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(from Jazz Notes in the Misty Blue: A Mountain Empire Anthology)
Lunatic Lunge Overpass, Kentucky”
by Jeannette Harris
Jerome noticed the hissing just in time to run for the kitchen and pull the soup pot off the mini-stove burner. He shook his right hand woefully and examined it for burn marks. It looked fine but he ran cold water over it anyway.
“Dammit, Deb. You forgot the soup. And I damn-near burnt up my playing hand.”
A figure swathed in towels emerged into the hotel room’s living area.
“Let me see. I’ll put butter on it.
“I don’t wanna eat it, god-dammit. I wanna pick with it.”
“It draws the flame out.”
Deb let the towels fall to the floor, opened the little refrigerator door and walked toward Jerome while pulling back the paper from a butter stick.
“Get away from me with that.”
“I have another idea. Diversionary.”
Jerry backed up to the sofa, sat down and relaxed.
“Let’s stop at the next turn-off to get some fresh air,” Patsy suggested.
Mara nodded, keeping her eyes on the distant truck ahead.
“Hungry yet? There’s a great park an hour or so on up. Can you wait? It’s worth it,” she promised.
Pat began singing,”All I want is a room somewhere…..” stumbling over the words.
“Yes, my fair lady. We’ll be bedded down down well and comfortably ‘ere long.”
“How many days now have we been on the road?”
“On the run?”
“Aunt Sophie’s looking forward to meeting you after all these years. She’s real excited about the Kenton Coe gig too.”
“Is that the park?” Pat pointed to a sign on their right.
“It’s only been ten minutes, child. Keep your pants on.”
“Ra-boom-de-yay. Maybe we have been traveling too long.”
“Let’s give it up.”
“No. Eating. It’s an expensive addiction.”
They rode in a friendly silence through thick forests and cleared fields to Langston Pugh Park where Mara turned smoothly into a large graveled parking lot by a porticoed log-style building.
“There’s a great gallery of local crafts inside and fresh-made foods,“ Mara enticed. “The famous gorge is on the other side. There’s patio dining too.”
“And good trails if you need some exercise. I do,” she added.
“There’s the gorge,” Mara swept her right arm toward a clearing close to their tray-laden table. “They’re still looking through the holler at the bottom for the body of that hiker who disappeared last month. She‘ll be the 27th since they‘ve been keeping records.”
“Don’t worry. I can fly.”
“Uh-huh. Let’s go take a look. It’ll knock your socks off.”
They walked slowly toward the railing.
“Whoa,” Pat exclaimed. ”I wanna live by that stream there. Let’s set up.”
Mara grinned. ”Knew you’d love it.”
“Groove. Vee. I am retiring right in that spot. Undisclosed spot. They can look for my body forever. They’ll never find it.”
Mara leaned back against an aged maple whose leaves were just beginning to turn shades of orange.
"Ready?" she asked, straightening and turning back toward the patio path.
"Yeah," Pat sighed reluctantly. "Let's ride."
The bike careened in the mud toward a ditch too close to a cliffside dropoff.
Kevin determined to ditch the wheels and walk the last half-mile or so to the rental farmhouse.
Dragging their groceries in the spare feedsack, he aimed intently for the gated open courtyard.
“Hey, man, what happened?” Scott yelled from a pondside lounge chair.
“Mud. Rain,” Kevin responded succinctly. letting loose of the sack and pulling up a woven chair.
“Fish biting?” he asked without interest or enthusiasm.
“Naw. They’re becalmed by all the algae,”Scott explained.
“Dog days. Nothing moves. Not even a friggin breeze.” Ken observed in wearily worn disgust.
Scraping the chair back on the concrete deck, he added,” Gotta get this stuff inside to the a/c before it rots.”
“Yeah. Wanna go tubing later?”
“Sure. Why not. Stop by when you’re ready. We may be looped, I‘m warnin’ ya.”
Kevin disappeared with a grocery bag in each arm and his right hand firmly around the neck of a large whiskey bottle.
“Don’t trip,”Scott yelled. “I may join ya.”
“Sure and ye’ll be welcome.” Kevin sidestepped a flash-rain ditch, nearly sliding on drenched grass.
