She so wished to have this one thing in her life.
Impatiently sitting, smoking cigarettes exhaling large plumes casting white clouds hovering before her. Long dark hair waterfall-like tumbling over slender shoulders, strong determination displayed on facial expression holding high cheekbones.
Drinking her black coffee, staring blankly into familiar space of her kitchen, eyes meeting that of her moms.
“Damn it, mom! When?”
Taking a lazy swig of vodka, her mother firmly says: “When it’s time, Mari.”
This July was very hot, indeed, much hotter than most.
Picture a time before Air Conditioning made all things as equal as gas heat in a Northern winter. Think of this simple fact of life: In the winter, you can always add more clothing, more barriers to protect from the cold. In high summer, in Northern climbs known then, you could only take off so much without shedding flesh. During this time, AC was not so expended in average life in the USA: new technology that only went toward the rich.
9AM in the morning, Mari’s older children rushed the kitchen, hair flowing madly about, eyes wide and happy. “Is it time, mom?” they asked in the sweetest sound of a duet.
“No! Nothing yet. What do you want for breakfast?” Mari asked, resigned to a simple belief that ran her life.
Holly and Heidi spoke in unison, excited: “Eggs and bacon, Mom!” The younger asked for French toast as an afterthought, her older sister giving her a shove with left elbow. “well, pancakes would be good, “ she said, correctly her stance at her sisters nudge.
Laughing, her mom having had several three-shot glass of vodka, asked: “can I help?” Grey, poorly died hair over scrawny bones turning inebriated glance toward the Frigidaire.
Standing, Mari, shifting body with the weakest of equilibrium to correct imbalance continuing each day with much annoyance, “I’ll give you the eggs to scramble, mom.” Aiming bulging, pulsating, frame to the right as it involuntarily goes toward the left, she meets the fridge.
Daughters in the pantry, scuffling about, clanking plates and silverware. Smiles on the faces of daughters ages 3 and 8. Dog barking in background from a small yard where grass would never grow.
Outside: Sunny warm morning threatening toward the hot. Thick air smashing down, long before there was a thing called the ‘pollution standard index’ or the EPA. Graphite married with industrial waste would fall in the tiniest of particles. So much so like nuclear fall out fell on Prypiat without the immediate urgency to leave. Being ignorant at this time, theirs was no disgrace as they simply did not know. No one did to be truthful.
Handing her bombed mom a whisk, nine eggs and stainless mixing bowl, “have at it,”Mari spoke, sounding less aggravated than before.
Taking a deep inhale, pulling a pound of sliced smoked bacon from the fridge, she aimed herself toward the cutting board in the pantry. Sharpest of kicks nailing her, left jabs, faltering, countering to her right.
“Whoa, mom! I got you!” her eldest daughter corrects her with steadfast arm.
Hastily grabbing another mixing bowl with her left hand, sending right hand to the upper shelf to take the Bisquick mix and slamming it down on white-pearled counter top.
Water, some milk, an egg, stir with fork for ….
Dutifully doing this, forgetting and not caring how many strokes she had either gone too far or not enough. Bowl in hand, angry, defiant face, she pushes toward the stove.
Pulling ironware from the bottom broiler area, it being heavy and her mentally telling its heavy weight: Fuck You! Damn you! I can still make breakfast.
“Would someone get me a slab of butter from the fridge, please?” Taking control of her ever-changing faculties, Mari’s voice, always holding an even tone and cadence with each word spoken.
“Okay, Mom! I will!” Holly’s voice and eyes matching tonal excitement did as asked. Her long hair bouncing about wildly with her determined movement pushed her.
Butter melting slowly on 14 inch iron skillet to the forward right burner and thickly sliced bacon meet.
HISSSSSSSSS, POP! POP! HISSSSSSSSSS. Popopoppopop. HiiiiiiiiiSSSSSSS!
Glorious smell, when smoked pork entreats a morning.
Sighing, Mari heads toward the pantry.
Holly stands quickly, seeing, sighting, knowing.
“ I’m okay, Holly,” her back to Holly, knowing her eldest most well, smiling with pride. Pulling a bigger mixing bowl from the shelf to her left.
“Here you go, mom!” an 8 year old Holly hands her mother a roll of paper towels.
“Thank you, “
\ KICK-THUD-LEFT then RIGHT.
Body shifting, correcting, maintaining. Frustration, aggravation and an utter look of: Fuck It shines on Mari’s face.
