Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dust of the Earth, chapter 18

Welcome to the continuing serialized version of Phantom Limbs' bassist Jim Parks' novel, Dust Of The Earth, a Tucson story about Tucson history, mystery, other worlds, desert mojo, forbidden love, and the fledgling Tucson music scene... (c) by Jim Parks, reprinted with permission

We left off last time with Ana Socorro and her family (along with our narrator) enjoying some time at Pena Blanca Lake... 

Chapter 18

    The weather was clear, the temperature warm but with cool breezes - your typical idyllic autumn day in southeastern Arizona. Don Pedro peered about with his binoculars, occasionally bursting forth with an "Oh my!" or an "Ahh" as he identified one bird after another, jotting each down in a small notepad. He pulled out a spare pair of binoculars from his knapsack and offered them to me, guiding me to the seemingly dull brown or grey avian forms in the foliage, which through the binoculars became distinctly more colorful. Striking even from a distance was the Vermillion Flycatcher. Hawks and vultures circled overhead, but the highlight of the day was the observation of a bald eagle, something of a rarity in the region.

    At one point, I asked, "What is that black bird with the red patch on the wing called?"

    "Red-winged blackbird," Don Pedro replied.

    Not long after, I asked, "What is the black bird with the yellow head called?"

    "Yellow-headed blackbird."

    "Is it always going to be this easy, Don Pedro?"

    He chuckled and continued to scan the shoreline.

    While Don Pedro and I searched the heavens and earth, Ehmet hunted the waters with an old Zebco spin-cast reel and fiberglass rod  - humble tackle, but in the hands of the big Indian, deadly. He sank little red worms and caught bluegill and red-eared sunfish, most thrown back but a few large enough to keep and fry later. He sent weighted night crawlers to the deeps and caught largemouth bass, some big enough to fight for several minutes. Nearby, A.C. and Tia Elena cheered Ehmet as he reeled the lunkers in, applauding as he pulled the fish out of water and displayed it for all to see. Don Pedro took an old German folding camera out of his knapsack and snapped Ehmet as he posed with his catch. It was the closest I ever saw to a smile on Ehmet's face.
    Mid-afternoon the breezes subsided and the sun beat down. The fish stopped biting and the birds moved to cool hidden recesses in the foliage. Ehmet sat and sharpened his fillet knife while Don Pedro nodded off. I began to feel overly warm and took off my shirt. In the paddleboat, Tia Elena reclined in her seat with her sun hat shielding her face. Ana Socorro looked over at me, smiled and removed her shirt, revealing a bikini top. I removed my shoes and stood up, wearing only my jeans. I pointed to the water and cocked an eyebrow. A. C. took her sneakers off, removed her pants and stood up.

    Her two-piece suit was modest but couldn't hide her voluptuousness - this was not a skinny girl. In my memories of that moment, I often confuse a photograph I have seen of Sophia Loren with A.C. standing there in her bikini. Tia Elena looked up and said something sharply in Spanish, but A.C. executed a graceful dive into the water. I leaped in after her.

    Forgetting the propriety of this family, I exclaimed, "Fuck, it's cold!" A. C. laughed and agreed. We swam away from the two boats, with Tia Elena yelling at Ana Socorro. A.C. and I treaded water close to each other and looked at each other, smiling.

    Finally, Don Pedro called out to us, "Mijo, unless you want me to send Ehmet into the water after you, I suggest you return to the boat."

    I looked at Don Pedro and saw that he was amused, but I thought it best to comply. I turned back to Ana Socorro and saw that she was no longer smiling. She kissed her forefinger and pressed it to my lips -- then swam back to her boat.

To Be Continued....

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