The phone rang. Busy making dinner, Lily answered for me, while I obliviously continued my quest for dinner.
“Mom! some lady’s on the phone, and she says she has a Collect Call from Brasil…”…she shrugged…
Oh great, I thought. Some friend of mine is messing with me… they’re so sick of hearing about Mr Brasil, and now they’re giving me grief….
“Here hon, give it to me…” (damn…)… “Hello?….”
“Halllooo? Yez, iee haf a collect call from Alcir… yooo doo not know sumone named Alcir?” came the dusky, accent laden voice.
“Uh………yeeessss….. I slowly pulled from my mouth, while brain went into permafreeze…. silent moments passed…..
“Hallloooo? Eeeeez Theeees Reeely Yooo?” came that old familiar dark deep voice, that voice that seemed to go right to my nether regions…
I took a deep breath, and in my confusion, suddenly everything stopped. I had a house guest… one of my absolute favorite friends, playmates, collaborator, D I shall call him, and he and his buddy were up from the Bay Area to find large driftwood for his new store in the city… and dinner, D, Lily, time…. all became temporarily irrelevant.
“Yessss..???” which ended in a question, because there was no where else for me to go with this. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in Two years, and frankly, knowing him as I did, I found myself at times wondering if he was even alive.
Oddly enough, I had just gotten a Card back, return to sender, no such animal, that I had sent to Tahoe weeks ago, in desperation. My mind had been plagued with terrible wondering, I couldn’t stop thinking of him, and I had written something simple, direct inside:
“Come Back….. At Least let me know you are Alive”… It had a tender print of Isis holding a wounded Osiris on the front. I still have it.
Weeks had passed, and then there it was in the mail… oh no… I may never know…
That was but Days ago… and Now…? how can this be?? I excused myself to the pantry. I needed isolation, focus, clarity, a brain please. Shake brain like Snow Globe…. let dust settle….
“Where Are you?” I semi stammered.
“In Brasil… tonight there hass been many celebrations, with many friends and family from long ago …I Had to come back. Eeeets my contree…” he trailed off.
Long ago, he had left Brasil, run actually, from an inevitable jail sentence, perhaps death… and his Grandfather had given him money… he’d bought a 30 foot boat, and sailed away, alone, around the Horn all by himself… he was maybe 20…
“I was a Revolutionary. I robbed banks to finance the Revolution. An’ then a coople of peeeple got Keeeeled, an I had to leeeef.”
That was over ten years ago, ten years he’d spent in Norway, Hawaii, and finally, and mostly, the West Coast. He’d acclimated quickly, Loved it.
“What … where ..have …you been?…”…( so he just Got there? tonite?)…
“I waz een the French Foreign Legion” he told me. OK… another brain freeze.
“What??? what was it like?”
“Hell… Eeeet waz Hell. But I got out, an came back. ”
“What …. like what do you mean?”
“oh…. like walking for twenty miles with a hundred pounds on yer back, an eeef you fall down, they Keeeek you…”
“How did you get out?” I asked, for I’d seen enough about the Legion to know that once you join, you give up all rights, all contracts, all everything, for Seven Years. How could this man…?”
“Oh… they deedn’t know whaat too doo weeth me for a while… All three of them had mee in a rooom for a few hours…” He referred to his double citizenship… Brasil, US (he’d been born in Honolulu while his parents were traveling) and I guess France and the Legion. I fantasized him escaping, running through the jungle, dodging bullets… big grin on his face…
“I Love You” he breathed softly…
“What..?” I squeeked, breath gone. He’d never said that, ever.
Once I had said that to him, in the midst of love, and he busted out
“Nooooo, don’ sayee thaaat. Why, because we have good orgasms? Nooo…don’ saayee thaat.” It was like an allergic reaction…
“Could you say that again please…Words, I want to hear words…” I coughed.
“I Love You…. an I Alwaays Deeeed, an I woould not wan you to theeeenk somtheeen deeferent.”
Breathe, Carol, breathe.
“I’ve never forgotten”
“..and I’ve never forgotten…”…
We stood there… half a world apart… and it was alive, still alive. I didn’t care how much it was costing, how long, nothing…
“I’m sorry for calling collect,” he said…”I’ll make it up to you when I see you.”
My knees went weak. By now I was lying on the bare floor of that narrow pantry, staring up unseeing, at shelves of canned beans and pasta.