Gringo el Guapo
"This is fun," Dwayne says taking my hand. "Why don't we do this more often?" I shrug, letting the roar of plane engines drown out my thoughts. Some things you want to let go of before they settle into a holding pattern. Like the memory of your boss saying "You're too needy and too hesitant," or the news of a stalled marriage.
I grip Dwayne's hand tighter and feel the sand flip up behind me. When we go to the outcropping of rocks, I find a large flat one and sit down to call Grandma. It's Mother's Day.
Dwayne walks to the end of the stoney pier, until he is standing over the waves. The sun burns hot against my neck while Grandma and I chat. "What's all that noise?" she asks.
"Oh, it's a plane going over," I say, pushing my finger in one ear. The waves slap against the rocks blurring with the roar of engines in the sky.
I watch Dwayne kneel down, poking the crevesas, pulling up stones and shells. A handful of other people are milling around the outcropping too.
"Did you go to church today?" I ask.
"Oh, yes, your mother curled my hair for me. She's taking me to Jackson this week to get it cut."
Our conversation rolls on in an easy manner and I wish, for a moment, that I am in her small appartment tucked into the Kentucky mountains. I don't tell her about my job. I ask her, instead, about marriage.
"You know, your grandpa and I had our fare share of troubles," she says "but he was a good husband in his own way," I dip my head and listen closely.
"I'll never forget the last words he said to me."
"What did he say?"
"He was in his bed so sick with cancer and I said to him, 'Forest, I always wanted to be the first to go because I didn't want to live without you.'" Her voice cracks and wobbles, but she keeps going "And he said, 'Well, what do you think I would have done with out you?'"
My heart is tired and I let the sound of waves and planes carry my weariness out to sea. I want something to make me laugh, something to sooth. And from the sea comes my husband. He picks his way back over the massive rocks until he is standing at my feet.
"Did you see those women taking pictures of me?"
My conversation is over with Grandma. She and I have already said "I love you" and "Goodbye." I look up and see two Latino women balancing on the rocks.
"What were they taking pictures of you for?"
"I don't know. They kept giggling and making me stand next to them." Dwayne is half blushing, half laughing, unsure of what to think.
"What did they say?" I ask looking up into his freckled face.
"Gringo el guapo. Gringo el guapo."