Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stinson Beach (working title)

I’m on my way to Nick’s with Maggi. The sun is out after a few days of rain, so I let her off the leash. She darts in and out of the water with the waves, despite the fifty degree weather. You would think that Stinson Beach would provide some nicer weather for February, but California gets cold too. I like to see Maggi run free. There’s something noble about the way her shadow stretches in the purples of a dusk sun. She is a rescue puppy, Maggi, from the shelter just off of Shoreline and Del Piños. I wouldn’t have even seen her if not for Nick. Puma was getting old and he wanted a new cat in the house, so he made me go to the shelter with him. Maggi was a tiny mix of black lab and shepherd that whimpered as soon as I walked in the door. I didn’t think I could afford a dog then, but I couldn’t ignore her.

Nick invited me to dinner to celebrate Ground Hog’s Day. We grew up together, Nick and I. We didn’t have much money back in those days, so it doesn’t surprise me that Nick spends his as freely as he does now. I think tonight he just wanted me to get to know Pam. They had been dating for a while now, but I’d only met her once before at Zio’s. She ordered pepperoni but picked off the ones that weren’t whole. She was cooking for us tonight. She said it would be a pasta dish, but she would make sure to include some meat for Maggi. I stop by the stairs to wait for Maggi, and as she shakes off the water I put on my shoes.

Nick opens the door before I can knock. His house has a wall made completely of glass so that he can watch the sunsets. I guess he saw me walking up the stairs. Maggi pounces on him before I have the chance to hold her back, but Nick likes the attention. When she’s done, I get to give him a hug.

“Roger’s here,” Nick calls out to Pam. She walks out of the kitchen in a skinny black dress that draws attention to her dancer’s calves. Over it is a tickle-me-pink apron with oven mitts tucked into the front pocket.

“Hello, Roger. I’m glad you could make it.” She’s interrupted by Maggi’s eager calls for food. I laugh a thanks while I move past her to grab Maggi a treat. From the kitchen I can hear Pam talking to Nick as I grab the Beggin treats from the cabinet above the fridge.

“Roger, I forgot to pick up some oregano from the market earlier. I’m going to run and get some, but I trust you can keep Nicholas in line.”

“You bet, Pam.”

The door shuts and Nick leads the way back into the den. He grabs a beer from the mini-fridge there and throws me a crème soda. I’ve never been one for alcohol. I ask Nick if there’s a bowl I can use for Maggi while he searches through his floor to ceiling album rack. He loves technology, but Nick has always had a soft spot for vinyl records.

“Yeah, the one you used last week is still by the back door.”

By the time I get back he has The Black Keys jeopardizing the cleanliness of his wood floors with the way the sound is rattling his Sam Adam’s. I smile at him and he winks back.

“I’ve got an idea.”

“Aw c’mon, Nick. You can’t have anything mischievous planned yet.”

He smirks and runs out of the room. I can’t hear his footsteps because of the music, but I figure he’s gone to his room.

“You can still play, right?”

He hands me a battered black case, and I can tell he is serious.

“Yeah, I can still play Nick.”

“Well then, play!”

I pull out the saxophone and put it together while he takes his Fender off the wall.

“Just like the good ole days, hey Rog?”

The saxophone isn’t tuned and we’re both rusty, but we manage to play along to the bluesy tunes. It doesn’t seem like we have been playing for long when I notice a patrol car pull up in Nick’s driveway. Nick runs to the door and I turn off the stereo system. I hear the door open from the den.

“Evening, is this Nicholas Garrett’s residence?”

“Yes, I’m Nick.”

“We’ve received a complaint about the loud music. I’m going to have to ask you keep it down, alright sir?”

I hear Nick laugh and mumble a response. I’m not worried. Nick’s smile has gotten us out of worse situations in the past. I sit down on the brown suede couch and continue to drink my pop. Nick is giggling when he gets back into the room.

“Looks like we still have it, eh Rog.”

“Have what? The ability to be idiots or the charm to get out of trouble?”

He only laughed as he sat down next to me.


“Yeah, Rog”

“Why do you have that old picture still up?”

“The cowboy? It reminds me of home, ya know?”

“I thought you hated New York.”

“No, Rog. I hated being poor. I loved New York.”

“Then, why do we still live here?”

“California’s warmer. Besides, we wouldn’t want to move Maggi, would we?”

“Yeah…” my nervous chuckle earns me a concerned look.

“Roger, what’s bugging you?”

“Nick…Nicholas. Do you remember Vivian?”

“Of course, you two were perfect together.”

“Yeah, and Theresa?”


“Nick, I think I’m gay.”

“I know Rog.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, since Bridget’s party in 9th grade.”


The sound of Pam’s tires crunching gravel in the driveway filled the silence left in the wake of our reminiscent jam session.

“Nick, are we still friends?”

He didn’t answer, but he winked at me before he got up to grab another beer.

Monday, February 22, 2010


save the tantalizing soft crunch
of my feet on lightly packed on snow,
and the ethereal whispering of freight
through the white-tipped trees

but for my thoughts racing
like the flurries of crystal
dusting the black of my jacket

save the fluttering of my heart
and the gentle gracings of my breath