Homecoming

 

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Idolatry – Pt. 3

Bombarded by twin fronts of fertilizer and foliage, I move like the tranquil eye of a storm towards the greenhouse at the rear of the store.

I push a hand truck through aisles of displaced flora until the downy blue clusters of an Adriatic Ageratum beckon a closer look.  Satisfied, I place two of the bushes onto the cart and turn to make my way back to the registers.

That’s when I got my first look at him.

Resting on a shelf of gardening implements at eye-level, a leonine chimera, sleek and stoic like the iconic statuary adorning Notre Dame Cathedral, he elicited a silent gasp that I can’t explain as I ran a finger across his stony features.  It was as though the proprietors knew that to place him alongside the adorably ugly and squat little trolls out front would debase his aura of mischievous yet debonair calm so they hid him back here among the flowering plants where a more discerning eye would be likely to find him.

My heart quickened as I waited for my receipt.  I felt like I was pulling a heist and the cashier’s nonchalant manner was starting to piss me off.  When she finally handed me the curled slip of register tape, I immediately scratched out the cost of the statue in a symbolic gesture.  If Dolores wants to reimburse me for the plants, that’s cool, but this seductive little fellow is mine all mine.

I loaded up the hatchback for a smooth getaway.

From the curb I can see Dan left a note on the front door.  If I don’t read it, I can’t be accused of ignoring whatever entreaties for my attention it may contain, so in one fluid motion I rip it down, crumple it in my fist and chuck it over my shoulder into the hydrangea hedge at the end of the driveway.

I leave the plants in the car and walk inside with the gargoyle, passing through the house to the back door where I perform a cursory scan of the fenced-in landscape.  Just there – one eye positioned to gaze peripherally inside through the patio doors, the other trained on the lush green sea of grass beyond the tiny courtyard.  I situate its base a half inch into the small dirt patch bordering the concrete, take a step back and smile at the subtly magical transformation my new friend has wrought upon this previously uninspiring chunk of South Jersey real estate.  I remember the Ageratum in the car and trudge back out to finish the chore.

My hangover is finally starting to lift so I make myself a guacachito and wolf it down on the sofa, plate balanced precariously across my knees while admiring the exquisite curvature of his arched and winged torso through the door.  I try not to overthink the sudden outbreak of goose flesh on my arms, tiny blonde hairs standing at attention as electricity races up my spine and my face goes flush.

The unmistakable physiology of a woman in love.

I wonder if this odd rush of feelings is anticipatory.   After all, the only thing that would inspire me to discard of a reliable fuck buddy like Dan with such uncharacteristic insouciance is a waxing desire to fall in love – to jump headlong into all-encompassing crazy brain-scrambling soul-fucking infatuation.

It had been a long time and I’d hardened myself considerably in the interim.  I sometimes worry that I’ve become too transparent to bewitch a beautiful unsuspecting boy with my stale array of coarse charms.  Before dialing Melinda to confirm that we were still on to meet at the Stone Pony for tonight’s Southside Johnny show, I glanced outside and thought I saw a subtle smile of approval play across his ceramic countenance.  It was like he knew – my unspoken desires, my secret vulnerabilities and maybe even my fate.

It all seemed so innocent then.  Even so, I blamed it on the residual effects of last night’s pharmacological feast and resolved to kick Molly to the curb along with Dan – cold turkey for two guilty pleasures whose times had long passed.

30 thoughts on “Homecoming

  1. Great visualizations. Moves quickly. Identified with the slow clerk and the feeling of getting away with a subterfuge.

    Don’t know that a chimera works there – maybe a grotesque? (I guess I’m a prig when it comes to Greek monsters.)

    > kick Molly to the curb — is that an euphemism for quitting the bottle?

    If The Grinch was a gargoyle — that would be the one. A disturbing image.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Molly is a euphemism for Ecstasy (something I’m only hip to because of my nieces). Yeah, chimera is technically accurate but grotesque would have made that sentence sound better, I agree. However, I ended the last installment with a sentence containing the word grotesque, so I had to go with a reasonable substitute.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it fits most people’s understanding. Ignore my fixation. I’ve spent some recent time working in the Greek monster realm – The Gribble’s Eye (The gribble was a Greek monster).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Chimera works here. Although its first definition is a Greek myth (a mixed monster, precisely as AM describes), it also means “a horrible or unreal creature of the imagination; a vain or idle fancy.” Which, if I’m reading this story correctly, is exactly what this thing is to our protagonist; that and much, much more. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! But remember the words of Mr. Tzu (or is it Mr. Lao?): “In not doing, everything will be done”. So it’s not a matter of being inert (though there’s nothing wrong with that, either) but of subtracting the ego-identified self from the activity. Incidentally, that’s why I’ve taken a recent turn towards fiction and songs posted without comment while weaning myself off of philosophical essays and political rants and worst of all, posts that are about some aspect of me or my life. Nobody needs to read that shit anymore.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hmmmm. I like your new direction but I’ll miss your philosophical essays. I’ll attempt to write another blog post while leaving my ego at the front door. We’ll see what happens. (Either Mr Tzu or Mr Lao would be correct, as he wouldn’t care.)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. You are one of the rare ones who is interested in such esoteric subjects. But when I post one of those, there are usually a handful of people who even look at it, compared to well over 100 very enthusiastic readers if Mer guest posts something about her douche bag ex. She gives the people what they want. For better or worse, I am incapable of doing so.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Curious. No offense to Mer, but I thought her posts were just more of the same pity party stuff, just in a totally different class than your writing. Interesting to know she has a lot of readers. Maybe I’ll cause Akira some pain and bump my readership! LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Different strokes, I s’pose. But my peculiar brand of strokes seem to appeal to only a very niche group of people who find philosophy and metaphysics fun and even that group has dwindled considerably over time. Mer’s certainly entitled to some self-pity right now, but it’s her humor that I find compliments my page the best because she’s funny but in a much different style than I employ.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thank you, Tom!! You make writing fun, my friend. You know I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut about such matters for very long. Though I may sometimes slip them into the fiction where they might be a bit obscured.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a confession: I’m not much of a fiction reader. In my reading list for this year, I have included just as many fiction as non-fiction books, mostly to mix it up, but partially because I can often breeze through fiction and play catch up to my goal. However, I have read two fiction books in a row and have stalled (well, slowed down) halfway through the second. I forgot that too much fiction makes Tommy yawn.

    But, this.

    The angles that you look at life, through fiction, reality, or ultra-reality, are mesmerizing. However you decide to proceed with Paul being Paul, just proceed. I never walk away the same once I see the world through your lens. 👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your prose is excellent here, the best yet. I’ve read the last two episodes, but I reserved comment until I saw where this was going. I’m not comfortable with the guy writing as woman thing, simply because it seems it would be outside the writer’s sphere. But, that said, the writing is very readable. There’s a greater conviction in the quality of your storytelling. So, that speaks to your choice of genre and my personal reservations. Good story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Pablo! I doubt I would have chosen to challenge myself to write as a woman (at least not for a piece as long as this one will end up being), but that was the challenge as presented to me by Tanya (theincurabledreamer.com) and part of the deal was that I would have to accept her challenge and all of its parameters, no matter what.

      Liked by 1 person

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