Friday, July 02, 2010

“Hamglaze & Coffee”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is truth with a twist of artistic license. Read it as you would a good comic book or cereal box.

It was a quiet Monday evening at the grocery store in Chardon.

After visiting with my sister and her family, I had intended to do a bit of shopping before returning to the Geauga hinterland.

But after selecting two kinds of Gatorade and some vegetables, a familiar voice sang out from one of the register lanes.

“I’ve got coupons here somewhere,” the frugal woman said. “Just a minute…”

My eyes narrowed from the bright glow of her crimson headwear. It was Carrie Hamglaze, my long-time journalistic cohort.

“Let’s see,” she huffed, while digging through her oversized purse. “Pocket Constitution, Kleenex, aspirin, fundraising letter from John Kasich…”

The cashier on duty exuded patience. She waited courteously as my friend rattled off a personal inventory of miscellaneous stuff.

“Forget the coupons,” I exclaimed at last. “They’ll only save you a few pennies.”

She stopped digging in her handbag. “Bite your tongue! How else can we expect to survive in post-bailout America?”

“Sorry,” I grinned. “So, how have you been?”

“Frazzled!” she admitted.

“We need to have a cup of coffee sometime,” I said.

Carrie reacted like she had been bitten by a mosquito. “Coffee! Yes! Meet me at Get Go after you’re done shopping.”

“What, now?” I babbled with surprise.

“See you in a couple of minutes!” she cheered.

Suddenly, I was alone with my grocery cart.

After a breezy jog through the aisles, I made a quick purchase. Then, it was time to run across town for some genuine conversation!

Carrie had already gotten a cup of Bergamot tea when I arrived. She was at a table by the front windows.

“Come and sit with me,” she said. “This is my place. Everyone knows me here.”

I nodded submissively. A first cup of fresh coffee helped clear my thoughts.

“So, what have you been writing about lately?” she asked, while sorting more coupons.
My beverage offered quick relief. “A couple of weeks ago, I finally interviewed the staff at Thompson Center Market. It was a project I’d been trying to finish since March… then, I stopped at The Next Level in Chardon. That was another story idea I’d been tripping over for a long time.”

She smiled with approval. “And in between, UFO sightings, continued harassment from Mr. X, and more bologna recipes?”

I was stunned. “Well, yes…”

She laughed out loud.

“But, what about you?” I asked.

Carrie breathed a sigh. “My older brother, Flatt, had heart bypass surgery,” she confessed. “That’s had me thinking more about the importance of proper eating.”

I shuddered. “Let me guess… lots of fruit?”

“If it has eyes or a mouth, you don’t put it on your dinner plate,” she proclaimed.

I tried to change the subject. “Well anyway, what have you been writing?”

She brightened while thinking. “I’ve had a book proposal in mind lately. ‘Trees If You Please’ or something like that…”

“Trees?” I stammered.

“Yes!” she declared. “A collection of tree tales and poetry. Stories of the Trouble Tree, Christmas Tree, and maybe an old oak tied with a yellow ribbon.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Well, that’s an original idea, for sure…”

Carrie took out a scrap of paper, and began to read lyrics penned by Thomas Paine in 1775:

“In a chariot of light from the regions of day,
The Goddess of Liberty came;
Ten thousand celestials directed the way,
And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
And the plant she named Liberty Tree.”

I was nearly speechless as she finished.

“The book would contain references like that,” she promised. “I envision a sort of anthology based on tree history and culture.”

“Sounds like a great read,” I said breathlessly.

“Flatt is living near the University of Virginia,” she boasted. “He has so many creative influences at the moment. We talk of doing other volumes about art, music, and pop icons. Every time he calls, it’s something new.”

I pondered having so much creative energy.

“Don’t you have any book projects in the works?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Not right now.”

Carrie squawked with disbelief. “Nothing?”

“No,” I said. “Life has become about survival. There is no time for anything else.”

She snorted impatiently. “Rod, writing is survival! It keeps your spirit strong.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “True enough. But lately, I’ve been searching for my ‘voice’ once again. I write columns, and then almost feel glad when they don’t run.”

She was puzzled.

“Is that a shocking admission?” I said.

“No,” she answered politely. “Every wordsmith strikes a stone with his plow now and then. It’s just a matter of persistence. You should know that already.”

“Yes,” I agreed.

“So, how about a bologna cookbook?” she chirped. “Add short vignettes and poems in between.”

I nearly spilled my coffee.

“Maybe you could get the CEO of Oscar Mayer to write an introduction,” she suggested.

I slumped in my chair, laughing.

“No, really!” she said emphatically.

My cup was empty. And it was long after dark.

“Gotta run, my friend,” I apologized. “Thanks for the ideas. Will I see you at the Geauga Writer’s Roundtable next month?”

“Of course!” she promised.

I bowed gracefully, and headed for the door.

“Keep writing!” she shouted from behind. “Write, write, write everything you can!”

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