The scent and scenery of August on Palace Avenue is a perfume of Plaza push–carts selling burritos and beef skewers, afternoon thunderstorms splashing the soot and dust from weekend fiestas,low riders spinning and smoking up Palace Avenue, and the blasting booty bump bass in tempo with the wheels as they rise and fall to the concrete, the motorcyclists on four wheels, with jet black hair flapping the wind, like long tongues, and the bicycle riders, glazed eyes, and head-phones, detached, and daringthe driver to predict their next turn, sometimes women, in street shoes, and hats, gliding by, smiling independently, and then the two grumpy men. Five days a week they walk to and from work past my house. One wears a chef’s coat and never raises his eyes from the sidewalk, and The Walrus, whose mustache and face, are griddlded into an expressionless tolerance for all things that happen.
I left the porch, went inside, where I felt the absence of John and Rudy.
John was in Los Angeles at a screenwriting meeting; a triumph for a guy whose waited more than ten years to get an assignment. I imagined him in a trendy restaurant, seated at a table, one foot tapping the floor,and his right hand clutching the corner of the tablecloth his own peculiar fetish to feed the nerves during suspenseful situations. He‘d be dressed in the outfit I picked out, but the shirt would be loosely tucked because that’s his style. Rudy was on his way back to Santa Fe, and eagerly waiting to take out his new Bird, a gal he met at our Baron Wolman book signing.
Absence of their conversations, frivolity, dancing, feasting together, two men who share nothing in common except me, sort of like Jules & Jim, only Rudy and I have been like brother and sister, since 2003. He was the only man I ever trusted before John, and thattook many years, but once he went into the vault of truth and loyalty, I trusted him as I did my mother.
Then after so many days, my bounce and blush started shedding. It was as if someone tied me to an anchor and I dragged my litheness from room to room trying to fight it, with chores, writing, and then all the structure started crumbling, and I left the lights on all night, and didn’t empty the trash, or go out on the front porch to wave at the La Posada crew. I didn’t leave the middle bedroom, the one with the big screen, and I snuggled the silence with old movies,and half read books, and Gummy Bears. I was a heap, unlike the temporarily tide pools we fall in and out of constantly, this was a tidal wave.
The window facing west is an aquarium of pine and cotton trees, and between them, there is JD’s Tree Tee Pee, left over from Fiesta week, but he’s too busy working on his winter addition, to bother with it. I can see the 2nd floor of La Posada, Julia’s room, the daughter that killed herself in the bedroom, and is widely known as the Ghost of La Posada. I’ve listened in on these stories, and staff members see her. New Mexico storytelling is checkered with ghost stories. I saw the light as it transcends the hours of the day, and found the most beautiful time was four in the afternoon. The sunlight turned the light peach walls to pomegranate, and I felt like I was inside the fruit. If we stop, we see everything so clearly.
I was waiting for Saturday, when Rudy would drive up in the white van, filled with tools and purchases he’d made over the last three years. He was officially coming home to stay. He’d completed the New Mexico Contractors License Exam and was going to start renovating adobe homes and gardens and spend his days in the place he loved as much as San Francisco.
It might have been a Carole Lombard movie, that got me untangled from the
Gummy bears and Kleenex, and I went out to dinner Friday night with the gal who introduced the Bird to Rudy. Sipping wine with faces I like, and food that nourishes brought back a flash of light to me, and I was animatedlike an old person right before they die. You ever see that?
Rudy’s room was tided: new soap, washed towels, the closet rearranged so he was able to unpack all his belongings. I was sure there would be a new rattlesnake head.
“I have a present for you.” he said on arrival.
He brought out an Emporio Armani garment bag, his only brand of clothing, and out came a pair of black silk balloon pants.
” Thought they’d be good for the Cuban Carnival party.”
I fancied them, hugged him, and then he scampered in a hundred directions, as he does, and I returned to myself. Rudy was home. To be continued.