The breeze distinguished him. Carl was framed by the curb feelers of movement. A picture of man walking under white sky, while the colors of wind whistling between the caverns of space inside his ear defined nothing. The urban landscape buzzed with the howl of pot holes swallowing tire tread when lights barely illuminated their purpose. This day of the breeze was yesterday.
Carl felt his legs must be heavy. Each step a weighty endeavor, his insides would thwump, while joints mustered an arthritic whimper. The anxiety came often, but nothing a brief stand still, an aspirin, or glass of agua couldn't squelch. Carl would remind himself that he was only 28 years old and that the stench of impending death was tolerable. Despite the cures and reminders, Carl still had to lighten his legs. He took an enormous mid-shaking step. An awkward hokie pokie move. Then, he pressed his hips out and walked bowlegged before he adopted a regular gait. He watched his steps until he noticed one of his feet pigeon toed and he thought about something else.
Feeling small of life, he tried to reach the bubble of time above, but was too short. Contemplating the determinist fate awaiting his being, he continued to take steps despite the outcome. If the sky was periwinkle and the sun was breaking, things might be different. The means of becoming different were the same just the same while different remained a step away. A step was a step after all.
She sat so close, looking bored and smoking. Two round tables separated their bodies. Slight glimpses intertwined like a spider web and she smiled behind veils. It went on like this for months. She was amazed by his thoughtfulness. Later, she was astonished to discover the thoughtfulness churn into loving humor. Heather felt his devotion to haphazard habit. She admired the angst prone adolescent nature his sensitive Pisces soul composed.
When they were married, he was steady. He worked a job typing keys then came home to a loving wife and Labrador. He had tools and friends. She drank wine and laughed. Their sweetest embraces involved foreheads and elbows. Sometimes, when Carl took a nap, Heather would lie on top of him. Carl felt the pressure and her delicate arms reach under his in a full nelson. Face pressed to pillow, he was never more secure.
Six years later, after the Chemo, after she died, he took the boy for coffee. Nothing beat that four year old on a Saturday morning. Carl tried to teach the kid how to get a free paper by punching the button on the machine while simultaneously pulling the handle. This lesson was an amusement from his childhood on the West Side. Retrieving his paper with a smile, Carl looked down toward his son and saw the boy leaning into the wind. His arms were out and the hood of his navy blue windbreaker flapped to his shoulders. The boy had his eyes closed and was smiling, wincing as his brown strands of hair pasted to his little head. Carl squated down and pulled the hood over the bean, he tugged the stings taught and tied them in a bow. The wrinkles from the hood left a lookout hole where Cole's eyes and nose remained. He laughed and looked at his father with amusement.
In the coffee shop, Carl read the paper while Cole sat patiently. It was a pleather booth with shiny Formica table top and chrome finish. Cole ran his tiny fingers along the edge and played with an action figure in his lap. Just two guys hanging out with the strongest bond ever.
When a woman from work poked her head around the corner, Carl smiled. Their eyes met and she held up her index finger and disappeared behind the alcove.
"Wanna get trottin'?" Carl asked the boy.
Cole slipped into his jacket and stood at attention near the corner of the booth, ready to be zipped and tied. Carl was scooting across the booth when Amy from work returned. She was standing over Cole and her leather jacket brushed his head. He looked directly up, and she directly down.
She said, "Hi".
He replied, "Hi"
Amy looked at Cole and shared another greeting
She sat down and pulled some lipstick out of her purse and turned the base so a hefty glob of brick protruded from the end. the boy was spinning in circles.
She unfolded a napkin and spanked the spot next to her on the booth.
"Jump up here." She giggled, looking into his young eyes.
He jumped up and she placed the napkin carefully on the table and handed the lipstick
to him. His small hand grasped the plastic base and furrowed brows as he looked at Carl curiously.
"Draw me a picture, Ok?" She asked.
He nodded. Amy looked at Carl and they talked. Amy let out coy glares and brushed her hair behind her ear. Carl scratched his receding hair line and tapped his fingers on the table like he was playing a guitar. She pulled a cigarette from her purse and tucked it between her teeth. She let the smoke dangle there until she noticed Cole looking at her; she looked at him, then Carl, and shrugged her shoulders. He did the same back and nodded approval. Other people were smoking, it was part of the atmosphere.
They talked while Cole smeared lumps of lipstick on napkin canvas and at some point she put his hand on Carl's knee under the table.
When she admired Cole's drawing and pushed him out of the booth to stand and say good bye, Carl choked on the urge to utter a proposal. Instead, Amy shook Cole's hand and bid farewell, tucking the lipstick picture with admiration into her purse.
"See you on Monday." She said walking away. Carl looked up and she looked back once more.
Zipping and tying up the boy he asked,
"What do you think about that lady?
The boy looked into Carl like a breeze on a heavy day and replied,
"She smells like Summer."