For the dog, not me. I’m for the cheap wine, with some occasional gin in the warmer months. See, for example, my recent post on Instagram (@machciv). The story below follows immediately on that from my last blog post; I’d seen all of it, but was just too tired. Bad news at work, bad news at home… it piles up. Instead, let’s have three friends drink tea and nibble cookies on a rainy, Portland, Sunday afternoon!
“Sounds like a tiny motorcycle!” Nancy said, surprised.
“It is,” Nichole replied, standing. “It belongs to someone very special!”
Slower, Nancy stood as well, hearing her young friend go out her front door just as the motor’s sound stopped. Looking out her storm door at how she held the young man even before he could dismount, Nancy smiled.
Even in the ruins, love!
She finally let him get off his bike but stayed glued to his side as they walked up from the street. Nancy opened the door.
“Welcome, friend of a friend!”
Uncertain, Nancy saw him just glance at his girl before extending his hand.
“Gil Haven. Thank you for your invitation,” he took a breath, “Mrs. Brunelli.”
“Thank you for coming all this way! I so rarely have visitors anymore!” She let go of his hand and looked over his shoulder. “Didn’t know there was much left for private transport anymore!”
“I do all the maintenance myself, including fabbing parts in a machine shop if I must,” he said with a glance back. “She’s taken good care of me so I take care of her.”
They both looked at Nichole.
Confused? Nancy wondered.
Pissed. Shit. Gil saw.
“How,” he began quickly before things escalated, “did the sailors on your ship refer to it?”
“Huh?” The mention of Kongo surprised her. “Oh. Of course!”
Gil breathed a sigh of relief. Even the heavens smiled as a single ray of sunlight broke through the clouds to fall on the river to the east.
“Well, let’s not just stand here! Come in, come in!” Nancy held the glass door while waving the two kids inside.
The stream of little snacks seemed endless and his cup was refilled without his ever asking. Mrs. Brunelli – “call me Nancy!” – wanted to know about everything: his classes, his spare time…
“A swimmer! That’s why you’re so fit!” as she poured more tea.
…even what he thought he might be doing once he graduated.
“That’s, actually, where I just came from: Ludlum Electric, across the river in Clackamas, in their old industrial park,” he replied to her question. “They’ve some CNC milling machines that the campus Maintenance Shop doesn’t, so I was making some spare parts before I came over.”
“For ‘her?’” Nichole asked darkly. She enjoyed watching him shudder.
“One, yes,” he reached into an interior pocket of his jacket and pulled out a short, fluted metal cylinder and placed it onto the table. “Dave, a guy in my building, needed a new cylinder for his pistol.”
“Since it’s a friend of his that distills the alcohol I put into my bike, it was a fair trade,” he took another drink of tea and wondered if he’d sleep tonight.
“Ah, the second part of the mystery! I’d wondered how you fueled… her!” Nancy enjoyed seeing Nichole’s consternation at that word. “And, what is her name?”
Gil saw his beloved’s hands lower to either side of her. The sound could have been the house creaking or her teeth grinding together. He really didn’t want his bike broken…
“Things never, ah, actually got that far,” he tried rubbing the top of Nichole’s head, knowing how she liked that. “Why don’t you think of a name?”
“Harlot!” they both heard very faintly.
“Jezebel seems a bit harsh,” Nancy broke in, “so how about Rahab, instead?”
She could see neither of the youngsters had the slightest idea. What did they teach in schools these days? Nancy sat back and took a sip of her tea.
“Rahab,” Gil echoed.
“Rahab,” Nichole rumbled, “better know her place!”
“Well, now! Since that’s under your boyfriend, you’d better try much, much harder!” Nancy was laughing so hard a bit of cookie fell out of her mouth.
Nichole’s scowl melted into a genuine smile as she reached across the little table to take the old woman’s right hand. She also updated her definitions.
“You have made my older about faith, Nancy,” she smiled.
“Oh, and how did I work this miracle?” she asked.
“I now understand what a ‘blessing’ is.” With her right she reached to hold Gil’s. “I’ve been surrounded by them and didn’t even know!”
“Wonderful!” Nancy stood. “Shall I make more tea…?”
Gil notice his hands were already shaking from the caffeine. He stood as well.
“Thank you, but no. We need to get back.”
“Of course!” The old woman’s eyes narrowed. “Your place or hers?”
“Mine!” Nichole announced quickly. “I can’t let Rahab win, so there’s something new I want to try!”
Nancy was pleased that even this polite young man remembered to blush.
“What?” she was curious. “You are both my friends, true? It’s not as if I was describing in detail that I’m going to – ”
“Thank you again!” he shouted, pushing Nichole out ahead of him. Hearing the storm door swing shut, Nancy laughed on and on.
“My!” she wiped at her eyes. “That’s more fun than I’ve had in forever!”
She heard the bike start as she walked to the door. As they pulled off, her young friend was glued to his back, arms tight about him. Her smile fell a little.
“Sorry, Johnny; there’s nothing that will separate those two…”
“That went better than – HEY!” Gil was surprised as Nichole reached from behind him on the bike and put her left hand down his pants and began messing about.
“I want,” she said, her cool lips on his left ear, “you to only think of me when you’re on her!”
Her? Oh: Rahab. Mmm… even in jeans her fingers were adept enough that he had no choice but to react to her touch.
“I’ve never, not once, seen you jealous before!” He shouted to the breeze as they rode north.
“I’ve never seen you address another machine before!” She licked the ear she spoke into. “It surprised me too!”
A machine? She would view a motorbike as a rival but not a human woman? Knowing what she could detect, he neither sighed nor shook his head.
“So did you really want to go back to your place?”
The fingers of her left paused while her right hand crept up his chest to his neck.
“Oh, yes… I hope I don’t hurt you!” Another lick. “It’s going to be a looong afternoon, my love!”