TENDER LOVING CARE

Servant Of The Wind”. I’ll be damned! Dad loved that boat so much, there must be ten photo albums up here”, Susan Parker exclaimed as she and her sister Missy poked around the dusty attic of their childhood home. Their parents had passed away and it was time to clear out the old house. 

“Are you serious?” asked Missy. “Lemme see one of those albums.”   

For two hours they pored over the old family photos. Tossing an album aside, Sue said ruefully, “You know, sis, I really think Dad loved that damn boat more than he loved Mom. 

“Ya think! He sure gave the old “Servant” that special TLC.” 

“A hell of a lot more than he gave Mom”, muttered Susan. 

 Missy stared at her sister. “You know, I think you’re right! Mom would have been on the “Servant” with us if she didn’t get so damn seasick. Remember how she begged Dad to get an RV instead of a boat but he was adamant. ‘I’m alive on the water‘, he’d say. ‘The girls and I will sail down to The Keys while you tend to the garden and write your poems. It’s a win/win for everyone!’ Missy sighed. “All these photos of the “Servant” and Mom isn’t in a single one. Incredible!” 

“I wonder if she was sad being alone so much?” Susan thought aloud. “OK, enough reminiscing. Let’s get these boxes out of here.” 

After clearing out a good section of the attic, Missy spotted an unfamiliar hatbox in the corner. “Hey, Sue! Any idea what’s in there? I’ve never seen it before.” Gingerly removing the top, Missy and Susan began sifting through the contents. Suddenly looking up, their eyes met in astonished disbelief as they realized what they had stumbled upon. In the hatbox were piles of yellowed photos of their Mom with a man they didn’t recognize. Their Mom was beaming, the handsome stranger hugging her tightly. Next to the photos were delicately tissue-wrapped letters. Missy tentatively unfolded one, her eyes widening in amazement. “Read it!” demanded Susan. 

In a shaky voice, Missy read “My darling Lil. You just left and I’m already missing you. I long for the next time we can be together. Loving you – Philip”

The girls sat in stunned silence. 

Pensively Susan whispered, “Mom was having an affair. Well, she certainly was getting love and special TLC. Good for her!” 

NAR © 2017

JUST THIS ONE

“Impressive collection you have here” said Jackson to the owner of the record store.

“Feel free to look around” came a voice from somewhere behind a stack of boxes.

Jackson browsed the tiny cubby of a store, appropriately named “The Inner Sleeve”, looking for nothing in particular. 

“Psst. Down here,” whispered a battered box stashed in the corner. Jackson crouched down to wipe the dust off a yellowed label.

SIDNEY BECHET” 

Feeling a jolt shoot straight to his heart, fingers racing through musty LPs, suddenly there it was- “Les Annees Bechet”, #1: “Petite Fleur”.

“I’ll be damned”, whispered Jackson. No longer was he in “The Inner Sleeve”. It was Paris, 1982 in that enchanting café … what was the name?

Café de la Paix. Yes, that was it!” he recalled. And then, in a barely perceptible hush, “Lisette”.

Slumping back against the wall, Jackson clasped the precious vinyl against his chest, caressed it lovingly with the same fingers that raced through the box just seconds before. The same fingers that released Lisette’s raven hair from its ‘pince à cheveax’ and showered it across her porcelain shoulders. The same fingers that traced her face as gently as butterfly wings – ‘ailes de papillons’ – from her widows peak to her crystal blue eyes, her nose, her blushed lips. “Just this one time” thought Jackson. Just once before returning to his insanely mundane existence in Stamford, Connecticut. Oh, for just one more taste of Lisette.

Slowly Jackson stood, a sadness like none other enveloping him. He suddenly realized he had been crying. He wound his way through the maze of boxes overflowing with records that were meaningless to him. He had found what he didn’t know he was looking for.

“All done, sir?” the clerk asked. 

“Yes, thanks”, Jackson replied. “Just this. Just this one.”

NAR © 2017