Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lost my cousin, Jimmy, on April 2. Seems like we packed ten years of living into two years, 1969 and 1970. Maybe we really did.

He knew the beer was being filched, four or five bottles on hot summer nights. He had to have known. The rickety garage door smiled, with its slight sag in the middle, and it complemented the neighborly look of the red brick ranch overlooking the river. It was a perpetual invitation, during the summer of 1969, calling our soon-to-be sophomore hormones, begging us to indulge in the newness of an alcoholic offering, pleading to join us and the cigarettes we lifted from my aunt and uncle. Come as you are. No RSVP.

They did not have pets, the man and his wife, so what reason could there have been to leave a garage door lifted about a foot off the concrete floor? Still, there existed, along the perimeter of that friendliness, a fear, each time one of our arms slid under the door, that a handcuff would bite the wrist, spotlights shoot out from a dark corner and deputies would spring across the prickly yews. But there was nothing more than a fresh case of Carling Black Label, a couple times a week—as though the man had hijacked an entire beer-loaded barge—always placed in the same spot, flaps open, teasing us with the honey voice of a goddess, “Last call, gentlemen, last call.”  We drank responsibly, before the phrase was ever invented, and respectfully, sneaking the empties back into the cases. 

Nights on the bank of the Auglaize—bugs buzzing, mosquitoes buzzing, us buzzed—the water so perfectly flat it was hard to tell which view was reflection, which real, and the current so glacially slow you could dig a hole in it, a hole to hold the wishes, wants and dreams of fifteen year old boys.

Once I caught a flicker of light, too strong to be a firefly, in front of, or behind, the huge window on the back of the house. Likely a cigarette lighter or match. Could be he was there wading in the shallows or swimming in the deep of his own darkness. Perhaps stirring up old July evenings from decades past. Regardless, Mr. Treat could not have had a more appropriate name, as far as we were concerned. When summer ended the garage door lost its smile, rolled all the way down every evening, squeaking, screeching along the way, like some witch of a waitress calling, “Bar closed. Bar closed.”

Jimmy Lee Floyd, March 14, 1954-April 2, 2011

1 comment:

  1. There was a funeral this morning
    turn out at the Lutheran Church was huge.
    I went looking in the paper
    to see who the love was for.

    He was 16
    and left them all suddenly.
    The condolences
    spoke of his smile
    and smart-ass wit.

    And they
    would miss him.