Scene 2- Anticipation Of The Trip (John)
Anticipation of the trip (John)
John is a handsome dark haired 45 year old male with a med thick mustache, medium build, 5’10” tall, but is generally considered short and stocky with short graying hair that he combs straight back, paying no attention to his gradually receding hairline.
Now, merely a go-getter in his own mind, he use to be able to get anything done physically. He could outwork three men doing his job in his hey-day. His body has been failing him for years. He gets aggravated and is worried because he cannot accomplish a lot of the simplest tasks that he used to be able to do without much effort or even thought. Although, there are still many small things he can accomplish, and makes every effort to do them.
Unemployed, he doesn’t collect unemployment, nor does he try to. He is the kind of person who doesn’t believe in claiming unemployment. He still feels there is hope for some type of financial success somehow someway, and continues to try to make something happen every day. He is currently trying to find a way to sell his homegrown culinary herbs, seeds and seasonings.
Su is his only love, and even when tempted he will remain loyal to her.
He is of French, Italian, Blackfeet descent, although he considers himself “just white, another rivet in the grand space shuttle of life”. He feels the indian part of him is connected to the earth somehow, but is intelligent enough to know you don’t need to be indian to be connected to the earth. He has scars on his face from mishaps in life, and a long scar down the middle of his forehead from a battle with skin cancer that gives him frequent headaches. He speaks with a southern dialect most of the time, but not all the time. He has tattoos from a different time in his life but does not sport them, sometimes he forgets they are even there. He is a smoker and partaker. He used to have a love affair with knives. Where he use to find solace in sharpening his knives, he now finds it boring. He wishes he had the proper tools to build his dream videogame. He means no harm.
John usually gets up, makes his coffee, smokes a few cigarettes, goes outside and works in the garden watering plants, transplanting them, evaluating their health and needs, picks weeds and ph balances and dechlorinates the water he uses for watering. He pulls dead pine needles from the hedge and uses them for mulch and soil amendment.
He’ll then move inside, out of the sun, doing searches online for information pertaining to what he is doing that day, such as plant flowering times, best seed cultivation and storage practices, herb and spice recipes and their uses.
He spends much time trying to figure out a way to make money from his gardening, as it is something he can still do, but isn’t having any luck in his endeavor.
He does any miscellaneous house duties that need to be done, such as washing dishes and cooking. He’ll repair a broken door here, a leaky toilet there, or fix a sink when need be. He also repairs the torn screens on the windows with whatever is available around the house, usually black nylon thread, things of that nature.
He spends a lot of time watching cooking shows, trying to cook the foods he has Ingredients for from the show. He uses other ingredients when he doesn’t have what is being called for. The results are less than spectacular, although they do turn out fairly appetizing.
He usually works on the book he is trying to write while he waits to greet Su when she comes home from work. They eat dinner, walk the dog, and spend some quality time together before they both retire to their own separate computers for some free time.
After Su goes to bed, if he doesn’t join her for some lovin’, he will spend time practicing playing the guitar, and continuing to search for ways to make money somehow. Sometimes he will watch movies or television to somewhat stay in touch with a world he feels is spinning out of control.
Every once in awhile, when he is at his wits end, he will spend time playing MMORPG games, It helps him to clear his mind and allows him to think in different ways. Sometimes he loses track of time, spending more time than he thought playing the games.
When he is finally exhausted he will lay out bedcovers and pillows on the carpeted floor of the living room to sleep. Su cannot sleep with his type of snoring. Sometimes he will sneak into bed just before she wakes up, it doesn’t seem bother her that way. He now has a bit of understanding as to why some older folks slept in separate beds when he was a child. He also knows that’s not the only reason they did.
He does this out of courtesy and love, but does not like it. Most of the time he will move to the bed when Su gets up. They call this the “Shift change”.
Today is an exciting day, the anticipation of spending time on Sanibel is driving him crazy also. He wishes they could leave tonight. And is certain Su feels the same.
The alarm goes off at 11:30 a.m. with an annoying “aaank aaank aaank aaank”. John shuts it off immediately and makes his way to the bathroom. He takes a quick shower using Su’s liquid shower soap and what he calls a “Poofy scrubby thingy“, instead of using his usual bar of soap and wash cloth.
Stepping out of the shower and drying off quickly, he puts on his dark blue cotton boxer shorts, the kind that are like regular underwear but with longer legs, not the typical polyester baggy bottom boxer shorts with the pee hole slit in them, the kind that are like normal cotton briefs, then reaches beneath the counter for Su’s shaving cream. He uses her shaving cream to save money and it says “For sensitive skin”. With shaving cream can in hand he looks into the mirror at his 23 day, graying beard, pushes the stray hairs down on his mustache to keep them from tickling his nose. He keeps a thick mustache because Su likes it that way.
