The Rogue and the Runaway
Copyright© 2014 – Nicholas Hall
"The Invitation to Dance"
"O body swayed to music,
O brightening glance.
How can we know the
Dancer from the dance."
(William Butler Yeats)
Dawn was barely breaking, the morning mists on Burridge Slough wisping, winding, almost floating around the rushes and lily pads at the far end, until stirred by a gently rising breeze and the rustling wings of song birds and waterfowl as they began winging hither and yon in search of a prize or destination known only to each.
The coffee, hot, aromatic, and laced with the faintness of cream permeating its taste and color, was comforting and fortifying as I sat on the porch, enjoying it and the beginning of a new day. It wasn't long until I heard the distinctive footsteps of Seth entering the kitchen. Waiting, as the footsteps halted, for him to pour a cup of coffee and join me, I heard instead, "Holy shit; coffee already!"
The exclamation erupting from him brought me from my chair on the porch to the kitchen. Laughing as I noticed the perplexed expression on his face as he reached for a cup in the cupboard, I announced, "There's already a cup by the percolator, next to the thermos," delighting in his amazement!
Setting my own cup down, I suggested, "Seth, why don't you sit down, enjoy your coffee, while I fix breakfast; bacon, eggs, and toast okay?"
Before he could reply, I'd already started the process!
"How long have you been up?" he asked incredulously
"Long enough to fix the coffee, pack you a lunch, in the small cooler on the counter," indicating its location with a wave of the spatula I held in my hand, "and get everything ready for breakfast." Before he could ask anymore, I continued, "You said you wanted to get an early start and I thought this'd help."
"I'll be damned!" he muttered, pleased with my efforts. His pleasure brought a good feeling inside me, knowing I'd pleased him. It was certainly something it seemed I was unable to do when I lived at home.
Seth offered to help clean up after breakfast, but I waved him off. "You want to get going and I can do this after you leave. Do you need any help?"
After he thought a moment, he acknowledged it wouldn't be a bad idea, if I didn't mind. Of course I didn't mind, I wanted to share his work with him and learn more about what he did.
"I have to get the ATV out, hook the small trailer behind, load it with motor gas, bait, ice chests, and plastic tubs, plus my tool and repair kits. If you want, you can help me load and haul everything to the boat."
Seth had a routine and he talked me through it as we worked. I filled the ice chests with twenty pound bags of ice cubes from the biggest chest type freezer and agreed to fill bags from the ice maker in the house and replenish the supply. He pulled three fairly large bags of something from the smaller chest type freezer and set them one of the big plastic tubs.
"I use the ice to keep the catch fresh, especially the catfish, on days it gets hot and I have a ways to take them to market. Fish and ice go in the big plastic tubs. If I have too many for them, then carp and buffalo just go in the bottom of the boat. This other stuff," pointing to the other bags in the tub, "are frozen bait for the box traps. I bring home dead big head carp, let them rot for a couple of days, chop them up and freeze'em. Catfish feed by smell and anything that smells like pig shit will attract them. Rotten clams or chicken guts work really well also."
Well, that certainly was appealing and appetizing!
It was a quarter to five when Seth slipped on his life jacket, started the big outboard motor on the flat boat, and prepared to leave. As an afterthought, he asked, "I have a couple of letters on my desk that need to be mailed. Could you do for me?"
"Where?" I had no idea where a post office was!
"At the end of the lane is my mailbox. Put the letters in, flip up the little red flag so the rural carrier knows there's mail going out, and the carrier picks it up when she leaves our mail."
That wouldn't be too difficult I thought and was about to agree to do so, when he called me over to the side of the boat.
"Yes?" I asked, curiously.
Seth smiled and gave me a kiss!
I watched as he maneuvered the big boat out into the slough and then listened as he went through the cut and out into the Wapsipinicon River. I waited on the dock until I could hear his motor no more and started back up to the house. He'd said it was a short distance down river to where the Wapsi entered the Mississippi and he'd work up and down the big river lifting his box traps and checking his hoop nets. If all went well, he should be home around dusk, after he sold his catch.
Commercial fishing seemed like a great deal of work to me, but Seth enjoyed it and that's all that mattered as far as I was concerned. I pondered putting the ATV and trailer away and decided I didn't know how to operate it, so it would have to wait until Seth came home. The sun was full up when I finally wandered back up to the house since I dawdled on the way, enjoying the out-of-doors in this early morning.
Inside, the house seemed empty without him. I'd only been here such a short time, yet Seth made me feel wanted, needed, and without saying it, demonstrated by the brief kiss he gave me just a bit ago, loved! I picked up the letters on his desk and, since I didn't know what time the mailman came by, decided to hike up to the road and mail them. Cognizant of Seth's warning concerning the presence of rattlesnake, I looked around in the shop, found a broken shovel handle, hefted it for weight and durability, and decided it would make not only a good "snake thumper" but walking stick as well.
The wooded lane was shaded from the morning sun making the walk to the mail box pleasant and invigorating. Although the house was a mile or so from the main road, it really didn't seem that far to me. I was entertained during my journey by the sights and sounds of the forest birds and was more than amply rewarded when a flash of red dashed from the woods and stopped in the lane in front of me. The creature eyed me carefully and dashed off into the woods again. I was thrilled – I'd never seen a wild, red fox before!
The graveled lane made a gradual incline until, as I neared the end, the surrounding forested landscape gave way to flatter, open farmland, stretching toward low bluffs off to the south. The mail box was where Seth indicated it would be, so I placed his letter in it and raised the little red flag attached to the side of the box. It seemed strange to me to do so, since at home father's congressional aide handled the majority of our mail. What mail did arrive at our home was brought to my father's desk by one of the domestic help and left for him to take care of.
