Today’s Theme Music

With the thermometers teasing one hundred four degrees, I was returning home in the car. The DJ said, “This song is about air conditioning.”

Air conditioning? I puzzled what he could mean.

He continued, “This is “Need You Tonight.” With this weather as hot as it is, they have to be referring to air conditioning.”

Here it is, INXS, from nineteen eighty-seven.

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Feels Like…

I was checking the temperature for our area via Wunderground. It said, “104.3 F.” Underneath, it said, “Feels like 78 F”.

We wondered where they were, that they were so optimistically cool.

 

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The Spiral

It’d been a rotten day. Crew show wasn’t early, eight A.M., but nothing had gone right. Maintenance problems undermined plans.

Away at Sigonella, they spent hours broiling on the flightline while trouble with a GTC was tracked down and resolved. By then, they had to abort their primary mission. Though it was beyond his control, he felt responsible. A secondary mission of overwater navigation training was taken on, six hours of droning over the Med, then through the STROG and over the Atlantic, and up Europe’s coast. Matching the day’s tone, thunderstorms pushed them to change those plans and find the most direct path home. Between the flying time and debrief, he got home at ten that night.

He wasn’t expected, of course. They were supposed to be out two more days, but that GTC issue terminated that plan, so here he was.

The house was weirdly dark. Entering, he found his wife in the bedroom, with another man.

He knew the other man as her friend, Curt. She was in bed. Curt was clothed, but on the floor beside her. She leaped out of bed. She was in the sweat clothes she usually wore to bed. Curt’s watch was on the nightstand, beside an unopened condom package.

Coming to him, she hugged him. “It’s not what you think,” she said. “It’s not what you think.”

He didn’t have thoughts. He couldn’t answer.

“What are you doing home?” she asked.

“Aircraft problems,” he answered. Turning, he picked up his car keys and left, going to the club for a drink.

He stayed there for a while.

She explained the next morning that Curt was just visiting. She was cold, so she’d put on her sweats and went to bed to stay warm. They were just making jokes about the condom.

He didn’t say a word. He didn’t know if he believed her.

It wasn’t visible for twenty years, but that’s where the spiral began, he saw. Now he was so far down in it, he didn’t see any way up.

Trust

Alan had a dream. He often corrected himself, calling it a “visitation,” when he shared it with others.

It wasn’t Alan’s first visitation with the dead. Others had come back to tell him something they thought he needed to hear them. The first came when he was seventeen. A dead aunt visited, warning him that his uncle was preparing to pass. Uncle Paul was his favorite, taking Alan on a fishing vacation every summer in an act of empathy that Alan didn’t appreciate for decades. Uncle Paul was so young, just forty-two, when he died of a heart attack while getting an Iron City beer from the frig. A Steeler game was on television. He wasn’t missed for almost a quarter. It was too late by then, back in that era. A snow storm was bruising the city, and the ambulance couldn’t get through.

There’d been other visitations since, but Granny’s visitation was one of the strongest, perhaps because he’d developed a comfort level with them by then. She’d only been dead for ten years, dying in nineteen ninety-six, a month short of one hundred years, yet, there she was, in one of her voluminous blue and white flowered dresses, in his room, accompanied by the smells from talcum powder and coffee. From Alan’s first memory on, she announced, “Let me make a pot of coffee, and we’ll sit awhile,” whenever his family visited her.

Addressing him in a stern but kind voice, she said. “Let Barbara do what she needs to do.”  Not permitting time for a response, she was immediately gone.

On awakening, Alan thanked Granny for the visitation. It took a morning of thought through two large mugs of coffee before he accepted what she was telling him. Though it was probably going to pain him, he’d let Barbara do what she needed to do, whatever the hell that meant. He would just have to trust Barbara.

Really, he was trusting two people, if you think about it, maybe three.

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