Horse Flies and Mermaids

Bullheaded present-day Neanderthal. I commit my body and soul to my work until the project at hand is complete. I wear myself ragged and coat my vision in so much sawdust that I cannot tell the obvious mishap until the project is complete. I’ll spend time with family and take care of myself once the project is over. Until then, I’ll eat vile meals at fast food establishments, thinking I’m doing the right thing because it makes the clock tick in my favor. I’ll pile-drive towards the end goal, blazing through the steps with no caution in regards to my back, my partner, or my tools.

Body. Brain. Family. A list of three items. The only list. Why then are the three items intermixed at the end of a list of dozens of items whose total sum negates those three?

We are getting ready to start a timber frame. I’m designing two kitchens. There is a festival in a month that I need to build a few pieces of furniture for so there will be something in my booth.

Summertime kick it in the teeth pace. The pace is a spillover from last summer though.

I’ve had these desires for obtainable goals from last year and the year before, but I find myself in the same place. Little furniture has been built. No more time given to the family. The dust collector for the shop is collecting dust atop the cardboard packaging it was delivered in. Big things. Small things. All things.

My wife has started a business and turned it into a much so that she is now expanding in grand scale of what she was originally offering a couple months back. I’m still trying to plan out when I’m going to sweep my shop floor from when I created all the dust of ripping material for a fence a couple months back.

I’m approaching forty. Age can be a good tipping point, or crutch, or turning point. What does it matter anyways? I still have the mentality I had when I was twenty.

But when I was twenty, I would run for six miles in the morning, workout, and then get my work done for the day. Now I just say I’m old and chicken wings sure sound good for lunch. A coke or two will get me through the heat of the wings and the rest of the day.

The sun shines on the project we are currently working on. Its cooking the chicken wings for a second time as my stomach lurches with every prod of the shovel. We are leveling out a patio by hand before we start lifting heavy beams in place to become a timber frame pavilion. We work through any sensible planning until we have been completely deprived of energy. We drag our tools back to our trucks, thinking it has to be at least mid afternoon. Its not. Its six in the evening. No phone reception, so no calls from our smarter, loving wives wondering where we are. We get to our respective homes and are too tired to spend time with family. I lay on the floor of my daughter’s room as my wife reads to the children. I listen in while drifting off to sleep.

The next day? Well, its a pretty open book with much the same actions.

Something had to give, and it was time that the giving was not going to be from neglect towards my brain, my body, or my family.

I laced up my shoes and headed out the door with my pup. A few miles were had by fleeting feet, especially when the pooch took sight of the morning doe.

Upon returning to the house, a list was drawn out of what was to be done for the day. I know it in my head, but it just helped write it out to make it happen. I had a subcontractor coming out to the job and I never have subcontractors. You never know what to expect with subcontractors, other than the mess they will leave when they think they are finished. The day went without a hitch. I was home in time to spend time with the family, to grill dinner, to play soccer with the kids, and had enough energy in my eyeballs to read to the kids.

The following day? An awesome repeat. And then another.

Father’s Day arrived. It was spent traveling with the family, but they surprised me by stopping in Richmond and buying me a pair of running shoes. Picking out shoes is a fast experience for me. I go by brand, looks, and then the feel just seems to follow. The transaction process? It was brutal. Small town banks. Even my business cards were declined. The kind fella on the other end of the support and security line was obviously out on a walk with his dog on a Sunday afternoon. I can’t blame him for that. But what I can blame him for is telling me that my cards were declined for security reasons and that they should resume when I return home. We were only four hours by vehicle from our house, in the same state. I travel farther than that every month to pick up wood for the jobs I have. Finally, he gets a security member to take care of it and says that if it works in ten minutes that I should be good for the rest of the day.

I tell him he can stay on the line for the duration of the ten minutes and he can look into me being good for the following week, not just the day. The last time my cards had an issue wasn’t when someone stole my info and bought two flights to Paris along with $500 worth of iTunes. Instead, it was when I bought my wife a pair of Keens in Kauai. I can understand Kauai. I can’t understand Richmond.

We made it to the beach and the following morning I went on a run. My wife told me to be careful of traffic when I left the bed, but at 4:30 in the morning, such a thing is non-existent. Two miles into the run, I was on a small road in a wildlife sanctuary. As the horizon began to lighten, the osprey came out to check on the fool flatfooting by their nest. Pelicans. Plenty of gulls. And then the biting flies. I tried to run through them, out of their territory, but to no avail. Beaten, I turned around and began to run back through the marsh to the first break in the dunes, about a mile up the road. I reached the break and started the sprint towards submersion and serenity but something stopped me before I reached the sea. I thought it was the salt spray on my glasses at first. Then I thought it was a hallucination caused by running with years of inactivity belted to my mid-region.

There were about a dozen Sirens in the dunes making their way to the water. I willingly came to a stop in the deep sand as I tried to make sense of my company. Aferdeite must be going to transform these magnificent mythical creatures into mermaids. I have read about this, but never have I given thought that I would witness it. I have reached Nirvana. Wait, have I? I still feel my pulse. But with my newfound company, my pulse would certainly carry on for minutes after the rest of my body ceases. Hell, I have reached Nirvana no matter what for the pain in my knees has been replaced by teen spirit.

I continue on my way to the water, trying not to swat as manically as I was. The flies are drinking heavily. A man appears over the dune with a black umbrella. There is a flash in the air, and then another one. This heavyset man with the umbrella, I don’t remember his role in the story of Aphrodite.

My dream of the sirens turning to mermaids is quickly bashed as I realize I’m in the middle of a photo shoot. The women are wetting their skin before returning to the dunes to pose. I cup my hands and fill them with the incoming wave. My intent is to save the sirens a step. I reached the dunes with cupped hands, but the water is now in the form of damp sand, trailing behind me. With my empty hands outstretched, I was coming to the realization that I looked like a beggar with a urinary problem.

The flash went off again right when I was looking at the bald man in the umbrella. I turned with my newfound spotted vision and retreated down the dune back to the pavement. I know the speed limit is 15mph around the upcoming turn, but I feel like the meet with the mermaids was a bit awkward. If law enforcement was in the area, I would get pulled over no matter what the speed.

I set into my run. I glance back to see if the flies are following me. I see a figure running behind me in the distance. Its not a race. I’m not in shape. But fuck it, I just witnessed a scantily clad photo shoot and my heart is beating in a competitive fashion. I find a lower gear and hit the gas. A quarter mile deeper down the marshy road, I look back. Not a human to be seen. I continue a bit further until the Osprey gliding overhead has had enough of my company. I turn to head back.

The figure that was trying to catch up to me? It was a sign designating the area.

The Sirens? I don’t know where they went. I scanned the shore. I saw porposing dolphins parallel to the coast, but nothing more. No fluted fins. No turquoise tails.

Once again, I returned to the pavement. This time I took a right towards civilization and headed back. I passed an older gentleman on a bicycle heading towards Nirvana. I nodded my head and waved. He looked down and to the opposite direction. A mile later, I passed a woman and her golden retriever. Both had direct eye contact, but only the retriever waved back. May the dog be saved from the flies. The other two? Hammer down, flies. Hammer down.

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