Lindy sat on her rusty garden swing and contemplated how even on the hottest of these summer nights, her bed felt so cold and empty. She missed the warmth of another body, the soft sleep-breathing, the ripple as they rolled over. More than the love-making, it was the comfort. The closeness.
Sighing, she scuffed her shoe in a swirl of dirt, and the swing squeeched and lurched forward again. She’d inherited the house after caring for her grandmother. Sanctuary. Now convent.
“I’ve got some WD40, I’ll be right back,” a disembodied male voice from the abandoned yard next door startled her. “Hearing voices, great” she thought, the crazy woman with the empty bed.
“Got it! Now . . . “
She’d play along with her imaginary friend, “You’ll need it to get the gate between the properties to open.” After a few handyman noises, the gate jerked open, and he stepped through the thick, tall hedge dividing the properties. He was ordinary looking, except for his deeply weathered face and what Lindy called flint-spark eyes.
He looked at her yard with approval. No lawn or manicured flower beds, or exotic vegetable plantings. Wild flowers over ran all except for a small water garden, several bird baths, and a stone pathway.
“My grandmother would be mortified, of course,” Lindy said. The neighbourhood of small houses with long narrow backyards once ripe with tomatoes, eggplant, grape and bean vines. Gentrification was hit and miss. Next door had been empty for at least 6 years; subprime and all that.
“May I,” he said gesturing to the swing. More handyman sounds, then – the swing was sounding and acting at least 10 years younger.
“Thanks. I’m Lindy,” she said holding out her hand. “Rafe,” he said with a strong clasp after wiping his hands on jeans as weathered as his face.
“Moving in?,” Lindy asked tentatively. She really didn’t want a neighbour family. Not right now.
Rafe hesitated, but then someone with a wildflower meadow for a backyard would understand. “No, some guerrilla gardening* – milkweed for the monarchs – see you’ve got some, for the pollinators, nasturtium, butterfly weed and, of course, black magic woman.”
“Black magic woman?” Lindy asked.
“What I call black-eye-Susans,” Rafe explained, a faint blush beneath the tan. “They can grow like magic, and I have fond memories of the Peter Green and early Fleetwood Mac.”
Lindy flashed one of her rare smiles, “For me, it’s Carlos Santana.” For an awkward moment or two they stood, Lindy hands behind back, knuckles white. And Rafe, hands shoved in his pockets, and rocking on the balls of his feet.
“I I won’t don’t want let you thanks for back to need any water maybe a I have a bucket later.” They both spoke a layered conversation.
Knuckles even whiter, stigmata in her palms from her fingernails, Lindy tumbled, “If you get thirsty, I have some hard cider. If you drink, I mean hard stuff, I mean. . . It’s pure pear.”
Rafe stopped his perpetual motion. “Pear is the best,” he smiled, those flint-spark eyes snapping. Lindy had a feeling that some night soon her bed wouldn’t be so lonely. Both were humming “Black Magic Woman” the rest of the afternoon.
Thanks, Pat, for your incredible run as co-host. For absolutely mind-boggling and stretching prompts, detailed and amazing comments, and for giving me a break I really needed, so I didn’t get completely broken.
So, for Pat (& Michael, of course) here is my word association for Black Magic Woman, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Tale Weaver #74
*”Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilize, such as an abandoned site, an area that is not being cared for, or private property.” Wikipedia. Image: HGTV on Pinterest.
Peter Green & Fleetwood Mac Black Magic Woman 1968
Carlos Santana, Peter Green, Black Magic Woman 1998 live (originally recorded song in 1970)
Mick Fleetwood Blues Band Live Black Magic