Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Aqua Mustang 96 – IN BATTLE GEAR

In the intervening years there had been only a few trips to New Hampshire, and almost none when the snows were coming. A life in cities all over the world, most of them tropical. Some trips into jungle and desert and ocean and equatorial mountains, but always back to cities. Barely sticking a toe into countryside.

I had decided now in November of ’86 that though I could not afford much of anything, I would need outdoor winter clothes for this latest expedition to the north – this place where disaster was always about to strike, this place of poisonous snakes and killer storms and undercover molestation and any number of other acts of, or against, nature. It might still seem like a cheerful autumn in New York but it was dangerous wintertime up there. I needed to dress right for self protection.

I did have a new checked green flannel shirt that had more style then the clothes to which I had been too accustomed most of my life. You had to put it on overhead like a sweater, it was that stylish. I had just bought it at Saks with a credit card left over from my recent marriage. And I also still had a surprisingly still valid Lord & Taylor credit card that my wife had ordered. At Lord & Taylor I charged a sharp looking blue wool scarf, and a pair of boots that looked a little like the work boots I had worn in adolescent days for social hiking in mountains in groups that included young pretty girls. I kidded myself that these boots would protect me from the freezing cold I remembered from the deep past.

I am going up there again in this time of change – this time when what really went on is coming into the light – this time of death and suicide and revelation about the darkness that surrounded those perfect seeming summers in those perfect if slightly stiff and formal mountain family places. It is two and a half months since my return from the summer of probing across the border from Vermont. It is only a month since the last trip, which a trysting trip. She was American girl of some undetermined age but still a girl, the sight of whom had set me reeling – though he had a mostly English accent like those people from the past and came from the same supposed strata. That last trip had become sweetly intense, though ending in multiple betrayals layered on the most un-New Hampshire sort of unfettered sex. And now I must go back again.

Although I had been back so recently, it had been so long since I was there as a part of the place that I did not even have the clothes for it. This place that was supposed to be so beautiful but where the elders were always talking about death – violent death by lighting and sudden mountain storms or stirred up mama bears or rusty nails that created fatal blood poisoning – and also death by sudden disease or stroke – death by old age at any age. I was about to leave New York again to take on death, for there had been sudden new events up there. This time I was off to do a Don Quixote thing – and even less prepared for the reality I might face than that Spanish would-be knight had been. For he did not ride off to fight the enemies, windmill or otherwise, dressed for battle by Saks and Lord & Taylor.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Thank you Fred. I love how you achieve this string of humor, connecting the feeling of fear and dread throughout the piece. It pulls me along your words and images...always wanting to read more at the end.