Scott watched him disappear behind thickly-greened trees and stretched deep-tanned legs toward the stagnant pond, reached down for the opened book beside his chair and rested it on his bare thighs. Flipping through pages, he dug his small scratchpad and pen out from a shorts pocket and returned absorbedly to the notes he’d been making for the regularly-awaited club article due next week.
As dusk closed in on the pages, he gathered together the instruments of that avocation hobby and stood to walk thoughtfully toward the trees where Kevin had disappeared hours earlier.
“Toddy time,” he announced loudly, aiming pebbles at the front door from the porch steps.
Leona opened it slightly. “Hey, watch it. Come on in. We been waitin on you.”
Scott skipped two stairs to the porch floor, crossed to push open wide the door.
Leona patted the pillowed space beside her on the braided rug. “Have a seat,” she invited.
Scott crossed his legs, waited for Kevin to deliver the evening’s repast of bourbon and ginger, covered Leona‘s small outstretched hand with his to ask, “How ya been, toots?”
“Not bad. Not half-bad.”
“Lookin fine, you be,” Scott assured her.
Leona frowned. “Ain’t where I’m at, frat boy.”
Scott winked in Kevin’s direction.
“Just funnin, old flame.”
Leona turned her hand over and grabbed his with a friendly will. “You still be a heap o’ harm, Big T. Let it be.”
“It be.” Scott replied agreeably with a nod as Kevin intervened with a tall ice-filled glass full to its brim.
Missing My Lover
She made fine sand for me to frolic on.
Soothing waves to girdle belly and behind,
bubbles of froth to smile and wonder upon.
Fragments of her delirious days past cozied
Along my path. Her furied dreads inched
Toward me from the choral of her calmer steppes.
And she wept in whispers around my toes.
Who dares to follow where The River goes?
She leaned into the current and downdraft, using the old wooden paddle to splash cool water onto Celandra’s arms and shoulders that’d turned a warning shade of rosy pink already. Cellie laughed and called out “thanks!” into the wind rushing by, bent forward to avoid a long, overhanging limb just ahead heavily bowed with summer leaves.
Penny steered left toward and onto an evenly pebbled clearing of Elkhorn Creek’s shoreline.
“Looks like a dining room to me,” Cellie chortled expectantly.
“Tuna supreme on zuchini bread,” Penny announced on lifting a cellophane-wrapped packet from their little cooler. “And,” she said with a gracefully outstretched flourish, “a super-chilled strawberry-lime wine cooler.”
“Dessert?”Cellie questioned after a pause.
“Absolutely. Chocolate cheesecake awaits your plate and palate. And pleasure.”
Celandra rested contentedly on a seatpad against the wide stern of the boat, stretched her legs for a table, tossed to her mouth the opened wine cooler, and shuttered rapt eyes to a waning sun preparing to dissemble for its radiant nightly drama into neon streaks straining along the garishly graded greens of our planet’s horizon.
Finch high-stepped down Ruth’s hallway in his sequin-outlined green velveteen tuxedo jacket, swishing dust balls and strands along before him with the theatre’s costume broom.
“Hm-Mm-oooooohm-hmM,” he chanted in low register, passing the empty antique-laden drawing room with its floor-to-ceiling lace-curtained windows opening onto Main Street.
“Fin! What are you doin?” Ruth asked sharply.
Finch leaned, seductively, on the long broom handle.”I’m helping out around the house. Need any other services?” he inquired suggestively.
Ruth giggled, deciding to join in the fun, pulling her dress up to her thighs and striking a pose against the wall with one chubby leg drawn up to her knee.
“Yes, yes,” she answered. “Come hither, fine sir.”
“Tis well and ye ask, lass. This instant will I.” Finch side-waltzed toward her, bowing to the opposite wall.
“Oh!”Ruth exclaimed in mock distress. “Sir, must ye? Have ye taken leave of all your senses ere now?”
Finch swung smoothly to one knee to face her and taking her hand intoned lowly, ”M’lady looks pale to fainting. Shall I fetch the salts?”
“Sir! Hurry, do.” Ruth placed the back of his free hand against her forehead. “Pray run for them.”
Fin rose to imitate a horse galloping toward the dining room and returned with a small cut crystal covered bowl of loose sugar.
“A sweet is the treat you’re hankering, m’lady.” He held out an overflowing silver server spoon toward Ruth’s wide-open persimmon-rouged mouth.