Red walls, the hue of Valentine hearts, no, more saturated red, the color of blood, the old barn marks a turn in my path from school to home.
“Hurry Billy or you’ll be late for school.” Ma smiles and smooths her white apron. Beth is monogrammed above the right pocket. She hands me a lunch bucket decorated with Donald Duck. “I’m proud of you. A third-grader, able to walk to school alone. Come right home after school.” She points to a Milwaukee Journal calendar. Friday, September 7, 1956, is circled in red. “Today is papa’s birthday. We’ll have an early supper. Follow the road to school. Don’t walk through the field past the old barn. It’s too dangerous.” Ma pats my shoulder and nudges me out the door.
End of winter and early spring were the best times to find pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Coins of these denominations, and sometimes in my childhood, half-dollars, would poke their formerly shiny faces, dulled by salt and deicers, from disappearing snow at the curb of city streets. When crocus appeared in mother’s garden in March, pennies bloomed on Main Street.
Scene One – HELP – Merrimac, Wisconsin, yesterday.
“Pull your car into the empty space next to the green Ford.” He waves his sun-tanned arm to the left of my Oldsmobile Delta 88 toward the last open space on the car ferry.
I drive my Olds over the ramp, onto the ferry, and await departure.
He shakes his head and walks to my car door. “Nope, please stay in your car. Leave the car in neutral and we will line you up correctly. My name is Bill.” He offers his hand.
Scene One – PERSISTENT – Pine View Lodge, Hayward, Wisconsin, July 1964
“Bobby, I’m glad you showed up.” Sally’s eyes meet mine. “You are persistent, I’ll say. I wish Butch had paid more attention to me.”
“Ah–” I lift my gaze to Sally’s. “I mean, when you didn’t call back last month, I decided to drive up. Fishing season is over, but I wanted to see if I could find you at the lodge.”
“So, you did.” She sips her coffee. “I owe you an apology for not answering your calls. I wasn’t ready to talk with anyone. Butch had just left me–”
I’ve always been an average golfer. As a teenager I learned the game with my father’s hand-me-down clubs. Dad decided to get some left-handed sticks, as he called them, so he gifted me his right-handed, Ben Hogan woods and Sammy Snead irons. A southpaw in most areas of his life, he may have thought that right-handed golf clubs were the reason for his poor performance on the links.
About the Author
I write personal essays, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and self-development articles from my home in Madison, Wisconsin.