frank’s chair

DUSK IS A VERY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE IN THE PASTORAL, UNBLEMISHED SURROUNDINGS OF THE MOUNTAINS. I TRULY BELIEVE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DUSK IN THE CITY. THINK ABOUT IT, AFTER YOU SPEND A DAY IN A SOCIETY WHOSE PREVAILING PHILOSOPHY IS “WHY MAKE SMALL PROBLEMS WHEN YOU CAN CREATE A HOLOCAUST,” THEN YOU MUST NAVIGATE YOUR WAY HOME WITH A SOCIETY WHO MAINTAINS THE SAME PHILOSOPHY IN THEIR DRIVING.
YEAH, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DUSK IN THE CITY.

WELL NOW I SIT ON THE PORCH OF A RUN DOWN CABIN IN A CHAIR THAT SQUEAKED JUST LOOKING AT IT. EMBRACING THE DEEP UNSPOILED, TRANQUILITY OF “DUSK”. EVERY SOUND WAS AS SHARP AS BROKEN GLASS. I COULD EVEN HEAR THE STEAM RISE FROM THE HOT CUP OF FRESHLY BREWED COFFEE I HELD IN MY SORE, BLISTERED, VIRGIN HANDS. THE SUN WAS SETTING ON TALL PINES THAT REACHED THEIR HEADS TO A DEEP, AZURE SKY, DUSTED WITH WISPS OF ASH-ORANGE.

I LEANED UP AGAINST THE CABIN WALL, AND WAS JUST ABOUT READY TO PUT THE LIGHT OUT ON THE BIG CUBAN I WAS CHEWING ON, AND YOU KNOW, I REALISED THE SHADOW WORKING ITS WAY TOWARD ME, WASN’T A SHADOW. NOW I HADN’T SEEN A SOUL IN THIS NECK OF THE WOODS ALL WEEK LONG. ALTHOUGH, IT WASN’T ALL THAT UNCOMMON TO SEE SOME FOLK MOSEY BY WITH A FRIENDLY “HI,” CASUAL WAVE ON THEIR WAY TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. BUT IT WAS QUITE UNCOMMON TO SEE A LADY DRESSED IN A LONG FLOWING WHITE GOWN. HER DEEP AUBURN HAIR, SHOWN BRONZE, AND GOLD IN THE SETTING SUN. HER EYES ALIGHT LIKE A FIRE STARING AT ME FROM WAY INSIDE HER. LIKE AN ANIMAL LOOKING OUT FROM THE BRUSH. ‘COURSE, I TOOK THIS MOMENT ABOUT AS LIGHT HEATEDLY AS A CORONARY. FELT THE DEAFENING ROAR OF SILENCE INSIDE ME WHEN SHE SAID, “MISTER, YOU’RE SITTING ON MY CHAIR.”

HER SHEER SMOOTHNESS WAS ALIEN, EVEN INTIMIDATING. SHE GRABBED MY HAND AND LED ME INSIDE THE CABIN. WE WALKED TO THE LARGE ROOM I CALLED THE LIVING ROOM AND SHE PULLED BACK AN ANCIENT RUG TO REVEAL A HINGED DOOR. THE DOOR LED TO A SPIRAL STAIRCASE AND BEFORE I KNEW IT, WE STOOD AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRCASE FACING A REMOTE, MAJESTIC CHAP IN REGAL LOOKING BOOTS AND A DOUBLE-HUMPED CAMEL BY HIS SIDE. SHE CALLED HIM, FRANK, THE CHAP

WE SPENT THE BETTER HALF OF THE NEXT FOUR DAYS TRAVELING SAND DUNES AND HARD WINDS. ON TWO OCCASIONS, I THOUGHT I WOULD BE LEFT BEHIND. BUT, FRANK LIFTED ME ON THE CAMEL AFTER COOLING MY PARCHED LIPS WITH A LITTLE WATER THAT WE HAD LEFT. ON THE FOURTH DAY, WE REACHED A LONG, QUIET OASIS AND I DIVED FOR RICH, DEEP WATER IGNORING GROUPS OF TWO-HEADED LIZARDS AND OTHER ASSORTED CREATURES. WITHIN HOURS, I WAS AWAKENED BY THE LADY IN THE LONG FLOWING GOWN. HER INDEX FINGER PRESSED TO HER LIPS. WE WERE BESIEGED BY A BAND OF ARAB RAIDERS. THE THREE OF US WERE CAPTURED TRYING TO ESCAPE OUT THE BACKSIDE OF THE OASIS AND HELD PRISONER FOR, AS NEAR AS I COULD CALCULATE, EIGHT DAYS.

I MUST HAVE PASSED OUT FROM THE LACK OF FOOD, BECAUSE I DON’T RECALL HOW I GOT ONBOARD AN OLD FREIGHT BOAT. WE WERE HEADED DOWN THE THICK, BROWN WATERS OF THE WIDE RIVER WITH THICK JUNGLE ON BOTH SIDES. IT WAS JUST HER AND I AGAIN. SOMEHOW, WE HAD ESCAPED. FRANK, AGAIN, SLIPPING ME ONBOARD THIS STINKY SHIP BEFORE HE CAUGHT A HALF DOZEN ARROWS IN THE BACK. WE DRIFTED FOR DAYS. MOST OF THE TIME IN THICK FOG AND TORRENTIAL RAIN. SHE AND I TALKED ABOUT OUR PAST AND OUR FUTURES IF WE EVER GOT OUT OF THIS MESS.

WELL, I ‘D LOST ALL TRACK OF TIME, BUT ONE MORNING I WOKE UP TO THE MELODY OF BIRDS AND A STREAK OF SUNLIGHT ACROSS THE WINDOW OF MY ROOM BELOW DECK. A NOTE LAY BESIDE MY HEAD ON THE PILLOW. I STUCK IT IN MY SHIRT POCKET AND CLIMBED THE STAIRS, GRABBED A TIN CUP OF COFFEE, AND SAT ON THE BOW TO READ THE NOTE. SHE WAS GONE, APPARENTLY EARLIER IN THE MORNING ON A SMALL FISHING BOAT PASSING THE OTHER WAY. SHE SIMPLY WROTE, “UNFINISHED BUSINESS. YOU’LL UNDERSTAND.”

WELL, HERE I AM. A FEW YEARS LATER. A FEW YEARS OLDER. I’M ROMANCING ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DUSK IN THE MOUNTAINS ON THE PORCH OF AN OLD, FAMILIAR CABIN. THERE IS NO CHAIR THIS TIME. IT WAS REPLACED BY A NOTE. SHE SIMPLY WROTE, LOVE IS A RARE OPPORTUNITY AND WHEN THAT LOVE IS SOMEHOW PARTED, IT’S SOMETHING DEEP, DOWN INSIDE THAT WANTS JUST A REMINDER, A SLICE OF THE MEMORY, A POSSESSION. I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW WHY I CAME FOR FRANK’S FAVORITE CHAIR. NOW, YOU UNDERSTAND. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DUSK IN THE CITY.

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