Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bookfield, Betrayal - Part 1

It had been a long hot day on the book field. It was already past nine and I was only about half way home from selling. I was about all in, and lifting my legs felt like there were sacks of sand tied on my thighs with every up cycle of the pedals. It was already dark and I had so far to go yet. All of the sudden it hit me that I had not had any life for myself all summer. Every moment of every day was for Parchment. I had no personal life. I was lonely, really lonely. I felt like all of the fight and spirit in me was drained away by the events of the summer, and not enough rest.

I knew that up ahead was a long down hill of maybe a mile or so. At least I would be able to cease pedaling and maintain a good speed down the hill. I crested the hill and set the bike’s front wheel pointing straight down the white line between the shoulder and the lane. There were no cars to be seen. My head felt heavy and I put my hands on the handle bar where the down tube is attached and my elbows on the ends of the handle bars. This supported my tired back better. Still my head felt heavy. I just wanted to rest it on my hands, and eventually I gave in to my fatigue. My forehead rested on my hands, and I looked straight down at my front wheel turning over again and again on that white line. A wave of sleepiness came over me and I shook the bike a little to keep myself alert. The bike picked up speed going down that steady hill, and I didn’t need to pedal. It was quite a ways to the bottom yet.

I shut my eyes for a moment and opened them. My wheel was still right on the white line. The cover of my lids on my eyes had felt so wonderful. Just that short moment seemed so restful. I closed my eyes again, and listened to my wheels humming over the asphalt. I heard crickets. I opened my eyes again. There was the white line; I was still on it. My bike rode on straight and true. My eyes closed again, and I heard nothing. All was black. All was night. I felt free.

I sensed a slight bumpiness under my forehead, and groggily lifted my head from my hands. My eyes opened. The front wheel of the bike was on the gravel shoulder of the road. I fought with the handle bars, pushing the wheel from the gravel back to the road. I was at the bottom of the hill. I had slept just about the whole way down. Some adrenaline started to flow into me as I realized that I easily could have crashed the bike. I was glad to be alive and unharmed and at least regained my focus on these as immediate life goals.

I looked up the road. A ranch style house with a long front porch was ahead. The porch was lit, and the folks were out there talking. I didn’t seem to remember selling at that house. I was feeling a bit too tired to make a demonstration, but this looked like a perfect opportunity. I steered my bike up the driveway that slanted conveniently from the road like a highway ramp. A family was on the porch. There was a man and a woman, and their three kids. The kids seemed excited and happy about something. I thought that maybe it was someone’s birthday. They looked like very nice people. I held the bike and spoke to the family from where I stood, on the ground in front of their porch. I gave my approach and smiled at them.

The man said, “Look, we’re really not interested in anything that you are selling, but it’s been a long hot day and I bet you’d just as soon have some of this fresh, homemade peach ice cream we’re having?”

Fresh peach ice cream sounded like just the restorative that I needed. I threw down my bike and said, “You’re exactly right, Mr. Jones. I would really appreciate some homemade ice cream, if it was no trouble.” Then to make sure it would happen, I made a truthful statement. “I’ve never had homemade ice cream.”

“Well my goodness”, said Mrs. Jones. “You come right up here and we’ll make you a bowl.” I joined them on the porch, sitting on a pillowed metal tube chair offered by one of the kids.

“Mom, there isn’t anymore ice cream. Jenny and I got the last bowls.” said a boy of about ten who had given his chair to me.

“Not anymore, that can’t be right.”

Jenny came forward. “She can have my bowl, Mom.”

“I just couldn’t take your ice cream away from you honey.” I said. “Although, it is awfully nice of you to offer. It’s pleasant enough if I could just rest here a moment and enjoy your company.” This was also the truth. I was dog tired, and the surroundings were pleasant and comfortable.

“No, I insist that you have my bowl of ice cream.” Jenny said. “We make it all the time in the summer, and you’ve never had any. Please take it.”

“I can’t thank you enough.” I said. I was genuinely touched by Jenny’s maturity and giving nature. The first bite of ice cream transcended my expectations. Not only was it the creamiest ice cream I had ever had, the taste of fresh cream laced with the intoxicating bouquet of fresh juicy peaches was an unbelievable delight. This was not just a bowl of ice cream, it was a treasure. I swore that I would never forget not just the taste, but the feeling of eating pure love, the love of this family who hand cranked that ice cream until perfection, and offered it to me, a complete stranger there to sell them books. Pure love tasted every bit as good as one might imagine. If there is a heaven, that’s what they serve there.

The family laughed good naturedly at my reaction to their ice cream. I was overwhelmed, and tried to express it to them. It didn’t seem to me that I could do it justice. But, Jenny seemed pleased enough.

I did not want to leave their house, but now it was really getting late. I had to get home. The ice cream made me feel strong enough to ride again, and if I kept a good pace, perhaps I could be home in thirty minutes or so. I thanked the family again, and went off into the dark night quietly on my spinning wheels.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

love the new format, sis!

also, i can't wait for more of bookfield to unfold!

love,
evie

David said...

Goodness, where is this heading?

Sue said...

New format is easier on my eyes.

Mmmm. Bookfield is heating up again kids! Stay tuned!

em said...

ok, so when is the next bookfield post?

sis

Tony said...

Ain't Southerners good people?...although the title scares me a little. Hopefully I'll still be proud to be a Southerner after the conclusion.

Tony said...

PS. I like the new look, too. Feels more "Sue"...although for some reason you always make me think of wildflowers.

Doug said...

Just like a glass of cold lemonade after runnin' a marathon. That ice cream was well deserved. Shoulda asked 'em how to make it!!!

Sue said...

em - the next Bookfield post is Thursday

Tony - all Southerners were extremely hospitable to me. Rest assured, one did not betray me. Glad you like the new format. You mean like black eyed susans, Tony?

Doug - Yeah, I felt I did deserve that ice cream and since then I have made some myself.