Friday, June 10, 2016

She Doesn't Talk to Strangers

It was late Saturday afternoon and I was manning the trading post on my own. Several years ago Jana and Laurie decided working seven days a week was altogether too much time for Steve and me to be spending at Twin Rocks. They came to believe we needed at least one day off each week. Because he and I are grateful for the wives we have and desire to maintain healthy relationships, we figured it best to listen to their wise counsel. So now, as a general rule, Saturday is Steve's day off and Sunday mine. On that schedule, I come in early to check on the cafe and once that inspection is complete open the trading post by 8:30. Since we have excellent staff at the restaurant, and, as Steve likes to say, "Either of us can run the trading post standing on our heads," this arrangement works well. On Sundays the trading post is closed and Steve can be found managing the cafe from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. That is why on Saturday evening I found myself walking the wide front porch, watering the fountain grass, moisturizing the hanging plants and soaking the lizards that wandered too near my jet-stream.
Navajo Chief Basket - Peggy Black (#408)

As I proceeded with my project, a fairly new Chevrolet pick-up truck with matching camper shell and Florida license plates pulled up to the far end of the porch. As the vehicle rolled to a stop, a mature gentleman plopped out. The man looked to be in his late 60s or early 70s. Curly silver locks protruded from under a faded and ragged Florida Gators ball cap and aviator sunglasses shaded his eyes. He wore a short, but still shaggy, salt and pepper beard. Thick, similarly mottled body hair matted his forearms and legs. He looked to be around 5' 8" and maybe 250 pounds. His stretched out Polo shirt was striped with white, pink and green horizontal bands of color and his off-white, sweat-stained knee-length cargo shorts did their best to contain his ponderous paunch. Well-worn, once white deck shoes covered his sock-less feet.

As I looked on, the man strode around to the left side of the truck and began an animated conversation with who ever sat in the passenger seat. I could hear what sounded like faint murmuring from inside the cab, but because the windshield was tinted could not see inside. I observed the side window was partially down and that a figure moved about inside the vehicle. That, however, was all I could discern. From where I watered, I heard snatches of the man's conversation. He loudly expressed thoughts about the towering Twin Rocks and the marvelous country they were traveling. He asked if his companion was hungry enough to eat. As I moved further down the porch, away from the truck, the man's conversation became less cognizable. His enthusiasm and exaggerated manner, however, continued unabated.

I finished watering, rewound the hose and went back inside the post. Before long the man wandered into the store through the Kokopell doors, his companion notably absent. I struck-up a conversation with him and he explained, "We are on a grand road trip." He then described a roundabout pattern of travel from Florida to Chicago, Chicago to Seattle, Seattle south through California, finally winding up in Vegas. Throughout his travel log, he kept mentioning "her." I was curious as all get-out who "her" might be, so after he explained how he nearly lost his trousers playing Texas Hold'um at the "Lost Wages" casinos, I asked what his wife thought about that situation. "Wife," he nearly shouted, "who said I was married?"

"Well," I explained, "you were talking to someone in the truck and you have been commenting on, "she" and "her" since you arrived in the store." "Oh that," he chuckled, "I was talking to my dog." I laughed along with him and said, "Sorry about that. By the way you were talking I thought you were having a conversation." "We were," said the man as cooly as you please and then detailed why he was no longer, "bonded." He explained that during his last relationship he brought home a steak for himself, another for the dog and kibble for his girlfriend. Upon finding he was indeed serious about feeding their dog a slab of prime beef and serving her dog food she invited him to move out. "But I told her," he said, "not without the dog." Her reply? "If that's what it takes!" After a long and caustic explanation about the departure of his three ex-wives, and several subsequent girlfriends, he came to this summation, "None of them, I say, none of them, could understand my needs!" "Alrighty then," I said, thinking how a statement like that might go over with Laurie, "I am beginning to see the light."

During the matrimonial tirade, my mind kept coming back to his conversational canine. So, as he prepared to leave I asked, "Do you think I might come outside and say 'hello' to your friend? I have never seen a talking dog." "No," exclaimed the man, shaking his shaggy head, "she does not talk to strangers." "I shouldn't wonder," I mumbled under my breath. After he departed, I watched as the sketchy gentleman opened the pick-up door, observing a white and tan English bulldog hop out. The animal waddled over to the rocks in front of the trading post and jumped up on one, facing the man. There they resumed their dialogue, the man speaking loudly and vigorously motioning with his hands and the dog yipping back to him. I doubt they fully appreciated what the other was saying, but they definitely communicated. It is said there is someone, or, in this case, something, for everyone. It seems fortunate this guy finally found a female he could get along with.

With warm regards from Barry Simpson and the team,
Steve, Priscilla and Danny.

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