He brushes his thinning hair straight back and decides not to trim the hair around the top of his ears, nor shave. Something Su doesn’t like, she likes it when he’s clean shaven. She says it’s because she can see his dimples. He’ll shave for the trip later tonight, to make Su feel good, and himself, he doesn’t like to shave because it irritates his skin, causing a rash, but when he does, it feels good to him.
He gets dressed in jeans that are to long and folds up the cuffs. He bought them himself and over calculated the length needed for clearing his boots. He pulls a greenish gray t-shirt with a screen-print of a Bass on the back from a hanger in the closet and throws it on, tucking it in. Sitting on the king sized bed, he gives Lucky a scratch on the head, ties up his camouflage colored antivenom boots, then stands up straightening his back, giving it a stretch to loosen it a bit. He stomps his feet a couple of times to situate his feet in the boots. “Ok, let’s see what they have to say”.
Pouring himself a cup of coffee, left over from Su’s morning routine, he places the Sanibel Island coffee mug in the microwave. Waiting for it to warm up, John fills Lucky’s water bowl and bends over placing the dish on the floor while supporting his hip with his hand so it doesn’t try to twist out of place on him. He grabs his fishing pole out of the closet, grabs what he calls a “fag bag“, a small fanny pack that has very specific, well chosen fishing gear in it, and heads out to go to the mailboxes half way around the lake.
Stepping onto the walkway, he lights a cigarette, inspecting the sunflowers he is growing for Su. They are about 10 feet tall, some of them are bent over at the tops. He pulls one of the bent over flower heads towards him by a leaf, carefully digs into the flower head with his fingers for a seed. Grasping his shoulder in pain he lets go and the flower snaps back in place absorbing the morning sun that is barely shining over the roof top. He tries again, this time pushing through the pain, grabbing the plant by the thick hairy stem and pulls a few seeds out of the large flower head. Two shells are thin, dimply and empty, the other has a seed in it that is about half the size of the shell. “Nope, not ready yet”. He lets go of the plant, it bounces back into position. John eats the small seed, and tosses the empty shells onto the rich soil beneath the plants which he spends a lot of time making that way. Several other sunflowers he planted at the same time are still fully erect and open, they are east locked, trying to absorb the morning sun against the deep blue sky with their large bright orange-ish yellow leaves surrounding a green and yellow center.
He slowly and carefully makes his way between the quadplex homes, across their unit’s parking lot, through another set of quadplexes, along the landscaped cedar stained privacy fences and sidewalks to the road that runs in a mile long circle around the lake that is lined with Pine, oak, palm, maple and banyan trees. More quadplex homes and townhouses line either side of the road. No woodpeckers this mornin’.
Some of the trees are dotted with woodpecker holes all the way around and up and down the trees. He always looks for the tell-tell sign of an Ivory billed woodpecker by looking for a large rounded nest hole high up in the tree, but has never found one. He often listens for the double knock of the Ivory billed woodpecker, but has not heard it. One time he used a recording of the Ivory billed woodpecker in hopes of attracting them to the area so he could get a photo of them, but nothing ever came of his two week attempt. That he knows of.
Slowly making his way across the road to a cement light post he calls “The sniffing post“, resting for a second. He calls it that because most of the dogs in the neighborhood pee on it like a fire hydrant while on their walks with their owners. Lucky will stop and sniff it until his nose becomes drippy and runny, as if it were some kind of drug to him. Lucky never lifts his own leg to pee on it. Su and he think it’s because when the vets at the rescue shelter neutered him as a puppy, they may have done it to early and nicked something accidently, but aren’t sure. One time it looked like he was going to, and they both watched in anticipation, but he didn’t, he just moved to the other side of the pole and kept sniffing it on that side.
John makes his way to the roof covered community mailboxes and checks the mail. The key sticks, and makes it hard to open the aluminum door on the mailbox. He twists left and right, pushes and pulls the key and then with a little squeak it opens. He spots the letter he was looking forward to. A letter from Disability.
He feels it, it’s thinner than he thought it would be, he opens it quickly. He reads that he has been turned down due to his claims, that instead of going on disability he should resort to light duty work.
John bows his head in disappointment, his hands start shaking… “I can barely stand on my own two feet. I can hardly grab a sunflower, how the hell am I suppose to do light duty!?… What the hell am I gonna do now! Aah!”
