5. I’ve Been Watching the Peepers Grow Up

5. I’ve Been Watching the Peepers Grow Up

This time is such a strange, non-conforming time. It’s like being in a dust storm unable to see except in thin glimpses and even then through squinting, hurting eyes. It’s like being at a party alone, knowing no one, and not really understanding why some things are so funny and others are not, but still, oddly, enjoying it. I am enjoying it.

I’ve been watching the peepers grow up. They are little amphibians, frogs really, but not in the beginning. They start out as little tiny darts in the water, silently moving among the surface shimmers in the thin light of spring’s morning. At first you may think of them as if they were just ripples pushed across the smoothness of the tidal pond, but then you see them like a flock of little dots with tails trailing, all rushing away as though expelled from a dangerous moment. They leap forward from their cover and then hesitate as safety’s distance defines itself. They wait there, hovering in the water, near the bottom, some resting on the bottom. I had the feeling they were watching me. We moved back a few steps. This startled them but as the distance had lengthened, they stood still, on the edge of retreat or advance. We stepped back another step and they moved forward to regain their cover, but not quite. They were watching. I wondered what other life was around, watching. Suddenly I felt eyes on me from every angle.

Then as I have for many days now, I walked on. Or, I should say, we walked on. I was walking too, inside him.

Today a beautiful, young Asian woman ran past wearing weights around her ankles and wrists, and more weights in each hand. Her perfume washed over us as she passed, and I could tell it was a quality variety. She was dressed to the nines in her running outfit with its spangles and light glitter, tight pants and waist high top. Another man was passing in the other direction and he turned and watched her run on her way. I could tell he found her arousing. My “gentleman’ hardly noticed her, if at all. He was in a world of his own. Walking head down.

He was thinking about a friend who was causing him trouble. It was a vexing situation. He was more emotional than investigative. I noticed a certain angry combativeness in him that had never surfaced before. We came out of the bending path to a stone stairway, well worn and climbed up to a wider path, still part of the old railroad, and walked toward a bridge that went over the estuary’s entrance. He stood at the rail breathing deeply. He used his mouth. Then his nose. A repetitive pattern as though rinsing his lungs. He adjusted his neck and shoulders, and breathed deeply again and again. I could feel a meditative state building in which a certain softness, like a blanket, came over him. No real thoughts, just breathing, just standing there. It seemed like about ten minutes when he came to himself again. He turned and looked the other way and almost did it again, But caught himself, looked at his device (I saw the number 4677) and off we went again. His darkness was gone now and we were listening to an audio device. The over and over refrain in the song was “addicted to love.” We were now walking in time to the music. Just as we were about to leave the bridge he saw a person on the granite quarry rocks that founded the bridge’s base. Then he notice a technical bicycle leaning on a tree. I assumed the guy came up while we were lost in thought and breathing.

Back on the bridge, he was now talking to him. They laughed and discussed the herons in the mudflats’ canals. As we left he stopped and wrote something briefly and off we went.

Several miles later he saw a woman on a cellphone talking away from her son who was poised at the top of a slide, his little sister egging him on. He was hesitant, like it was his first time. The mother noticed nothing, enthralled in her phone. The boy finally slid down and jumped up triumphantly at his success and courage. His mother was still turned away, talking to someone. He saw me. We gave him a thumps up. He ran to the slide’s ladder and started to climb back up there again. We walked on.

He stopped briefly to write something and noticed he had dropped the small nylon zippered bag he uses as a wallet. Just two hard candies, a key, and a few dollars. But it was perfect for walking. He had no idea where he had dropped it.

This was the first time I realized that I could have an effect on him. It was so subtle, almost impossible to notice. But, because I am in his mind, I know his thoughts, too.

He started looking around. I could see in his mind that there was only one thing for him to do: execute a search pattern back along the path where we had come. He began a thoughtful, exhaustingly thorough, and a nearly unbearably slow search of every inch of the ground around him, and then moved back down the path from where we had come, and repeated this process. Over and over. I was finding it difficult to stay in the moment with him and my thoughts were wandering. I always think of Karina in moments like this. Usually I focus in on some memory and try to relive it. This time it was when we went, together back to Lemon Lake. We were out on the raft lying in the sun and the mud on us was drying that way that mud dries, like chips curling. I was sitting up for some reason. I started to peel back the mud chips on Karina. One at a time. Beneath the crust of clay was her beautiful, sensuous skin, wet and wild. I had cleared an area near her shoulder and was moving my hand lower. <<I can feel your breath, Farson.>>

<<That’s what I wanted, Karina.>> And then I saw it. The wallet. It was behind us. He had missed it. Knowing how hard he had been searching, and that he had just walked right past it (it was under a low overhanging bush), I shouted at him. “Stop! Look again! Over there.” He stopped and just stood there as though trying to figure something out. He turned around and looked on the wrong side of the path. I was shouting at him, now. But there was no recognition, no tell tale jerk of his head. I knew he had heard something, but it was misty and mauzey within his reception. But he looked around, actually got down on his hands and knees, still on the wrong side, he stood up, me still roiling for acknowledgment inside, and then turned to the other side and saw it. His little purse-wallet. He picked it as though it were a treasure. He looked at it. I could feel his joy of discovery and recovery. He unzipped it and checked the contents, put it back in his back pocket, patting his pocket with affection, and on we walked.

I could tell he felt a great victory had been achieved. Loss overcome; a rare event for humans in this age. He started to whistle softly as we walked. I felt his sense of freedom welling in him; his sense of well being, and, of being in the right place. This eudaemonia lightened his feet as we walked, at a brisk pace, all the way home.

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