The skinny black man sat in his tumbledown chair and stretched his legs out long and long across the patio there. He was wearing a tattered straw hat that had a bright red and frayed ribbon laying droopily around the brim; it might have been attached at some point in its various pasts, the ribbon, but today it was laying loose against the hat’s crown with its thrice-tied knot to keep it all together with itself. A hot breeze stirred through the patio columns and caused the screen door to complain with a creaky voice at having to move so when it was content not to at this time of an afternoon and summer day.
“I tol’ you and your partner the other day that I don’ know nothin’ ’bout no Peaches,” he said from below his hat brim. His mouth moved like he was holding pebbles inside his cheeks, keeping his lips all in a pucker and moving still; I couldn’t see his teeth, as they were hiding behind his fleshy and purple lips, but I knew from a young lady’s description, that he was missing top and bottom twins on the left side of his mouth. He had caught a tire iron or a bottle there during a mid-alley brawl on a last-July evening; said people started calling him “Kissy” after that because of the way he always pursed his lips when talking so nobody could see the remnant and damaged teeth within.
- I never said anything about Peaches, Kissy; I never told you who sent me looking for you; I just said I talked with someone….
“Well, I still don’ know nothin’ about her; ain’t seen her none, leastways not in a long time, not this summer anyways.”
- Well that’s ok, really, we don’t need to talk about her. We just need to get you to the clinic and take care of those spots on your hands, that’s all. You need some medicine, Kissy.
“Yeah, you tol’ me about that before, you and that other Lionel boy from your office, but I’m ok; Kissy’ll be jus’ fine. These spots come and gone once before and I ‘spect they’ll do the same again, so you can go on now, Doctor Scott, don’ try and reason with me none either, just leave me set here of an afternoon, cuz it’s too hot to move and I’m waiting on my check besides. So go on now…and if you’ll ‘scuse me, I’m goin’ to have myself a little nap….”
There is a green house on the corner between here and somewhere else that appears to be a remnant from an earlier time; it is not alone, though, as its neighbors are similarly styled and worn. This house is of a faded green and has golden frames around the windows and doors and bears the same color along the roof trim and on its decorative and side-ways awning. The colors, faded and stark as they are, remind me of certain football uniforms from a high-school in my past. The boys who wore them were fast and young and full of new life and the house seems staid and tired, like a left-over, as I said, from an earlier time.
Around the front and side of the green house is a green and slatted fence, vertical boards of like hue and wear that hold a gate in their center grasp, a gate that is often left open to swing with the breeze or storm of a particular afternoon. I have passed this house and yard and fence innumerable times over the past year and then, and have only seen as occupant of the property, an oldish-looking gray tabby cat. I have seen this cat some several times, but have only seen him resting in the deep grass near a grated basement window. It was long grass, and green, too, with a richness that might shame the green of the house if an old coat of paint could feel such a thing. Anyway, the tabby usually lay there in the late morning or early afternoon sun with his eyes closed and his ears pivoting or twitching at the sounds of my passing on the nearby sidewalk.
It has been some while since I’ve seen the cat, though I walk or pass by the green house still frequently. I have not seen him there by the basement window with the gold and faded window arch of squared or molded brick; I’ve not seen him walking past the opened gate or curled up on the welcoming door mat as cats sometimes do, nor have I seen him sitting on the inside windowsill licking a paw or rubbing his ears as cats I have known have done.
When I passed that old green house today, on the corner between here and somewhere else, there was an old man with gray hair and green pants standing in the yard watering a skinny tree, a bush, or some other such living thing on this sometimey summer morning. He was a tall old man with long and wirey arms that were covered to a moderate degree with thinning old-man gray hair. As the tall old man stood there with the gray hair on his head and long arms, with a green hose in his hand, he was facing the sun with his eyes closed. I noticed that he didn’t open them as I passed, but slightly turned his head so he could better hear me in my passing.
I wonder if the tall old man used to be the oldish-looking gray tabby cat that I haven’t seen for so long…I do wonder so.
One of the pioneers from years gone-by named it “Cecret Lake,” probably because it was/is hidden way back at the end of a canyon and was little known to others…it is also referred to as “Secret Lake,” because…it probably feels more correct to do so. The lake is at the end of a trail that is only one mile in length and is surrounded by beautiful crags and dome-shaped mountain tops. On the other side of the hills around the lake are winter ski areas that receive more than 50 feet of snow each season. All of this is in the Albion Basin, located at the end of the road that leads through Little Cottonwood Canyon and takes you to the ski village of Alta…which is about 15 miles from Sandy…one of the neighboring cities/towns of Salt Lake City, Utah.