Pulling several hunks of paper towels and placing them in the mixing bowl, she looks at the popping, sizzling bacon.
Mari, doing as she has for so many a summer morn since she got married, wonders, what is her steadfast husband, Theodore, doing right now.
Bad, heavily laden air. Metal dust, contaminated steam and the worst man could create for production and living. Filling nostrils with the worst and deadliest before medical science and the EPA took over, decades far too late for most.
Teddy, as he was called by his men in the mill with profound respect, did as he told them.
Teddy bowled with some of them and would buy them rounds yet seldom drank with them.
“Ted! She there yet?” his friend, Frank Gartner asked him, passing through thick steel dust, beaming fondly toward Ted.
“Haven’t gotten a call yet. Getting long though.” Ted looked concerned. Looking a sheets of paper from the mornings run, not happy.
“What, Ted?” Frank inquired, smirk on face knowing where his friend was at this time in his life.
“Falling behind on production, Frank. I shou-”
“Ted!” he said, cutting him off. “We’re going to put you on Fire-Watch for a bit. Just cover the night shift and make sure nothing, no one, gets fried to a cinder. Company orders, nothing personal.”
“Yes, sir, “ Ted said, a sense of relief flowing through him. Mind not being on his game, concern toward the greatest love of his life, wanting nothing but to be with her, yet feeling he would fail her and his daughters by not working. Mixed directions, coming to a busy crossroad where green lights shined on all sides. Confusion.
Being one of the Company, a Marine, following orders. He went to Fire=Watch.
Finishing his shift, back-slapping his crew, his men, them wishing him luck as time reached critical mass. He left the mill, his other home, and drove to her.
Being without the amazing Fast food places of the here and now, mind wondering what he could do, he decided to cook tonight's meal.
Crossing over the Clark Avenue Bridge, the proud iron stance it held for over a mile in length going over the Cuyahoga and both J&L and Republic Steel plants. His Oldsmobile humming in 8 cylinder bliss with a four barreled carburetor saying “floor me to the firewall”, holding a steady 45 MPH. Crossing West Fourteenth street, single word, food thought, nails him: Meatloaf!
Heading to the West 14 Drugstore to get his Blood pressure meds, turning left at the first major intersection after crossing the bridge, he powered the Olds. After pulling into a parking lot that decades would become a Lawsons dairy, <anyone remember the commercials: Roll on, Big O! Nonstop Run for that nonstop Lawsons run! > Big O, being Orange Juice. Do you remember?
He parks. Steps from the car and walks to a drugstore so far gone from what we know today. Opening door, smell of mildew and various medications, sweets of candy, seeing huge blue, orange and green liquids shrouded in glass. Walking to the Pharmacist he’d known for ages, being greeted by him as Ted wasn’t a quarter way up the main isle.
“I got your medication, Teddy. Always glad to see you!”
“How’s the little woman?” truly excited voice states over high counter as the Pharmacists face cascades toward Teddy.
“Not yet,” Ted says in a voice somewhat unsteady. “not like the others.”
“She’ll be fine. Don’t you worry about a thing. God watches and protects.”
“You got any roses today?”
“For you and your good wife? Just a minute,” the Pharmacist disappears.
Looking idly over the three isles of various items ranging from Carters Little Liver Pills to Hershey Bars, unacceptable to mention female specific items (Period pads and such) to Coke and Pepsi beverages, Ted stands there, thinking of his loving wife and what he helped create in her.
Pharmacist, seeing his fondest of his patrons looking away, calls him, snapping Teds body in a 180 turn.
“My gift to your wife! And here’s your medication.”
Stunned, Ted looks and sees his friend not only holding him his bag but also handing him a bouquet of roses.
Looking, astonishment grasping face, “thank you! She will love these!”
"No charge on the Roses, Teddy."
Paying, turning , walking happily, walking to his car parked across the street.
` Teddy heads home at 3:30 pm on July twenty-fifth, 1962.
Authors Note: This is the first part of a serious time frame entry to the BLOG I started on March three of 2012. It has a sound, not to mention profound sense of timing as the inspiration of its sender gave me a specific set of circumstances to follow to do it justice.
I so hope I can do this well.
God willing and strength granted me: I will, SO HELP ME, GOD!
Massive thanks to Dave Torres and his words, thoughts given, not to forget the Sender, for placing me these words that I could not vision and describe without divine inspiration.
Mark William Darus. Three Thirteen AM, July 25, 2012.