Thursday, January 3, 2013

Aunt Clara Part Thirteen

 As I drove down Magnolia Avenue I sang along with Willie. "Whiskey river take my mind..."
I was feeling really tired so I decided to take a nap in the parking lot at the shoe shop. I shut the motor off but left the radio on at a very low volume. I leaned the driver's seat back as far as it would go and closed my eyes. The next thing I knew,  there was a light tapping on my window. It was Yvonne motioning me to roll the window down. I recovered my senses, rolled it down, and she handed me a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. "Here you go, Pop, just the way you like it. Real cream, no fake stuff, and two sugars. Careful, it's hot."
      I turned the radio off and, gratefully, took the coffee. She was right, it was hot. It was also very tasty.
      "So", I said, "You ready for your poker lesson?"
      "Oh, yeah", she said, "I'm ready. Only I think I'm going to be giving him a lesson!"
      "You go girl," I said, as cool as possible. She rolled her eyes a little, reminding me of me.
      "What time is it?", I asked. "Ten 'til midnight", she said. "Can we go on in? I'm cold!"
      We walked across the street and a little ways up the alley to the side door of the shop. I unlocked the door, but just as I was about to step inside, Yvonne touched me on the shoulder and whispered, "Shhh, Papa, listen... you hear that?"
      I nodded my head yes. It was some old song I didn't recognize. It sounded like something from the nineteen twenties or maybe the thirties.    
      We made our way through the backroom, the "storage" area, in the dark. When we got to the swinging door, the one leading into the big showroom, Yvonne tapped me on the shoulder again and said, softly, "Wait, let me take a look." We could hear the music plainly now and, as Yvonne moved past me in the darkness, I could also hear what sounded like shuffling shoes. Like... dancing. Yvonne opened the door slightly and a beam of light fell across her face. I was listening and watching as her eyes grew wide and she smiled big. 
      "What is it?!", I whispered, "C'mon, Yvonne, what is it?!"
      "Oh... my... God", she whispered back. "I can't believe it. Oh, Papa, you won't believe it either. Look". She stepped back into the darkness and I moved forward and peered into the room. The music, louder now, was playing fast and, as I adjusted my eyes to the light, my heart fairly skipped a beat. Or maybe it doubled up on the beat. There they were. Uncle Jack and Aunt Clara... dancing! Jack in his silk suit and his gold toothed grin beaming. And Aunt Clara, not in her wheelchair, but rather... twirling and swirling and kicking up her heels. They were doing the Charleston!
      Then, suddenly and at the same instant, Jack and Clara turned and looked in my direction. They were dancing in place now and motioning with their heads for us to come on in.
      Yvonne had been watching over my shoulder and did not hesitate to push past me and into the lighted room. She stood there for just a moment and then took off in sort of a quick skip. When she got to where they were doing the Charleston she began doing it, too. The three of them were dancing up a storm and I just stood there like a dummy. An absolutely amazed dummy.
      Yvonne was motioning wildly for me to join in. 
      "C'mon Pop! It's fun! C'mon!". But I just stood there, breathing a little too heavily and tapping my foot imperceptibly  I've never been much of a dancer and didn't want to embarrass myself. I just stood there staring and wondering.
      Finally the song ended and the three dancers hugged as they smiled and laughed.
      Uncle Jack lit a cigar, took a swig from a silver flask, and sat down on Great Grandma's old wicker chair. Aunt Clara eased herself into her wheelchair. Her magical, flying, wheelchair.
      She said to Yvonne, "Sweetie, your papa looks a little confused!"
      Nodding her head in agreement, Yvonne walked over to me and said, gently, "Papa, think about it. I mean really. If Aunt Clara can fly... what makes you think she can't dance?!"
      Then, once again, I felt that wonderful, indescribable, sense of ... joy... and peace... and light.
      Uncle Jack scooted his chair over to the card table and began shuffling the deck.
       "Let's play poker", he said, as he winked at Yvonne.

No comments:

Post a Comment