We were sitting on the outside balcony of a very posh country club, and lightning was rolling across the sky at exact intervals. The flashes were timed by the universe to amuse us. To scare us with the regularity of the timing contrasted with the perfect individuality of the bursts themselves. What was that promise that you made?
We were on the third floor and behind us, just through those large glass doors, was the enormous bar; the only bar within 100 miles of this dry county in Northern Alabama. Tommy's dad was the manager of this country club in the middle of nowhere, and we owned the place. We owned the championship course that lay out underneath our view like a personal pathway to the heavens. We owned the liquor in the bar behind us. We owned the jukebox, which was turned up to twelve to match the time of the night. We owned the Doors and Jim Morrison who was asking us both to "Touch him." I might have obliged, but I could tell that he'd be dead soon. Call me psychic. I never liked touching dead things.
Earlier that night, we'd been out on the golf course chasing fireflies. There had been some more folks with us, and all of us had been peaking on the tabs around nine, when it gets dark in the South in the summer. One par 3 had a steep uphill approach, and we'd spent some time lying on our sides and rolling down that steep hill. You have to tuck your arms tight by your side and trust gravity when you do this. Don't try to stop yourself. You can't stop. You're speeding up to slow down, anyway; so what's the use?
Around 11:00, Tommy told the others that they had to leave. I don't know why I always seemed to be invited into these little secret societies. Maybe I'm giving off some sort of tangential vibe which I can't control. Tommy was giving me that same vibe. He was not a popular kid, but he was most assuredly not a nerd or a geek or a hood or a jock or . . . what the hell was he, anyway? His little brother was a horn-rimmed glasses-wearing classical guitar-playing certified geek. His mom was a redhead who fluttered out the door Lucille Ballish every time I came over. His dad was never seen, but his dad was from a very prestigious family in that little town, and I guess that's why they'd made him the manager of this new country club out in the new haven for the rich folks. It was so, so far out in the sticks, though. It'd never fly, would it?
That's what I was thinking when it was just Tommy and me sitting there on that third floor balcony. We had sat at the bar for a while and tried to decide what to drink as the night wound down. The ceilings were high and the fireplace was deep. The decor was Club Room, for sure. So, of course, we chose Brandy in the big snifter glasses. I didn't like the taste that much, but you by God cannot argue with that mystique. We also lit up a couple of large cigars. Young men -- very young men -- in ownership of life itself. Can't you see that I am not afraid?
After a couple of snifters, we went out onto the balcony and reclined. As if on some sort of heavenly cue, the lightning began. You know that sort of lightning where there is no real threat of rain nor any loud thunder? How many miles away was this storm? Far beyond us to say. We were paralyzed by the majesty of it. Neither of us could say a word. We just sat there and felt the humid, cool air float over us, while we tried to act like this was something that happened every day.
I'm gonna love that memory 'til the stars fall from the sky. For you and I.