Published on September 3rd, 2009 | by TLV News0
“The Vacation: Part 1” by Vera P.
Illustration by Michael Ikeda-Chandler
If you want to see a cat that is afraid of the strawberry tops, come here, in this house on the river, put the strawberry top near the cat and she will jump up to half a yard and run away, like in sight of a huge spider or a mad dog.
House on the river. Something was splashing in the water all the time. I want to think that it was alligators—while we were swimming around. Maybe it was just turtles and fish.
The house was built by Shane, a smiley tanned guy with big dark eyes and wavy brown hair. The house looks like a picture from the modern magazine. Casings are made of polished knotty wood slabs; furniture is hand built of the same amber wood. House is full of unique pottery, hand made by Shane as well. Sherie, Shane’s wife, a beautiful witty blonde, keeps the house in a laid back, tidy manner.
First floor was for guests. Futon, opened windows, jeweler bench—Sherie makes jewelry there. Windows look at the river. You could jump in the water almost from the back porch. Also you could see the boat…
It sits on the water. Shane and his friends Chad and Allen are working on it every spare weekend—it’s going to be a 12 sails galleon. Right now it’s the base of an old shrimp boat. It needs a lot of work, but they are very fond of that project and give themselves two years to finish it. After it’s built, they are going to sail to Virgin Islands. What for, they will decide later. It just sounds so tempting—Virgin Islands. It might be a virgin’s sanctuary there.
Allen worked on the boat, doing some dirty job of scratching it inside. I was lazy, splashing in the river and reading.
We ate huge po-boy sandwiches with fried oysters and shrimp. I’ve never had anything like that in my life!
Next day we were heading to the lakeside picnic in North Alabama. We were good on the schedule until the belt broke. Under a pouring rain we were stopped beneath the bridge, engine overheated. Allen put his forehead on the steering wheel, thinking. I offered my help—to catch a ride and to bring the belt. He said it’s dangerous. After some more thinking I was trying to open the door, but the bridge border didn’t let me do it. Quietly I said, “You know, the funniest thing is that I have to go pee and can’t open the door. I could use the bushes if you pull off a little.”
All of a sudden he moved his head, his eyes brightened, and he started the engine and drove some. After a while, when all lights and signals went off again, he turned the engine off—luckily it was downhill. While we were moving, the air cooled the engine and he could repeat the same thing again. The rest area was in a mile. I ran to the restroom, while he was talking to the older gentleman working there and found out that there was a part shop nearby—downhill again.
The local in his fifties found us the pulley and the belt. He also told a story in this stretchy, soft voice.
“I had the same problem when I went to my first date. No lights, engine overheated. Me and my girl got stuck in a middle of nowhere. But she had a panty hose on her, so she gave it to me. I used this thing as a belt and it worked. When we came back to her house, I had to walk in. Her Daddy asked, what she was doing when I was pulling her panty hose down. I had to get him to the car and show, where it went. He still looked very suspicious.”
The sinewy, tiny but muscled guy offered help. White wife-beater, black tight jeans, boots, and a bucket leather hat. Strawberry blonde curly hair. I was trying to memorize all his tattoos. Marijuana leaf, tiger, eagle, naked woman— not the whole list. He had a wrench Allen could use. Before the trip, I happened to put a Gerber knife in my girly purse. It was handy as well—the plastic pulley got burned and splashed all hot plastic over the other pulleys. So my friend Allen needed to dig all the plastic from where it didn’t belong.
Well, I was amazed how fast it all was repaired. If it were me, I would lose a whole day or two and a shit load of money. All it cost us was seventy backs and an hour of vacation time. I didn’t say it, but I was enjoying that unplanned break and wanted to write it all down right there, but thought that it would look silly-pulling out the memo pad and scratching something in it in front of serious men doing the men’s job. I was trying to memorize as much as I could. The result is—I can’t pull the whole picture out of my head.
Vera P. serves coffee and writes stories in Oxford, Mississippi.
This article was originally published in The Local Voice #88 (published September 3, 2009).