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(4) Chapter Four

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that evening..

Got to admit.. I was pretty fidgety.. and managed to get on Shirley’s nerves just a bit.. course she had no idea.. though I’d tried to kind of explain the unexplainable to her.. but to her it probably seemed like I’d just invited yet another new player for dinner.  But then again.. she must have caught something of my strange instinct.. and had put on more than a special spread.. or so it seemed to me.  And her devilish intuition never ceased to amaze me.. and probably never would.

Through the kitchen window Shirley watched the black truck  gliding to a stop in her driveway.. a black and white mottled kayak angled up and stretching out over the tailgate. There was a loud rumble as the engine was revved to clear the plugs and a very large, black, furry creature disappeared over the far side of the truck box as the driver emerged from the cab and stretched..

“well here we go! the mystery kid has arrived.. Darcy’s big find in the flesh.. and what was that jumping out of the truck just then?”

She watched the  young man intently through the window as he stretched.. and stepped over to examine the basketball net hanging over the garage.. reaching upward on one foot, he could just hook his fingers into the bottom of the mesh. After flexing the backboard several times lightly, he released it and gave a light whistle and headed around to the front door. She finally noticed that he had what looked like a small bouquet in his right hand and from the corner of her eye caught a large black blur slicing through the yard to his side. She gave a quick shake of her head and turned from the window.

“Lordamercy , I wonder.. I surely do just wonder”

She did a quick check through the oven window, pulled a mixed salad out of the fridge, balanced it and her special dressing as well as a plate of smoked Black Alaskan Cod in one hand and arm and scooped up salt and pepper in one smooth motion with the other hand and strode into the dining room.. neatly cuffing the long pair of legs that tried to trip her enroute..

“He’s here.. the boy wonder.. with some kind of devil creature that’s roaming the neighbors” yards.. and probably eating their cats..  why don’t you get off your skinny butt and invite them all in toute suite..”

Darcy rose swiftly and went for the passing plate of cod, he caught  the high elbow sent his way and rolled away easily to try from the other side. Her quick reaction had him foiled easily.. so there was nothing to do but continue to the front screen door in time to see Jimmy step up and duck under the wild growth of the trellis.

“Come on in.. Jimmy.. nice to see you.. my wife Shirley”

“Evening maam , thank you for the invitation.. mighty nice of you……Jimmy Walker. How do you do..”

“Just fine thank you..  no maam’s please.. are those for me?”

A small bouquet emerged from part way behind the young man’s back.. and with a warm smile were quickly extended to the slim blonde woman..”

“Yes maam.. uh.. sorry..  thanks so much for having me for dinner..”

“Shirley… or just call me Shirl will you..  they’re beautiful..  I don’t think I’ve ever seen these flowers before.. what are they.. and you’ve bagged the roots in a plug..  what kind of light do they need? What kind of soil? Darcy.. grab me a trowel will you dear..  I want to put these darlings to bed right now.. and a small pitcher of water .. come this way Jimmy.. I have just the spot against the south wall.. if that’s what they like.“

She led the way through the kitchen  and stepped through the back door, looking back at Jimmy and asking where that large black animal was. As her head turned a furry creature .. sitting on its haunches was parked there, confronting her with head cocked sideways and huge white teeth grinning at her.  She pulled up instinctively, causing Jimmy to run into her from behind.. he hadn’t seen his dog as Shirley’s figure blocked his view. She stumbled forwards with Jimmy’s momentum propelling her as the dog suddenly arose and lunged backwards to avoid being stepped on. There was a moment of confusion as the three bodies came together, entangled momentarily and Sally suddenly fell toward the ground as one of Jimmy’s feet caught her heel.. Jimmy went halfway down.. yet somehow catching Shirley before she hit the ground. The huge dog recovered its poise and came quickly to the rescue, nose first.. bringing a shriek from Shirley who’s face was suddenly inches from the apparition that had caused the whole train wreck in the first place.. A dry laconic voice came from the doorway..

“Glad to see the three of you getting along so well..”

Darcy stepped into the yard and extending a hand.. helped Shirley untangle herself, handed her a trowel and glass of water, patted the dog on the head and turned to Jimmy..

