Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By Henry Simpson

Mike realized he’d skipped lunch, ordered a gin and tonic from the flight attendant, and tried to relax. He deserved a reward for at last escaping Reno. The cocktail was not much to feel guilty about. When it arrived on a tray within reach, he ogled it as alkys sometimes do and was about to reach for it when his cellphone buzzed. He searched various pockets for it, until he remembered the little blue belt holster a friend had gifted him. He unclipped the cover and extracted the phone. An incoming call from Rosalind. Who the hell was Rosalind? “Hello, This is Michael Riley.”

A silent line, except for the caller’s steady breathing, something familiar about its unusually slow respiratory rate. “Michael, love!” A woman’s voice. Not his mother, God bless her, and thank God she was now on the permanently retired list.

“Mrs. Hunter?” She, whom he’d always called her just that, never by a first name he’d never heard her mention. He’d not seen or talked to her since his pool-cleaning days, though she’d often played leading lady in dreams.

“How are you, my darling boy?”

Mike laughed. “I’m doing okay. How about you?”

“Oh, the usual troubles and concerns, you know. Nothing too serious, except for one thing, or perhaps two or three. That’s not bad, considering life’s uncertainties. Are you still poling pools and lonely ladies?”

“I got fired from that job for gross misjudgment.”

“Oh, my, Michael. What are you doing to make both ends meet these days?”

“I drive an ambulance and rescue people in distress.”

“Do you lose many?”

“Not too many.”

“How very impressive, Michael. I’m delighted to hear you’ve found your place in the casino of life.”

“How’re things on the home front for you these days, Mrs. Hunter?”

“Please, Michael. Call me Rosalind. To answer your question, Mr. Hunter took up with a floozy at work and left me. You know how that old story goes.”

“How did it work out for you?”

“Not too bad. I sued him for divorce, and now I’m living alone and lonely in this big house, and the swimming pool’s green with algae and filled with leaves and muck.”

“How is Duchess?”

“Duchess is fine, though I swear she misses you. You always used to visit on Tuesday mornings at nine a.m., and she still goes out to the pool every Tuesday morning and waits for you there.”

Mike laughed. “You made that up.”

“I saw it in a movie. It’s a great story, don’t you think?”

“I miss her too, so sweet tempered.”

“You should drop by and visit her sometime. Visit me while you’re at it. We won’t be here for too much longer, I hope. The house is on the market.”

“Where will you go next?”

“I’ll decide that when the house is sold and money’s in the bank. Do you still live in Oceanside?”

“Yes, downtown, with three roommates.”

“Then drop by and visit us. You can clean my pool and we can barbecue or order takeout. After that, who knows?”

“Say when, Rosalind.”

“Tonight?”

###

Henry Simpson is the author of novels, short stories, and technical works, e.g., Amazon fiction. He studied engineering and did graduate work in English and Psychology at UC Santa Barbara. He lives in Monterey, California.

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