He gets dizzy and loses his balance a bit, grabbing the trash can to keep from falling down. Taking a breath he looks around and squeezes the letter into a ball of paper and shakes it with force. “GOD! , GOD DAMN IT!” he shouts loudly. Dogs in the area begin barking.
Distraught, instead of heading to the lake, which is only a couple of hundred feet away to fish for an earned dinner, like he had planned, he makes his way back home.
He throws his fishing rod into the corner of the sliding glass door inside the gate on the porch, causing sharp pains in his shoulder and back. He takes a seat in one of the patio chairs, staring at the rare culinary herbs he is growing and wonders what he is going to do now to make a living.
Many idea’s cross his mind, such as selling his herbs, There isn’t enough here to sell, and not enough room to grow enough to sell. He thinks about selling the seeds It’s possible , but can I sell enough all the time to make a living at it?… Probably not…..
He thinks Maybe selling planting containers at the local flea market, along with whatever plants we have at the moment? I can get the planters cheap and make a hundred percent profit off of ’em , that might work.
John slowly stands up to go inside to his computer. On the way he steps into the kitchen, opens the kitchen sink cupboard and pulls out an old mayonnaise jar that they use a treat jar that has paw prints painted on it, unscrews the lid and pulls out one of his homemade “Lucky Treats” dog biscuits, throwing it into the living room for Lucky to find.
Microwaving another cup of coffee, he heads to his computer and searches for plant container prices on the internet for several hours, and finds some he thinks he can sell. He saves the website to his favorites folder, puts the computer to sleep and decides not to tell Su about the bad news until after their trip to Sanibel. John shakes his head, “I’m not gonna hit her with this crap! Not just before we go. No friggin’ way man! No way.”
John reaches over from his desk, pulling his old unplugged electric guitar to him while still sitting in his computer chair and plays a couple of tunes he has been practicing for a long time. He doesn’t play for to long because holding the guitar gives him pains in his one shoulder over his heart and in his back. His physical issues frustrate him alot. They are like a demon no one else can see, or believe exists, that torment him every waking moment. But he refuses to give up trying.
Placing the guitar back against the foot stool he took it from, he heads into the dining room, and opens the old laptop computer, that has screen problems. The screen likes to blink in and out.. He thinks it’s an issue with the cable that connects the folding screen to the graphics card, it may be loose, he’s not sure and doesn’t want to open it up to look at it, in fear, that if he does he’ll be Opening a can of worms, He can get it to work by pressing hard at a certain location on the keyboard and it will be ok for awhile. He deals with it that way. He hopes it lasts long enough for him to write the story he’s been working on and get it into screenplay format.
He opens the laptop, presses the power button, and the screen looks likes it’s rolling. “Oh goddamn it, come on!”. He presses on the area of the keyboard that usually fixes the problem, and the screen becomes clear, presenting him with the login screen and logs in to the operating system.
John says to the computer, “I know you’re tired, but please, just hold out ’til the story is done.” The screen starts rolling gray and black again, like an old time reel to reel movie at the very end just before it separated from the film reel, and he gets scared, like he always does when this happens.
Pressing the spot on the keyboard again, the desktop comes up. John breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank you. Just don’t pull a Christine on me, ok?”.
John opens the word processor program, clicking on the file for the story he has been writing. He pulls a small ring of seashells with natural holes in them, that are tied together by hemp rope, from a bag of shells Su and he picked up from the beach in Sanibel the last time he, Su and Lucky were there, and begins gently rolling them and rubbing them together in his hand.
When he does it right, they remind him of being on Sanibel, by making a similar sound, of when the waves push shells onto the beach, where they clash with other shells. The sound relaxes him, and calms him. A pronounced serene feeling washes over him.
Sometimes when he does this, he imagines that he hears and sees the shells jingling from a Calusa indian’s waist, as they walk by him on the beach.
He sits and begins writing, trying to make progress on the story.
Lucky comes out of the hallway from the bedroom, grabs the biscuit from the living room floor and eats it with a noisy crunching and clacking sound, lays on his side then wipes his face on the carpet groaning and stretching for a minute. Lucky hears something and raises his head quickly looking in the direction of the sound, slowly gets up, and limps to the door staring at it and wagging his tail.
Su opens the door, and John sees she has the cart. John get’s up from the computer giving her her coming home kiss. Su smiles lovingly. With a slight smile, John says, “Hey baby, gimme that.” John pulls the cart with groceries into the house over the tall tiled door stoop, and rolls it toward the kitchen table, then starts to unload it onto the kitchen table.
Copyright © 2012 by John Edward Petersen