Friday, April 22, 2011

“Get Go, And Gone”


c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(4-11)




It was a cool night in Chardon. After a happy visit with my sister and her family, I had paused at Giant Eagle to buy groceries before heading home. My last need was to fill the fuel tank of my pickup truck. Quietly, I wished that the day had already ended. Yet the glowing oasis of Get Go beckoned with colorful lights and echoing music.

Rubbing my eyes, I turned toward that friendly gasoline depot on Center Street.

The station wasn’t crowded at such a late hour. Only a couple of other vehicles were at the pumps. With satisfaction, I realized that my stop would be brief.

Then, I spied a small, white car near the store. It was covered with bumper stickers, one of which read ‘I love polka music.’

A smile spread across my face. By sheer coincidence, I had crossed paths with Carrie Hamglaze.

After filling up, I circled back toward the side parking lot for a spot near their entrance. The night air was brisk. Curiously, ‘Come On, Eileen’ by Dexys Midnight Runners echoed from the loudspeakers.

Suddenly, I felt fully awake.

“Rodneyyyy!” my friend cheered loudly, as I walked inside. “How are you?”

“Hello, Carrie,” I replied, with a touch of embarrassment. “Wasn’t this the last place I saw you… in November?”

“Yes!” she laughed. “I’m here almost every day.”

Rhonda Ronk, a bubbly clerk at the cash register, nodded her head in agreement.

“It’s true,” she said. “Carrie is like one of the family.”

“We should go out for dinner somewhere,” I insisted. “Perhaps at the New York Deli?”

“Closed!” she proclaimed. “I’m not sure what happened there. A window sign said thanks for fifteen years of memories.”

“Closed?” I stammered.

“Closed,” she sighed. “Closed, closed, closed.”

I bowed my head. “Still, there are other places to go. Perhaps a good fish fry around town?”

“Get Go is where I hold court,” she laughed. “This is a bustling place populated with everyday people. Where better to take the pulse of Geauga County?”

“Okay,” I surrendered. “In that case, how about a cup of coffee?”

Rhonda gestured from the counter. “I’m brewing Irish Breakfast Tea for Carrie…”

“Isn’t it late for a breakfast tea?” I wondered out loud.

“With a kiss of the shamrock, it doesn’t matter!” my friend observed. “Lighten up, Rodney.”

“Well then,” I coughed. “What have you been doing lately?”

Carrie brightened. “I met Governor Kasich at the Rock Hall on Lake Erie. That was a fantastic experience.”

My hot beverage was fresh and tasty. “Yes, I read about it in the Maple Leaf.”

“So,” she prodded. “What about you?”

“Nothing so dramatic,” I confessed. “My latest project has hit a snag. It was supposed to be a book of poetry and lyrics inspired by the work of California guitarist Davie Allan. But I need more material…”

“Focus on your task,” she insisted, while stirring her tea.

My face reddened. “That’s what I need to do… but self-discipline has been elusive. I have several projects in mind, like a book with Cleveland music hero Dennis Chandler. But I haven’t been able to organize anything.”

“Rodney!” she squawked. “I am surprised at you. Get that pen moving!”

“Yes,” I promised. “Very soon…”

Without warning, she exploded in a burst of excitement and steaming Irish Tea.

“I KNOW WHAT YOU NEED!” she shouted.

Rhonda stiffened at her cash register. “Are you okay, Carrie?”

“YOU NEED YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT!” she babbled.

I was stunned. “What??”

“Your Christmas present,” she said. “It has been waiting on my front porch since December. Didn’t you get my messages?”

“It’s April, Carrie,” I observed.

“So,” she squeaked. “Who’s fault is that? You have to get it right now!”

“Now?” I wheezed.

“Right now!” she commanded. “Follow me home, Rodney!”

Rhonda waved with a giggle. “Well then, good night, everybody!”

Carrie was already out the door by the time I had picked up my coffee. Her car was a streaking blur of white in the road. Our drive across town took only a minute. I parked by the ramp to her front porch.

Before I could speak, she produced a long bag from Marc’s.

“Merry Christmas, my friend,” she said.

It was an Elvis clock, shaped like an electric guitar.

“Carrie!” I beamed. “What a great gift. I don’t know what to say. Thank you!”

“Say it’s a good omen,” she whispered.

“Yes, indeed,” I replied.

“Now get back to your writing, Rodney,” she said forcefully. “No excuses!”

“Thank yuh,” I said with a made-up southern drawl that evoked the spirit of Presley himself. “Thank yuh very much!”

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