satisfaction that spread hot guilt all over him.
"Do you-" he began, but bit it off, unsure of what to say, or what he wanted to say.
The boy, not hearing or disregarding, bounded down the slope and hit the road in a dead run, disappearing quickly.
Joshua leaned against the doorjamb, watching the last place the Dallas Cowboys parka had flashed through the trees.
The longer he stood there with the door open, letting the warmth of the house rush out like vapor into the snow, watching for, hoping against, another glimpse of royal blue, the more satisfied he became that he'd done what he could.
At last, a chill shuddering over his shoulders, he stepped back and closed the door.
It was snowing again.

He picked up Copperfield, stroking the black head between the ears until a rumbling purr pulsed against the feline's ribcage.
Dumping him lightly at his water bowl, he retrieved a bowl and spoon from the cabinet, ignoring the irriation he felt with Ebenezer who lay in front of the fireplace, head resting on his paws, ears pricked and eyes trained on the door.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

With an ear tuned to the simmering pot on the stovetop, he surfed aimlessly, merging onto the billion lane cyber super freeway and cruising in the fast lane, blazing through carefully prepared sites at a dizzying speed, caught up in the attention deficit culture.
He slewed into a site with the informative url and spun out, carefully picking through selected information archives on Monet.
Monet was precisely his ideal of the perfect artist. Not crass enough to depict matter in it's bold reality, not presumptuous enough to think he could exactly duplicate the beauty of his subject, and yet not so temperemental as to disregard any and all semblance of reality and cast order to the wind.
Sparse were the collections of artwork in Joshua's cabin, but each one was chosen carefully for its taste and placed deliberately, fulfilling its aesthetic potential.
No computer-generated glassed-in prints of winding rivers, cheery lighted cabins, or budding roses adorned his wall.
The sound of a dog dish skittering across tile, an explosive, inquisitive bark
and the scrambling of claws across hardwood was the only preamble to a thunderous knock on the front door.
It sounded thunderous because it had never happened before. Ever.
The heavy oak door hung on brushed brass hinges by Joshua's own hands had never fallen under the summons of a human hand.
Telling it was, that the option of not answering the door never occurred to him even though perfectly social people did it all the time. It certainly would have been an acceptable quirk for a hermit.
It was what he'd been waiting for, after all. What was solitude without discovery?
Solitude was meant to be discovered. Without discovery, it grew stagnant.
This thought never occurred to Joshua overtly, still, the blood pulsed in his head as he proceeded to the door. Joshua held no hate for the human race. He wasn’t even jaded. He was simply temperamental, and in danger of becoming extremely eccentric.
Ebenezer and Trotwood hung back, disconcerted.
He unconciously cast a glance about the room, searching for imperfections, reaching for the doorknob.
He swung the door open.
He wouldn't have been so eager.
A boy, nine or ten, blue toboggan, Dallas Cowboys parka, gloves, too big, shuffling his dingy tennis shoes over the packed snow.
Ebenezer thrust his big head in between Joshua and the door, but removed it quickly when Joshua surreptitiously squeezed his head in between his leg and the door.
He said hi with that bright ring of expectancy that said, I think your cabin is really cool. Aren't you going to invite me in? I'll play with your dog.
With all his reclusive soul, he wished to simply step back and shut the door.
Of course he couldn't. Mostly because he couldn't simply ignore the fact that an undesirable breach of his sanctuary had occurred. A child meant others, others who had no better sense than to let children wander and disturb. What if there were more children? A vulgar vision of his yard littered with deflated, sun-bleached basketballs, a forgotten blue and yellow plastic three-wheeler, an overturned slide,
and a blue plastic swimming pool filled with stagnant water and dead leaves filled his mind.
Joshua measured his tone. "Hello."
A silent pause ensued in which the intruder inexplicably cupped his gloved hands and breathed into them.
A reluctant hint of civility crept into Joshua's voice, "What can I do for you?"
"Um. . ."
You want to come in. Because it makes perfect sense that since you exist and you are a child that you have the right and even the invitation to impose yourself on anyone and everyone.