Turning from the mail box to return home, I noticed the other two homes I'd passed on the drive the other night. The older home on this side of the road, perhaps one hundred or two hundred yards away, was where Seth was raised and now occupied by his brother and family and, the newer, smaller home just across the road from it, now the home of his parents. A pickup truck was just leaving the drive of the newer home and heading my way.
Not wanting to call attention to myself and wondering why people got up so early, I picked up my walking speed, hoping to avoid contact with the people in the truck. I'd walked about fifty yards down the lane when a woman's voice hollered "yoo hoo!" I chose to ignore the call, determined not to be deterred on my journey, but the woman "YOO HOO'd" again, louder and more insistent sounding. I had no choice but to turn and at least acknowledge her presence. She was waving an arm out the window, beckoning me back to the road.
Cautiously, I walked back to the road and approached the pickup, standing at least ten feet away. Far enough I thought, if she was to do me harm, I'd have a head start if I needed to take off. I may not be very big, but, shit man, I can run! Raised in the city, attending private school, and the child of a very prominent individual, I was naturally suspicious. Peering at me from the driver's side of the truck was a lightly tanned, grey-haired lady, her head poked out through the open window. A smile, broad and warm, decorated her face, accentuating the crow's feet lines around eyes that twinkled like stars in an autumn night sky and dimples on her cheeks. It was a face and smile that made a person feel comfortable and welcome in her presence. Her very looks, dimples especially, identified her as Seth's mother, I thought.
I stepped a little closer when she said warmly, "So, you must be Seth's new friend!"
I nodded shyly.
"He never did mention your name the other day when he was helping make hay."
"David," I answered quietly.
"He was right about one thing," she commented with a laugh, "when he said you were a shy one! I'm Seth's mother, Alice!"
She looked me over carefully, appraising me, but not critically or making me uncomfortable, but more approvingly. Evidently she liked what she saw.
"David, I'd love to visit, but I'm off to do some shopping before the sun gets too high. Nice to meet you; I hope you'll stick around. I know for certain Seth sure wants you too," and with a warm smile and a wave, drove off.
Alice Burridge impressed me, even in our short meeting, as sincere, genuine, and truthful in her warmth and invitation for me to stay. She reminded me of Cook; only thinner and white!
Uncertain when Seth would be home later that day, I bustled around, filled bags with ice from the ice maker, carted them out to the freezer in the shop, and then rummaged around in the freezer in the house for something for dinner for the two of us. I figured he'd be hungry for something hot and filling so I selected a beef shoulder roast. Back to the cook book; where I found a recipe for a beef pot roast in a slow cooker. Perfect! It would be a one pot meal again, but with all of the veggies tossed in to cook slowly all day with the beef roast.
Although tired from getting up so early, I decided to give the kitchen a good cleaning. Cook always told me if a body didn't want to get sick, keep a clean kitchen. Lunch consisted of a light salad, piece of toast, and cup of tea. After lunch, I took my leave of the kitchen to the porch, and fell sound asleep on a very comfortable couch there.
I woke suddenly; without opening my eyes, I felt I was not alone on the porch! Whoever it was, was very near and not saying anything. Fearful I'd been found by my father's stooges, I slowly opened my eyes and saw Seth sitting next to me, smiling.
"Hi!" he said.
"Oh my God," I moaned, "I never heard you come home. What time is it?" I asked looking at my watch. It was almost five o'clock; I'd slept most of the afternoon.
"I'm so sorry," I continued apologetically, "I intended to be up and about when you came home. I shouldn't have fallen asleep."
"I don't know; just because!"
"We get any mail?"
"I don't know," I confessed, "I never checked, but I'll go get it."
"Sit still," Seth laughed, "I'll run up on the ATV after I get the boat unloaded."
"I'll help," I offered, standing up rather groggily.
"You don't have to; it'll take just a few minutes."
"But I want to," I pleaded softly.
With another smile, a toss of head, and a happy, "Come on," we both left the porch. It didn't take long to unload the boat, cart everything to the shop, and put stuff away. Seth revved the motor of the ATV and said, "Climb on behind me, Davie, and we'll go get the mail."
I slithered my small body behind him, straddled the bulky machine, wrapped my arms around his stomach, and laid my head against his back.
"I stink, Davie, like river, sweat, and fish!" he warned.
Snuggling my head even closer, I sighed, "I don't care," and up the lane we went!
While he showered, I fixed us each a cocktail. When he emerged from his bedroom, all cleaned up and fresh smelling, clothed in a tee-shirt and board shorts, he looked wonderful to me!
The pot roast for dinner was a hit!
"I could get used to this," he commented as he helped himself to another plateful.
"I hope so," I answered.
We cleaned up from dinner and my intentions were to talk to him about learning how to operate the ATV and what the heck box traps and hoop nets were, but before leaving the kitchen, I said, "I met your mom today."
"At the mail box, but we didn't talk long; she had some shopping to do. She's nice!"
"I think so too," said as he stepped up behind, wrapping his arms around me, resting his head on mine, and continued softly, "but not as nice as you,"
Turning me around, he lowered his head, sought and found my lips with his, and tentatively kissed me. I responded by opening to him, inviting him in, and kissed him back passionately. Pulling away, he murmured, "There was a television show, titled, "Dance Me Outside," I watched it after my older brother taped it on the VCR about some young people on a First Nation reserve in Canada. It was based on a book by W.P. Kinsella, I think. Anyway, they used that phrase, `dance me outside' when they wanted to leave a dance or something and, you know, do something more intimate outside, away from others."
I relaxed in his arms and asked, "Are you asking me?"
"Yes, I am," he replied and led me to his bedroom.
To be continued:
Thank you for reading The Rogue and the Runaway – Chapter Five –"The Invitation to Dance"-
"O body swayed to music,..." (William Butler Yeats)
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