Came down down down
In rushing rising rivulets.....
It's been raining for 4 days here on the west coast, and it got me to thinking.
When I was a young man I loved the rain. It cleansed our valley, brought flowers to bloom, and freed me from changing pipes in 13 acres of strawberries and beans. It gave me time to go in to town to go shopping with Momma since I wasn't needed in the fields. It is where I discovered girls, girls in dresses above the knee, people of different faiths and colors. People who weren't like me. The rains allowed my father to relax because water was life, growth, a harvest, and money.
It was after the rains that my dad's outlook would lighten. The corners of his mouth would rise with the level of the reservoir or the speed of the creek. More water meant more acreage under seed, more pipes to move, more equipment to rent, but it meant more hay in the barn and more food on the table.
After a rain we would put on our thick socks, our oldest boots and our "mud-flaps" (our oldest rubber rain-boots) and make the hike up and over the hill to check the water levels and make sure nothing was clogging the main filler pipes. It was during one of these hikes that I got a taste of being King.
My dad left with my older brother to move up the hill and see if one of the irrigation valves was stuck. When ever we hiked I brought my field glasses and looked for birds, mountain lions, and treasure. Skies were gray and threatened more rain so my dad had to move quickly. With strict instructions NOT to wander off "this time" I climbed up "Tommy's Rock" to look around. Tommy's Rock got its name from various rumors that swirled around it. Tommy Prescott, local hunk and criminal in training had either killed or been killed on that rock. Some said it was suicide because there was a gun found close to the body, others said it was one of his drug-deals gone bad, while some claimed, though we scoffed at this, that Tommy was a sacrifice in a Satanic cult. That one didn't fly with me. But either way, they found him here, dead. That was good enough to get the granite outcropping named in his dubious honor.
The rock as cold on my behind as I sat and looked for birds, though I knew I was out of luck with the wind that was kicking up. I scanned the tree-line in vain, waiting for a wren of quail to show their question-marked heads but had no luck. I could see the top of our chimney, the Barker place a ways down the hill, and a bit to the right of my place, the Claytons. Since they had no kids, they had more money than daddy and bought a couple of acres from the Johnsons who lived just to the north of us. Father hated seeing the land split up but did have the money to buy the land himself.
The wind lightened a bit and for a few minutes the sun peaked through the clouds. I warmed up enough to take off my jacket and look out in to the valley. Just over the trees, I saw her walking out of her house. The weak sun bounced of her brilliant white robe and made her easy to spot and hard to ignore. She came out to their back yard which we rarely saw. They had built the tallest privacy fence we had ever seen and had no idea why they were being so unfriendly. When my oldest brother came back from college he walked over to the fence, took a deep breath in through his nose, and smiled as if he was the prize pig at the state fair. He laughed and ran in to tell something to Momma about this newly smelled knowledge, "Well heaven's boy," we heard her reaction, "Don't tell your father."
This just added to the mystery of the new neighbor with the high fence and the pretty wife. The mystery was solved as I sat there on Tommy's rock with my field glasses.
She walked to the edge of the pool they never let us use and was waiting for someone. Another woman came out of the house carrying boxes and bags that she dropped on the driest wet spot she could find. The new woman in a parka and heavy boots came dressed for a very different day than the woman in the robe. She pulled a camera out of the bag and took some pictures of the sky and the house and a flower plot in the corner of the lawn.
I couldn't hear them talking abut it looked funny to see them move without sound. It was funny until Ms. Clayton started moving. I stared with great concentration as she played with her hair and danced around. As the strength of the sun warmed the earth, she dropped to robe to display her body in an incredibly small bathing suit. It was smaller than the smallest thing I had ever seen in sister's laundry basket. My ass was glued to the rock and my faces was welded on to the glasses. As the dance continued I saw things for the first time as they really are. She was touching her own boobs, I couldn't believe it, it was like she was pretending to shower in the back yard and I almost laughed out loud.
But then I stopped laughing as Ms. Clayton did something I didn't think nice people did. She untied the strings of that immodestly small suit and let it drop to the ground all together. I did the same with my field glasses. They skittered down the rock and I took the Lord's name in vain as I jumped off Tommy's death rock and grabbed the glasses from the dirt. One lens was scratched, the other was dirty, but the metal casing was dinged and dented from the 15 foot slide down the rock. I would catch hell from Father for that one.
Distracted as I was, I still remembered why I was up on that rock and I scrambled back to my perch. She was on a lounge chair now, naked except for a small patch of red fabric covering her bits. I couldn't believe it. Momma would have a fit if she knew what was going on next door. The city council would get involved for sure, the Women's League would sponsor the pitchforks and torches, and all the men would be smiling behind their wive's back. I had seen boobs before, I wasn't a hick, but they had been on paper, in a dog-eared Playboy stolen from my cousin's step-father's office. But now, I, Franklin Wright, was looking at them for real, even if they were 300 yards away. I had the memories and the stiffy to prove it.