How much longer…?
Innocence smiles large as the boys rescue The Cube and ride their motorized scooter and roller-blades about the cul-de-sac, announcing to me in passing that they are on their way to destroy Megatron. Hood up on his sweatshirt jacket, my little one is on the roller-blades and moves awkwardly about, wheel-walking, not rolling, strange dance of plastic and clatter rushing off to secure some imagined zone.
The December sky is gray with fat and heavy clouds; an occasional breeze or gust of wind ripples the overgrown palm fronds and the garbage truck is making its Tuesday afternoon rounds in the neighborhood a couple streets in the distance. My grandson is on the motorized scooter and is wearing orange, star-shaped sunglasses to shield him against the glare of battle in his efforts to defeat the Transformers’ foes. My little one’s enthusiasm for the game is waning as a little trio of afternoon walkers enter and make a circuit of the cul-de-sac – a young mother-girl pushing her baby in a stroller as grandmother walks with her Down’s Syndrome old-man of a son in a straw cowboy hat who marvels at the Samoyed who is sticking his nose and white head through the hole at the bottom of the neighbor’s backyard wall. The cling-cling of the bicycle bell and the metallic crash as the bike crunches into the sidewalk and the garbage truck is still a few streets away.
“Can we go in now?”
“Don’t you want to play two-player on the Nintendo?” he says, as he kneels in the rocks and examines a pigeon feather, “Don’t you want to?”
“No, not really.”
“Dad, can we go inside in 15 minutes?”
He likes to orient things and events and know when they are going to happen. It helps him predict his world. He’s happier and less anxious that way. It settles his mind as the blanket of gray clouds part and roll into white balls with gray bottoms and a mini-bike just ripped and popped down the street behind us, throwing angry and irritating ripples and waves through the neighborhood air.
“How long has it been, Dad?”
I’m reading my new book, The Good Soldiers, between glances up and into the cul-de-sac and at the Transformer warrior-children and vehicles entering for deliveries or exiting for errands and whatnot.
“How much longer?”
“The post is loose on the scooter, Grandpa,” as he sucks the winter snot back into his nose and as the little one, his uncle, my youngest, talks to his dog through the side-yard gate….
“Hi Wilson,” sing-song, puppy-talk, baby-talk, talking-to-my-dog-through-the-gate-talk, sing-song “Hi buddy!”
Crunching gravel, walking scuffing, scraping, and dragging shoes through the landscaping stones. Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! A piece of gravel rock on the basketball pole. Ping! Ping! Ping!
“How much longer, Papa? How mucho longa?”
I’m on page 27…For now, no one touched the tape dispenser. Eventually, Cummings would begin swatting flies just hard enough to stun them, stick them to a piece of tape, and drop them alive into his trash can, which would be something that did have an effect. “I hate flies,” he would say each time he did this. What?
“Is it time yet?”
Did you park your bike and scoot it all the way over so Mom can open her door after she’s parked the car?
“Are you done Blakie? Hey!”
“Do you want to go in now?”
Cling! Cling! Cling! “Beep beep!”
“There’s a warning.”
“There’s a warning.”
What kind of warning?
“There was a rain drop.”
And the garbage truck is getting nearer and the little one is dragging his toes across the driveway and he’s got a Kool-aid moustache as he grins at me and says “What?”
“How many more minutes? Dad?” as he stands on the apache-red boulder rock in his one-legged pose with his arms raised like a stork’s wings…from The Karate Kid…and a game of chicken in the roadway as my grandson comes at him on the motorized scooter…and repeated “Yaaaaah!” screams and “How much longer?” asked with a Pink Panther French accent this time.
“Hhow mush longherre?”
“Ok……Blakie!! It’s time to go in!”
***This is a Favorite Re-post from December, 2009.
I so love this….
September 20, 2012 at 7:40 am
I’m glad you do, Lori Kim…one of my favorites. 🙂
September 21, 2012 at 6:35 am
I had such huge amounts of fun with my son when he was young. It’s hard to believe he’s already in the Air Force-it seems like it was just yesterday that he was asking me if it was true that snails could sing. Thanks for bringing back some great memories Scott.
September 20, 2012 at 9:09 am
You’re welcome for the memories, Allen…I’m glad they were so good for you. 🙂
September 21, 2012 at 6:36 am
Lovely piece of writing Scott.
September 20, 2012 at 9:15 am
Thank you, Chillbrook. 🙂
September 21, 2012 at 6:36 am
Lyrical. Beautifully paced. I so love your writing.
September 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Very touching words, Karen…thank you…truly.
September 21, 2012 at 6:37 am
This is what makes your blog special Scott; and the photos, and going with you down the trail…. there is a lot of magic here.
September 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Thank you, dear John…such precious words….
September 21, 2012 at 6:39 am
Very vivid writing, Scott. Great dialog. Captivating pace. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. Big smiles. 🙂
September 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm
Thank you, Melanie…for all of that…especially the big smiles. 🙂
September 21, 2012 at 6:40 am
Such a nice slice of your life. Thanks for bringing it forward. 🙂 All the sound effects were fun!
September 21, 2012 at 1:55 am
You are welcome, Miss Gunta…I’m glad you enjoyed it…maybe it’s from having just read it again two or three times, but the scene is still very vivid in my memory…tiny echoes weighing against the breeze of the intervening years….
September 21, 2012 at 6:43 am
Ah, a universal moment so well-written, Scott. There is something bittersweet in the realization that this scene is a fragment of life plucked from the onslaught of time. I like this very much since it makes an effort to intervene in the unrelenting fragmentation of life by interjecting a moment of reflection. This is what it means to “pause” along the way in order to collect ourselves and return to who we are. Thank you for reposting this.
September 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm
You captured it very well, George…definitely one of those pauses…and I love those words…”in order to collect ourselves and return to who we are.” Very nice…spoken like you know what you’re talking about…in your core. Thank you, too. 🙂
September 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm