people watching…in a small town…

He looks uncomfortable and out of place sitting there beside her with his worn out Roper boots, Wranglers, and Carhartt tee-shirt. A sweat stained ball cap sits cocked back on his head. He is freckle-faced, but you don’t notice them until you notice them, and then you realize they’ve been there all along, blending in with his skin tone — until the first day working in the summer sun.

She bounces her crossed leg and reads a magazine as she waits. She has an air of sophistication about her, but you can see that it’s just a pretense. She is pretty. In fact, she’s beautiful, wearing a stylish navy pants suit. Her skin is dark brown and adorned with jewelry. Her makeup is flawlessly painted on like a picture in a magazine.

They don’t speak as they wait. He keeps fidgeting and glancing at the clock on the wall. She, on the other hand, looks as if she is patiently waiting for a servant to attend her. They don’t go together. She is Elle, he is Outdoor Life and how they got together the good Lord only knows. They were probably high school sweethearts who fell in love young, both with separate dreams. He’d hoped some small school scout would notice his speed and big heart. She always assumed she’d go off to school, marry a lawyer, and move to a big city, but in a small town things sometimes happen so fast, causing long-term dreams to fade. Now he owns the local Feed and Seed as well as a landscape company that services upscale neighborhoods in Brentwood. She’s able to stay at home. She likes to shop, read, and plays tennis in town with the girls.

“Craig. Mrs. Craig,” the nurse calls out.

Without speaking they put their magazines down and he follows her to the back.

“The doctor will be right with you,” I hear the nurse say before the door closes.

I wonder about them as I thumb through Men’s Health. Are they happy I wonder? Do they talk about their dreams? Soon the door opens and they emerge. Both are smiling now. What a stark contrast. Her cheeks are a bit rosy causing her to glow. She has her arm wrapped in his and clings closely to him.

“So Dr. Martin will see you in two weeks,” the receptionist says.

She smiles and nods then tiptoes up and kisses him on the cheek before they turn and head for the door.  “I hope it’s a girl,” she says as they pass me.

I smile and notice an elderly couple sitting across the room.

 

the boy…

His shadow dances in the trees behind him – the out of proportion shape of a boy with a hat to big and marshmallow smeared up his cheeks. What goes through the mind of a boy when he stares into dancing flames and glowing embers? He could be anything from Daniel Boone to Fred Bear right now. Where is he? Where has his imagination taken him? Are we making memories that he will carry with him throughout his life? He mentioned bears earlier. Is he on a bear hunt? Am I the hero of his dream?                  

The warmth of the coals cuts the bite of the cool night air. Maybe that’s it. We’re in Alaska hunting bears with our longbows. He leads us along the crystal clear glacier waters. Salmon the size of his legs squirm into the current and then we see him — a massive male grizzer bear. In an almost silent whisper, I warn him not to get to close, but using the stealth he’s learned over countless hunts he creeps forward to a position where he can get a shot.  A large bolder provides concealment from the bear that is slowly working his way along the river towards us.  Our hearts are racing as we can now hear the bear’s colossal paws on the rocks. We’re set. I crouch just behind him, a proud but very nervous father. We can hear the bear breathing now, which sends chills up my spine. He brings the bow up for the shot. The bear is literally 10 yards from us when his head becomes visible on the other side of the bolder. He could turn on us in an instant.  Our hearts are about to explode. We are swimming in a pool of adrenaline. The bear looks into the water opening himself up for a quartering away shot. The boy draws the bow, steady and cool, just like I’ve taught him. I admire his skills as I await the release…..and then…..

The boy shakes his head as if waking from a dream. “Dad.”

“Yeah, buddy.”

“Can I have another smoore?”