Surreal Vision

A very pleasant late afternoon driving home. Riding in the Gator sedan with Greta in the left hand seat, Jack as co-pilot. A little controlled breeze from the sunroof swirling as it exited a slightly open right rear window. Delightful.

An exquisite meal at Watershed earlier with communion. Chianti, artisan bread with the Baruch, Ashem, Adonai toast at the end. On the deck overlooking the Osceola Creek. The rapids burbling and rushing below. Perfect.

Gator and Greta dressed to the ‘nines’ and being themselves as they enjoyed ‘eating out’ with a bit more class than the nearby burger joint up the hill. A few conversations overheard as a gifted raconteur regaled his table well. Stories loud enough to somewhat enjoy. He was enjoying himself anyway. Don’t we all do that at times? Grace.

Driving home, commenting on the beauty of the homes visible. Two story with carpenters lace and porches, some with widows walks and many flowering bushes and perfect accouterments. A river town built right. There was a lot of traffic but jake braking was forbidden, the noise of the vehicles would just be a small rushing inside. They could envision living there but without the other buildings, the maple trees and gardens. It would not be the same. Next window neighbors is the price for being able to walk downtown for nice things.

As they drove by a Friday night concert in another town on the river, Jack was suddenly transfixed. There were a lot of people on lawn chairs, watching a stage below them. The band was just getting started as they slowly drove by. Heading north of highway 8 to their exquisite farmstead. The opening notes where immediately recognized by Jack as Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom prison blues’ As the first lines began to fade the transition to old memories and surrealism.

Stuck in a prison vs living in the lap of luxury and just enjoying an old ballad that was never and will never be part of those listeners reality. Home to toast and honey afterwards. Driving a car or truck home without fear and without the air on for a change. “what’s in the fridge honey? Or should we go out?” More pretty swell homes overlooking the river and soon after, a half dozen trucks with boat trailers at the landing. Nice boats on the river. Perhaps fishing or just cruising on a swell night. Are you getting the picture?

We are millionaires in the world’s eyes and are worried about our 401k accounts. When our brief lives end, there is the auction with collectibles and coins. Antiques and machinery of all sorts. Not worth as much as when it was purchased, but hey, enough to pass on to the next family collector of wealth. Usually. Gator is not ranting about our wealth, not at all. His family is ‘doing well’ or as the usual greeting: “Hey, how are ya? I”m good” The usual banter when often Jack cannot remember the person’s name. We are good. Back to the concert and the old memories. “Stuck in Folsom prison and time keeps draggin’ on..”

Jack was recently in a men’s Bible study with a couple of dozen men around the tables. There was talk of jail ministries and suddenly, Jack asked the men: “Any of you guys ever done time? Even overnight for a minor infraction or a mistake by the police?” Those guys looked at Jack in an interesting way. The way perhaps someone is gazed upon when they are not wearing the right clothing or none at all.

Jack spent only a half a year in a Marine Red Line Brig in Southern Spain. Hard labor. It had it’s moments. We all marched double time to the mess hall and one of the guys had to bring that ubiquitous metal tray with food for the guard on duty. It was covered with an identical tray to keep the food warm. All the guys flipped the trays when running. It was a way to get back a bit for a ‘dance’ in the isolation cell. It was really satisfying when the meal was mashed potatoes with gravy and shortcake. The term ‘Red line brig’ means if one of the ‘re-trainees’ stepped over the red line painted on the entry way floor, the duty guard was free to shoot you with his trusty 1911. No one tested the resolve of the door guard. Actually some of the guards were bored out of their gourd and would chat a bit. It wasn’t too bad, really. Southern Spain gets a little warm in the summer when your shoveling sand or running a swing blade. The sleep deprivation and water to wake you up every hour for three days and nights was a bit over the top too. Just a little welcome courtesy to show you around the place. And of course, put you in your place.

In some ways it made Jack have some empathy for the prisoners he would minister to much later in his life. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

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