“It’s a little quieter inside..  c’mon in.. let Shirl and your mutt figure out how to get that planted..”

“Let me introduce you to Quinn.”

The black dog gave two little hops and shook itself,  bouncing up to Jimmy and giving him a playful but powerful rub against his knee.. then turned his huge grin to Shirley who laughed under her breath and turned to the side of the house, ignoring the two males.

“Hello Quinn, you can call me Maam.”

It was a relaxing dinner and she listened curiously, as did her husband.. to his responses to their friendly questions.  and in turn Jimmy had curious and friendly questions and seemed very interested in her work as a cultural anthropologist and her interest in totem iconology. He lightly corrected her on one particular historical anecdote that she described about the totem poles of the west coast but it seemed more of a story telling than an effort on authenticity.  To the blue eyes watching him and listening, it was clear that his knowledge of west coast heritage had not come from a book.. but a far richer resource. He had certainly been told.. and had listened to the aural culture he sprang from.  His connection to Orca seemed almost spiritual, even disconcerting.. as he expanded on her interpretation of the great mammals and the symbology of his coastal people.

“There’s just something about him that’s so familiar.. what is it?”

“Do you by any chance know of the studies by Katherine Edwards at UBC? She’s the one who’s been doing a lot of work with all the data and imagery from the whale watchers to the south of Bella Coola? I know she’d love to hear some of those stories.”

“Can’t say that I have Maam.. Shirley.. sorry,, at least not by that name.  I’ve heard of some pretty interesting stuff that’s being done.. mainly through some of the surfers and kayakers I know down that way. And I know that there’s a lot of work being done with underwater recordings and the like.”

“I think you’d remember her if you’d met her.”

To Darcy.. the connection between his wife and young Jimmy was remarkable, and they discussed stuff that was way over his head but incredible to listen to.  He never ceased to marvel at this woman who sat there so easily.. yet had marvelous things to say. Her expression was particularly interesting to Darcy.. as he hadn’t seen that kind of rapt focus and expression from her in quite a while as she kept her work at the University seperate from her home life. But tonight she seemed to be on a wavelength with Jimmy and the exchange was almost blurring to Darcy.

The young man’s table manners were exceptional and he politely took her advice regarding seconds.. but declined thirds. He did look casually at the last slice of ham.. was caught in the act and finally accepted her insistence that he do the honours. She barely caught him as he adroitly tucked the last of it into his napkin.. and scolded him, letting him know she had a healthy chunk left in the kitchen for his dog. He smiled at being caught so easily.. and leaned back in his chair lightly.

“Absolutely  awesome Shirley.. and Darcy.. scalloped potatoes you say!  Have to have that recipe for my grandmother.. she’d do it justice.. and that’s for sure for sure for sure..”

She watched the young man with more than growing interest as he tucked away the last bites.. there was something special about him, no doubt about  it.. too good to be true? She was beginning to doubt that.. and was beginning to understand why Darcy had come home.. so.. so much almost in a dream state with a far away look in his eyes..  This simple kid with the dark eyes seemed to bring a … a projection with him.. like a large transient bubble of hope.. belief..  and his connection to the whales was staggering to her. Perhaps more than anyone she could relate to just what this young man was saying. In particular he had knowledge of the overall ecology of the island and its relationship to the indigenous people that was brilliant and insightful.. yet it came from him like he was simply telling a story. 

How strange.. she thought again as he helped carry the dishes to the kitchen..  the way he moved and carried himself. There was something.. something here.. that arrived with him.. an easiness.. a balance..  a strong force even. She watched the two of them laughing as they did the dishes.. so natural.. beguiling even..

