I say it out loud. Don’t know why so much. Just had to say it out loud. Staring at some bocce court, just outside the clubhouse. If it wasn’t the billiard inside during the chilly winter months, when the palm trees would rustle and bend a bit, it was the bocce court in the spring. Always out in this thing, chucking little clay balls at each other, like shot-put upside down.
The court is gravel, grey, and full of divots. There is one obstruction, a pile of pebbles hardened together, that always made him cuss and chomp down on the cigar. I bend down and pick up a few stray hedge leaves from the nearest end board. Kick at a mangled plastic black & mild mouthpiece. Little teeth marks, speckles of dirt, over and over again as it rolls near the center line.
Glance over at the pool. It’s covered. Water pilates won’t start for a few months, once the snow birds come back.
Rick Dino is in the Jacuzzi. He always asks me to join him. 'C’mon Phyliss, you old bird,' he says, 'Drop that old housecoat and jump in.'
I’d tell him he’s out of line, that he’s too fresh for me. Then he’ll say something about the bubbles being good for his angina. I know when they stop, when the soup stops simmering, that I’ll see his little sausage swimming below the surface. It’s no secret. Trunks sit by the step. The water smells like undershirts after too much Chlorox, and I’ll always see, though I’ve never seen, that little finger bobbing up and down. I can climb in with him now, I know, but it’s chilly here in the Winter.
The park is quiet these days, and the trailer lights, set on security timers, burn dim after the sky fades from pink to purple to navy. And black. Right now it’s deep dusk and those poolside lights, burnt orange lamps, they are inviting. The Dino-saur is not, so much, but I think about it. Fondle the top button on my paisley print housecoat. Reconsider. If I drop the thing at tub’s edge, it’ll get covered in all these little leaves. End up looking like the nine hole mini-putt next to the shuffle board courts.
It’ll feel like me, all dirty and used and trampled on. Dried veins clinging to faded fabric. And then there’s Dino’s little package, a surprise over one of the jets. Can’t do it, not yet.
Sofie zips by on her electric Cart-boy.
‘Hi Phyliss, enjoying the night air?’
I put my hand up to wave, but she’s already around the corner, buzzing over the wooden bridge that crosses the pond. No fisherman this late in the season. Or is early in the season? Doesn’t matter either way. The Arbor Oaks Residents’ Committee hasn’t stocked that pond for three years. Never mattered to me. Never mattered to those dumb sonsabitches that stood out there, day in and day out, with fishing poles and limp lines and no bites. Never any biting.
I’ve had enough of this night. A Dino-saur arm comes out of his broth, a hairy trunk making semicircles in the air.
'C’mon over, Phyl-bird.'
Not tonight. I’m heading back to my trailer. Kick another cigar mouthpiece in the middle of the sidewalk. It dribbles into a mossy joint between the cement. Settles after rocking back and forth a few times.
*This was a prompt provided by Charles Parsons of Let's Work With Orphans. "Describe a landscape seen through the eyes of an old woman whose detestable husband has just died. Mention neither the husband nor the death." Give yourself twenty minutes.