Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Soft spoken they had been getting used to each other sitting outside under the tin roof of the old gas station. CJ stopped by with his fiancée. The tone of the conversation changed. The talk was guns and rifles, they came out of the pickup truck and CJ sighted, checked and moved every movable part and eventually could not get the ‘bottom loader’ to shut tight anymore.

It was then that CJ announced his impending wedding. She, tall with flowing hair and a gentle soul looked apologetically down. It was not her idea. The thought scared her, yet the gesture of asking her was meant to be generous and caring. She had been through a lot with CJ. She knew the caring would be hers to do, between the heart trouble and the nightmares…

While they fought, maimed, bombed, sprayed and gored, saw death and destruction and sowed the same, she grew up listening to the news, marching in the peace marches. She woke up with nightmares of burned children and young men without legs. CJ too woke up every night to them. Not knowing what he was doing he would take his gun, cock it and walk around the house, look in every corner. Cin then would calm the wild look in his eyes. He hoped that they, that is the Veterans Administration, would recognize that he was crazy and paranoid and pay him a pension and grant full health care for him and his family. It was the plan to give Cin security that way, an honorable plan after a life of two and a half tours as a volunteer, then working as a cook or cowboy because he could not stand the confinement of having a boss.

Nobody knew whether he had been a tunnel rat. He never said a word, probably was slightly offended at the one foot lettered peace sign over the gasstation’s door wrapped in Christmas lights. About a block away was the best spot to read it properly.

With Cin most things went unspoken. There was no need to explain, elucidate. The inclination of the head, the repressed tears, the smiles had told all. Probably she was aware it was going to be a hurricane ride. Love and caring can bring one to strange spots. There was no need to apologize either for the outrageous comments he made at the table one evening. They should shoot all democrats. The democrats are worse than communists. They should go into Iraq, take his gas and kick his ass. Yes, everybody knows how he is and everybody seems to have forgotten when exactly CJ moved in with her. Probably at the time his Rottweiler died. It was also the time when both her sons joined the Army within a couple of months. In her loneliness, she had put up the brave front of any Army mom. The world was not in a good way. Her boys were gentle, had an uncanny talent for bizarre stories, well written. The boys were also big and strong and joining the forces might just be the only way ever to get through college… What to say about that? She lost one and the younger one couldn’t deal with a dead hero brother, left the Army and got in with a rough crowd. There is hope for him; he was the better writer. He might just be gathering the dirt under the fingernails that good stories are made with. Having CJ as a protector in the house must have seemed a godsend to her who holds no violent thoughts. The town heard her sing Christmas carols, saw her grieve her son, saw her still believe in a purpose for all that pain. And seeing her, anger against the universe was hot.

Many have been in that spot where between flashes of genius, mood swing and old fears of dying, the days are eaten away, balking at the caring role of a housewife on top of everything else. Maybe Cin can pull off, what pulled others down. Some women are not a natural talent, resent the time spend in dusting and mopping. Give them a laptop, a paintbrush, a job anytime over the vacuum cleaner:

There is a job to do
the getting up at six
feeding the dogs
watering the plants
washing the dishes
drying them
and putting them away
scrubbing and
washing drying and
putting everything away
use knife and forks
wash them dry them
put them away again
walk the dog
cut off some blossom
arrange it in a vase
brush your teeth
change your clothes
and go to work
come home and go to work -

When is your time to be a woman?

Of course there were also times of luxuriant happiness then.

Some girls alone stay alone and vow never to compromise on love, lower their expectations or darn socks for anybody. Gentle talk and the time and place when one needs to be held in a good and warm, caring way that makes the body sing, make the women fall falling failing doubting, falling. The prayer has been to have the strength not to accept out of need, out of loneliness what only should happen, because it was meant to be.

CJ sat in the bar and told nobody in particular how he ended up here in this godforsaken place that fries your brain in summer and chills your bones in winter winds. Nobody tells me what to do. Not even my father could. I did, as a volunteer, two tours of duty. One day the Fonda women came and sang for us and she said, we shouldn’t be there; that we all should go home. So I went to see my officer and told him: I am going home. He asked me why, so I replied that Fonda had told us all to go home. The commander shrugged and sent me back to my quarters. Big laughs all around, they know about Jane Fonda in these parts. Some of the cars still have the bumper sticker saying: Jane Fonda communist traitor bitch. Some people seem to carry a grudge for over 30 years. The need of others to justify all the suffering that war caused, the need to make it right, by making it honorable is overwhelming here…

CJ has a soft spot. He loves animals, values their trust and loyalty. Was it her kindness that drew him to Cin? What need he fulfills for her. She defers to him. At home, her home, she still treats him as an honored guest. Bringing coffee or tea, being attentive to his needs. Maybe after a year or two becoming more like a wife than a lover to him. No public display of intimacy between them. The only clue is that she kind of dresses up, when seen with him. Did she after the end of the previous marriage, after seeing her sons go, and one never to return, feel superfluous and does he give purpose and center to her life, filling the place of pain with here and now. Does she know what it is to burn body and soul for love? Does she long for that? And you? Will you be able to rise from your ashes and be free, and wild and wondrously whole? Dogs, after loosing their master, take to the kindness and warmth of another voice, in new fidelity…

Cin, you know, jeder Anfang ist schwer.

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