Whirlwind Romance

A rush of emotion dropped a veil over all but the tiny world of the two people in seats 11A and 11B, in a jet plane floating somewhere over the Atlantic, in a still moment in time.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Man in the Mist: Musings on Longboat Key

Longboat Key, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is the setting for my latest work-in-progress, Whirlwind Romance. Like all barrier islands, it is a capricious place, quick to change--placid one moment, and in the next vicious billows gallop overhead obscuring the turquoise sky. Sunsets are particularly unsettling. They rake the heavens with clashing colors--a palette of all those hues we were taught not to wear together—and strafe the poor defenseless clouds with rapier blades of coral and salmon and orange. On the cusp of dawn or dusk the unfallen rain sometimes fills the air with a deep pink mist.

I wrote this one evening in summer as I wandered near my house.

How do I describe this place, this moody, hag-ridden, ghostly place, this island riddled with mangrove swamps, this strip of sand haloed in mist, pinpricks of hazy light piercing the haze? Paradise? Or haunted heaven?

Tonight the moon is neither waxing nor waning. It's a Cheshire cat smile, a slice of weird humor or cantaloupe. Is it grinning in anticipation? No, in "post-icipation." It knows us, knows how superstitious we are. It plays with us, sending curtains of white fog to set the mood. Street lights join in the fun, clicking on as the night descends. Soft music flows from the gutters---the chuck chuck of rats chewing on old newspapers, the tap tap of the dew dropping from mahogany trees on old newspapers, the rasping of grackles teetering on telephone wires and pooping on old newspapers. So much for the power of the media.

The ghost slips by me. He wears a purple Vikings jersey and Green Bay socks. The mist glistens on the sparse hairs crowning his head. He lopes, except when he limps. He stops under the streetlight, wipes his forehead, rub his thigh as if it aches and runs on.


I go on home to bed, but the mist stays with me, hanging outside like a lost kitten, hoping I'll go back out and let it envelope me, drawing me into the old island dream where pirates dance and Indians dwell and treasure hides. A rum ride.

No comments: