Feb 22, 2024, 06:27AM

The Summer Sun, Part 2

"Excuse me. Who are you?"

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Timmy Marcade sailed along the coast highway, on his way home, as the sun rose. Home was an apartment in a lone white-brick complex facing the Pacific, south of Los Angeles. It was already so late he decided to skip any notion of sleep; better to wash down a pep pill with a pot of strong java and hit today's ground running. Tonight a sleeping pill, early to bed. I'll have the weekend to recuperate.

His bachelor pad was top floor, eight stories up, an ocean view to kill for. On his deck, a light breeze rustling his hair as he sat in a sling chair, feet propped on the guard rail, he thought. He thought about this crazy girl, this Susan Weston, and the signals she sent, signals hot and cold, mostly cold, but when hot they seared like a branding iron.

Timmy knew, just knew, that under her stainless steel hide beat a tender heart, a heart that'd been badly bruised by something awful. She needed love. And understanding. It'd be work, but he swore, "I can save her!"

His mind leaped to the two of them hand-in-hand, a cottage, a grand cottage on the coast, Pacific waves cresting and gently crashing. And lots of land, plenty of room for a bunch of kids to roam. And out front, a picket fence. It'd be a joy, once the ocean air did its salty number on the fence, to scrape it, primer coat it, and add a couple of layers of Benjamin Moore.

They'd have beautiful and brilliant kids! Their genes were first rate! And even if one kid turned out punk, mentally retarded, say? We'd still love that kid to bits!

Contrary to the views expressed by some at last night's dinner, Timmy thought the idea of a manned moon adventure was plausible, dammit! Science is advancing, extrapolating, in ways that fogies can't foresee.

Timmy was confident in President Kennedy being just the man, the visionary, to see this thing through. He's young! Full of vigor! Now’s the time to get on board. Mr. Weston needs to see the potential of all of this. With luck and pluck, we could wind up millionaires. Timmy began to daydream about flying in outer space, of walking on the moon. Or Mars! With Susan! And their kiddies! Sky's the limit, as they so aptly say!

Staring into infinity, beyond the deep blue sea's horizon, he made a big decision. "Call me crazy, call me presumptuous, call me a candidate for Camarillo! I'm going to ask for Susan's hand! This morning! Won't that floor Randy! Sure, it'll throw him for a loop, for a moment. Then he'll rejoice!"

He stalked to the bathroom, to the medicine cabinet for another white cross. "Better take two more. It's going to be a long day." Before he left for work, he took another. Just to be sure. Mustn't falter today of all days in the entire history of the world!

He couldn't get Susan out of his mind. Not on that late drive home. Not on the deck. And not now, driving to work. Her face, fresh as a just-sliced lemon, danced before him, blue eyes a-sparkle, pearly teeth a-twinkle, a girl galaxy of the sublime! Inside the cocoon of his Ferrari he shouted, "Susan Weston! I love you!" His hands on the wheel were white-knuckled. He zipped through tight traffic like Mario Andretti, as if the other cars were pawns, sitting there like dimwits as he winged his way to claim the queen.

At Weston Aerospace he parked and bounded up to and through the thick glass doors, right on time, nine on the dot, maybe three seconds on the early side. He waved a hearty hallo to the nice lady at the front desk, but she was huddled with a couple of fellows in seersucker suits.

Before going to his office, surging with optimism and enthusiasm, the little white pills really kicking in, Timmy knockety-knocked on Randy Weston's door jamb and heard, "Come in!"

Randall Weston looked up from a blueprint and practically cursed, "Yes, how may I help you? Make it quick, got a full plate."

"Good morning, Mr. Weston!" Timmy paused, waiting for Weston to chuckle, "Please! Call me Randy." Instead he got a cold blank stare.

"Um, I'd just like to, uh, um..." Timmy was stopped cold by the icy eyes.

"Excuse me. Who are you?"

A clear blue sky was suddenly one big storm cloud, slate darkening to pitch.

Timmy laughed nervously. Was this a gag? An initiation of sorts? A Weston Aerospace tradition? He didn't know what to say. He stood there like a big dumb dope, cold sweat dripping from armpits, down ribs.

"Look, whoever you are, if you can't state your case and pronto, I'm calling a guard." Weston's hand went to his phone. He lifted the receiver.

"What? I'm Timmy Marcade! I work here! I was at your home for dinner last night..."

"Janice, send a guard over to my office, right away. I have a crazy man here. And he's reeking of alcohol."

"Wait just a minute! Last night! Your daughter! Susan! Sir! I am in love with her! I'd like to..."

Two burly uniformed guards burst into the room. "What's up, boss? This jerk giving you problems? We'll fix his wagon. Just give the word!" A guard grabbed one of Timmy's arms, the other guard the other arm, ready to hustle him out.

Before they could, Weston spat out, "Listen here, you maniac! I don't know who the hell you are, but Susan has been dead for a year. If I weren't a good Christian man, I'd whup the tar out of you, boy!"

Before he knew what hit him, Timmy was being dragged, none too gently, the tips of his shoes bouncing, down the building's corridor and out the front door. "Stop! Stop this! There's been some sort of misunderstanding!"

"Sure! Sure, pally! Just a little misunderstanding. Got that, college boy. Know what? I hate you college boys. I hate you. I hate your stinking slim suit and your fruity crewcut. And your college boy glasses. Oh hell, I just hate your snotty puke-face."

The guards carried him off to the side of the complex, behind a sizeable tree. One stood behind Timmy, pinned his arms. Fists clenched, itching for action, the other gruffed, "Maybe you can understand this: Mr. Weston might be a good Christian gentleman, but we ain't got no such, shall we say, restraints." With that stated, a swift and solid punch to the gut, followed by a right upper cut to the jaw. Timmy dropped to the ground. "Let that be a lesson to ya, ya sick bastid!" For good measure, he kicked Timmy in the head, the hornrims sent airborne.

Timmy groaned in a fetal position, trying not to retch, before he eventually—he had little idea how long he'd cowered there—rose and staggered to his car. His tongue detected one loose and decidedly wince-worthy molar. He sat for a good long while, gasping, forehead resting on the wheel, trying to gather the many little wisps of what might be termed thoughts, attempting to sort them, configure them into sense. But it was like a massive tabletop of hundreds of jigsaw puzzle pieces, and a stranger who kept interrupting, messing any progress Timmy made. The stranger laughed, "Don't mind me. This is my pastime, a form of sadistic playtime, if you will."

Failing to focus, Timmy lit a cigarette, fired the ignition and drove around a bit, randomly across rolling suburbia, remotely aware of the freshly-built ranch houses with car ports, portraits in sunshine and pastels. Hausfraus, grocery bags hugged tight, entered their homes, towheads in tow, unaware of the emotional turmoil punching against the cranium of the young man in the Italian sports car coasting through their idyll.

The amphetamine suppressed any sort of appetite Timmy might've had, but suddenly he was hit with a wave of thirst; as far as his eyes could see: Sahara. All he could think of was a large frosty root beer. At the first A&W stand, he bounced into the macadam lot and waited, with tight patience, for a car hop. In less than a minute, out she popped, lean-limbed, frisky as a bunny. A redhead.

"Wow! Your hair is just so, so... so. Red! It is red! Fire!"

"Yep. I know. What'll it be?"

"Yes, look I know this isn't huge order, but just bring me the largest and the coldest, the ice-coldest, root beer you have. No, wait! Make that two. No! Three! I know it's not much of an order, but I’m a very generous tipper! Ask anyone! Look, here! Five bucks, just take it, keep the change. But bring me those root beers! Please! And thank you! By the way, I've just got to say, I'm sorry if this is out of line, but it’s meant in all sincerity! And humility! You are, without a doubt, I mean indubitably, you are the single most gorgeous thing I have ever seen in my entire life! I mean, gosh, but you are beautiful! Hey! Have an idea! Bring those root beers and drive away with me! I'm currently out of a job, but I have a terrific, simply terrific, resumé! Military and college! I can get a great job anywhere! Let's get married! Let's drive away! To Las Vegas! A chapel there! Or, if'n you're a traditional sort, a church wedding with a certified preacherman! I cannot wait for your folks to meet my folks! They will get along together like peas in a pod! I swear, like peas in a pod!" Timmy stepped out of his car, put his arms around the startled gal and kissed her, a long kiss and, head tossed back, his mouth drier than ever, he croaked, "I love you! You, and you alone! What serendipity that we have met!" She struggled to free herself, but his grip was iron.

It wasn't even noon yet, but the summer sun burned. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Timmy saw the white Jaguar gliding by, top down, Susan Weston at the wheel. She slowed to almost a stop, looked over, blew him a kiss and mouthed, "I love you!"


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