And then she saw it.. like a bolt of enlightenment that took her breath away. He’d passed Darcy the small platter still dripping.. and remarkably, Darcy had let it slip from the dish towel. Jimmy had easily flexed and pulled the falling plate from the air. It was like things had slowed down.. way down.. she’d seen the moment clearly.. the slip of the plate..  the blur of its fall arrested somehow.. and the easy return of the platter to Darcy’s waiting dishtowel. But in the same instant she’d seen the glancing look to the dog.. and the immediate surge in energy from within the huge animal..   simply a glance from young man to dog.. but an instantaneous  and boisterous little cry had leapt from its throat.. and it fairly vibrated while holding its spot .. yet the dark black eyes danced.. and the huge grin of white teeth was so revealing to her..  she recognized the bond.. and the connection between the two. It was a constant and wide pipeline..  and she suddenly saw the clue of shamanism.. and understood immediately.. what that bubble was.. that sense of clarity the young man brought to a space.

For God’s sake.. she’d been studying.. culture.. tribalism.. and the hidden shades of shamanism.. for what..? 15 years now..  and here it was in the flesh.. all wrapped up in this kid from seemingly nowhere..  he “spoken” to his dog.. without words.. he had uncanny balance.. and the way he’d caught the falling plate.. seemingly disturbing or .. displacing space.. slowing things down….

There was a presence to him.. an innate easiness.. this was one to watch.. Yes.. this was a very special person who had walked into her husband’s life.. and now hers.. as just listening and talking with him in the last half hour had broadened her perspectives of the west coast environment and its aboriginal people.. astoundingly so. Where was he going? What was his pathway? If he was truly shamanistic.. he was on a powerful path. There would be strong forces wherever he passed.. wherever he was. All indications from Darcy were that this kid had arrived to play baseball.. bearing a strong message from the past..  .. and that dreamy look in Darcy’s eyes.. total ease..  she felt it too.. in herself..

She shook her head.. and stepped outside.. the dog followed, easily shrugging through the closing door.. seemingly curious about her. She stepped to the small vibrant plant that now resided outside her house. The dog seemed to inspect the little plant intently.. as if there was a message.. a place.. a meaning.. and over there.. that silent but poised black truck and kayak.. there seemed a purpose to them. Tools of mobility for land and water.. what was going on here..?

The two of them stepped out onto the driveway, a basketball easily exchanging hands. She knew how Darcy loved the game.. and his ease with the ball.. how it belonged in his knowing hands.. those hands.. oh those hands. She loved Darcy like the air.. his unbelievable belief in her.. his unwavering outlook on life.. his gentle but huge love for her.. God she loved that man.

The two of them playfully jostled under the orange rim… as the dog danced to the periphery of the action.. and she couldn’t help but follow, drawn in by the easy laughter.. the spirit in the moment.. friends..!  Yes.. there was intense friendship in the air.. felt by all.. the dog seemed the receptor to something here.. he fairly trembled with energy.. seemingly understanding all around it..   part of the moment.. yes.. this Jimmy.. had something.. and he extended it in huge shots of presence.. and being.. he drove the moment forward with a positive enveloping vibrance.. she felt it.. saw it.. inhaled it..

Darcy had to marvel at this kid’s.. innate ability.. he had balance..  he had springs in his legs.. and in his hands.. the basketball came to life.. and what a life.. the kid had the ability to snap some kind of spin to it.. with either hand of course.. rolling off the backboard and being vacuumed into the mesh…

He had such  a casualm deceptive path and pace toward the rim.. seamlessly pulling up for a short jumper off the bank.. or that magical upward twitch of a fake then ducking under with a huge and lithe last step before kissing the ball off the reverse side of the backboard. Slippery this kid was.. you simply couldn’t contain him or block him.. he simply rolled away .. always finding a simple path to the rim.. the ball seemingly on a string.. dancing.. always toward the rim.. deceptive.. alive.. with a life of its own..

The light was fading. He was gone.. it seemed so sudden.. yet so easy.. less of a departure.. than a promise..

Shirley watched his truck out of sight, the dog .. grinning as always.. the hand waving from the cab and the kayak.. so reminiscent of a slim killer whale from her perspective..

Darcy was watching the light smile on her face..  wondering as always.. what clear thoughts were going through this beautiful woman.. who was willing to put up with him and brought such sunlight to his life.. such belief.

Their eyes met..  his dark and hazel.. hers bright.. smiling.. dancing..  and blue.  

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Written by diamondwalker

November 25, 2008 at 11:41 pm

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