…write [a] scene from three different points of view. —Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccassins—Point of View
NOTE: I apologize to Blogging University for combining some challenges and disregarding others in order to tell a story that has been part of me for 45 years.
“Oh my God! Help me, HELP meeeee! Oh NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
Harry awoke with a start, sweat from his forehead ran into his eyes and mixed with the tears that went hand-in-hand with the dream. He looked at the clock on the nightstand beside the bed. It was 2:15 AM, the dream was an hour early tonight.
His breaths short and close together, Harry turned and put his feet on the cool terrazzo floor of his South Florida home. One more glance at the clock confirmed that another minute had passed. Going back to sleep again was not in the cards tonight.
In measured moves, Harry got off the bed without disturbing his sleeping wife, Emily. Walking through the dark house, Harry stopped and picked up a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from the credenza in the living room.
Entering the kitchen he lit the first of too many smokes. Harry filled a coffee-maker with water and fresh grounds and pushed the “on” button. He would need the caffeine boost just to get to the 8 AM starting time of his work day. Last night’s bottle of rum didn’t do a thing to help him sleep through the night.
As the smell of cigarette smoke and fresh coffee brewing filled the kitchen, Harry replayed that day in his head—as if that would make the dream go away. Three months had passed and time had not diminished the intensity of the nightly terror.
The coffee was ready to drink at 2:35 AM and Harry poured his first cup of the day.
“Maybe I’ll get to sleep early tonight,” he thought. Harry’s gaze moved to the flowing script of the fresh tattoo on the inside of his right wrist—Kari. Harry had a second thought, “Gin, tonight I’ll try drinking gin.”
“Today the four members of the San Francisco rock group, Creedence Clearwater Revival, signed a contract to appear this August at the Woodstock Music and Art festival in upstate New York. Promoters of the event expect other prominent rock bands to appear….”
A ringing telephone interrupted the 11 o’clock TV newscast already in progress. “Hello, this is Dick.”
“Good evening, sir. This is Larry at the A-one Call Center. People are leaving some unusual messages on your business line, and we want you to let you know about it and see how you wish to proceed.”
“Wish to proce—? Let’s take a step back, what unusual calls?”
“Yes, sir, well…the messages range from threats of bodily harm to your person, to, lemme read this one, oh yeah, to threats of burning down your warehouse.”
“Yes, sir, they want to physically hurt you, and or, destroy your Electrical Contracting business. We thought that you should know about this situation in case you want to contact the police.”
“Thaaank, thank you. I, I, I don’t know exactly.… How many messages are there?”
Larry said, “Well, sir, the first two came in back-to-back and I placed this call right away, ’scuse me a minute, sir—What, Bobby? Holy shhh—sorry sir, we have a total of four messages right now and two more lines are ringing as we speak. No one left a callback number and we cain’t trace calls.”
“Unbelievable, this is totally unbelievable. How about reading me the messages you have so far?” Dick said.
“Yessir, well, the first caller said, and I quote, ‘If anything bad happens, I will find you and eff-you up’, I am editing the profanity, sir.”
“Thanks, please read one about my shop.”
“Yessir, mmm, yeah here goes, ‘I know your business address and it will be a smoking ruin by sunrise if you don’t do the right thing’. Yessir that’s the gist of them. Fire seems to be the common threat to the building.”
“Ok, Larry, thank you for your calling me right away. Please save the messages and any others that come in about, about whatever this ‘thing’ is, will you do that for me?”
“Ok, will do. Good luck sir.”
I stood looking at the pile of tools and material that Earl had set aside and turned around when I heard the sound of series of coughs growing louder. It was Tom and we hadn’t seen each other since the day at the Appliance Repair Center.
“Harry is in Earl’s office and they are both waiting for you.”
Tom stopped, smiled and looked at me. “Good morning to you, too, Sunshine.”
I nodded my head at him and said nothing.
Tom coughed twice and looked at me for a few seconds. “We Ok?”
Tom paused, still looking at me, sizing me up. “You’re sure?”
“Everything’s Aces, Tom. You better hurry up, Earl has a big job to go over with you and Harry and then he is leaving town for the rest of the week.”
Tom shrugged his shoulders and walked up front to Earl’s office while I started loading the truck. The rest of my day in the warehouse would be spent cleaning tools and putting material away.
I heard the rattling of a rollup door as it rose in its tracks close by and stepped outside to see who was there. Two doors away I could hear a radio playing a hit tune from yet another California band, “Oh, Susie Q, Baby I love you, Susie Q…I like the way you walk…I like the way you talk…”
My friend Jan walked through the open doorway, spotted me, smiled, and walked over to shake hands. “Al! Great to see you, man.”
“You too, Jan. When did you go to work for Pixie Electric?”
“Monday was my first day. They’ve got me prefabbing pipe for a 20-story high-rise that is starting up on Lauderdale beach. How ’bout you?”
“Cool, I’m here in the shop for Keystone today just cleaning up, putting stuff away. Maybe we can do lunch together?”
“Sounds good, as long as we can do it in the shade.”
“Yeah, and if we can listen to your radio that would be great. I like your music today.”
“CCR, baby. They are moving up the charts fast. Gonna be big, just wait and see.”
“Speaking of big, I want to thank you, again, for giving me the big nudge last year to get into this apprenticeship program. It has made a huge difference in our lives. I don’t know what we would have done if I hadn’t listened to you. Thank you.”
Jan smiled. “I was just returning the favor that someone did for me. Be sure to do the same thing in the future for someone else. That’s how this works.”
“You’ve got it.”
Jan looked at his watch. “Time to get to work, see you at 10 o’clock for break-time.”
The Summer of ’69 was shaping up to be Fun In The Sun, if working outdoors in 95 degree heat and 90% humidity was your idea of fun. Tomorrow I would be going to Hollywood Beach and begin workingm on some big jobs that were coming out of the ground; Apollo 11 Astronauts were going to fly to the moon in July; young people were going to gather for a 4 day music festival, 4 days—who does that?
“…well, say that you’ll be true…Well, say that you’ll be true and never leave me blue, Susie Q.”
Harry and Tom walked out of Earl’s office and got into the truck. Harry was in the driver’s seat and said, “Is it all there, Kid? It’s gonna be your ass if we get there and we’re missing something today.”
“You’re good to go, guys. Guaranteed.”
Harry lit a small cigar, blew out a puff of smoke and frowned. “I’ve got my eye on you, Kid. You better not’ve fucked up.”
“You’ve got everything on the truck that Earl put out for you today. You might need to talk to him if there is a problem.”
“I’m talking to you, Kid. If there’s a problem, it’s your ass that’s in trouble. Got it?”
“I’ve got it, Harry. Thanks for understanding.”
Harry inhaled more cigar smoke and blew a cloud of it at me. “I’m watching you, Kid.”
I waved good-bye to them as they drove away. I couldn’t wait for lunch.
“…I like the way you walk…I like the way you talk, Susie Q…”
This story will continue with Part 2.
Take a trip down memory lane with the loooong version of Susie Q: