Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Songs of the rain

Automatic doors shush as bodies come and go, some on legs, others on wheels, some bent, some straight. Rain pelts each in their coming and going, indiscriminate. Shoes squeak on the linoleum that covers the foyer of the hospital. A man sits beneath his green and yellow John Deere hat watching, still wrapped in a light weight tan coat, over a plaid shirt.

My wife is here for an employment fair, unaware that I am waiting to whisk her off to the beach for her birthday. A surprise, a pleasant break just the two of us, for her birthday.

The rain is what starts our conversation, its song against the window lulls us to the edge of sleep, before a laugh spills into a questions of purpose in being here. Over two hours from home, I meet a man who lived on my street, fifteen years ago, since moved. He waits for his parents to be released.

"I met my best friend one night in the parking lot of the apartment complex at the end of our road. He came out of the shadows and landed right in my chest. Dirty and covered in ticks, I cleaned him up. Found the owners a couple weeks later and they wanted me to chain him up out back, so I asked if I could have him. They were more than happy to see him go."

"He was a golden retriever. Hadn't been trained, not house broke.I tell you though, its true, give them one good year and they will give you ten. I trained him up and he was loyal til the day he died."

"When he died I sunk over two thousand dollars trying to find out what was wrong with him. Never could figure it out, but every time I went to see him, he would raise his head at my voice and perk up. He passed a couple years back.We used to do everything together."

"Haven't had the heart to replace him."

His story fills the gaps between us, eyes misting as he remembers his dear friend. He periodically shifts to keep circulation moving in the hard chairs of the waiting room.

"Lynchburg was a great place to live, but a hard place to make a living."

I tell him I understand and we lapse into silence, each watching for those we await. People continue in and out, the door shushes, the rain knocks the window asking to come in.

"Well, there are my parents. It was great talking with you."

You as well, I take his hand, our eyes sharing space for a moment. He adjusts the hat on his head, then joins them. They disappear beyond the blanket of falling rain, leaving me to sit. The black hands continue their jerky movement around the white clock face, each minute a soft click.

There is no great revelation in our meeting, just two humans, strangers no longer, even if ever so briefly. A small note in the grand symphony of life.

written for Imperfect Prose

83 comments:

TechnoBabe said...

What a loving gesture to surprise your wife with a getaway, just you two. You are a sweet husband. I have a sweet husband and I so appreciate him.

Anyes said...

Hospital conversations always seem to get deeper than the ones you have with your neighbours...Why is that?

Brandee Shafer said...

I like that you wrote it down. It would be just the thing one would be apt to forget, and that would be a pity.

Heather said...

maybe a small note in the grand suphony of life, but it seems like a memorable one.
ps- hope you and your mrs. had FUN!

Heather said...

meant to say symphony

kaykuala said...

Brian, a getaway to the beach is just the tonic for a surprise and to be with a loved one beats them all.

Hank

♥ Braja said...

The opening para was a cross between Nurse Jackie and CSi :)

You're a star, Brian...

Nikki Rules said...

Loved the pace to this story. It had air. You know, like as I read it I could breath and enjoy your words...

sheila said...

I love the things found within the random.

Rachel said...

this is so rich. it's like reading a moment in time, captured just as it happened.

life or something like it said...

I love the way you write. You weave such a great story, with such simple truth.

drybottomgirl said...

I treasure moments like this, and sew those memories onto my life quilt. Thank you for the beautiful reminder to appreciate everything....

Eva Gallant said...

Those chance meetings can be so rich. When Mr. Eva was having surgery, I was in the waiting room and had an encounter that I still am grateful for. I must post about it sometime.

Christina - Rant Rave Roll said...

Ok, first of all.... awwww. How sweet.

Funny how a chance moment or meeting can evolve into a story.

happygirl said...

I love the story of your dog. Winter before last, our dog got lost in a snowstorm. I always said I hated that dog. You could build another one just like him from all the hair he shed in a week. But, those 2 days he was lost were the longest of my life. He's still alive, but barely. We won't replace him either. Thanks for this story. Sweet.

Pat Hatt said...

Always interesting when you meet by chance
Even just with a glance
Someone you haven't seen in a while
Unless they are vile
Then suffice to say
I go the other way..haha
Dogs are wonderful companions too
Even if they sometimes eat their own poo..haha

Fred said...

Chance encounters. It is strange how those we once knew eventually, in some way, wind up returning to you. The unexpected conversations that takes place in daily life, in a way, is really what life is all about-in a way. Thanks, great piece

Sue said...

I love it when the members of this family of man remember who they are.

=)

Janice said...

Very touching. The symphony of life is full of surprises, good and not so good. How wonderful to read about one of the good songs. The tale of the golden retriever brought sweet pet memories to my mind.

Mama Zen said...

Great write. It's those moments that keep us human.

Cinner said...

Beautiful Brian, a moment you will probably always remember, a story he needed to tell you.....love how you surprised your wife. smiles.

Sadee Schilling said...

Brian, this is so beautiful. So simple and probably my favorite from what I've read of yours so far! And here's a strange coincidence-my husband has been reminiscing today about our old faithful golden retriever. He rarely dreams, but last night dreamed of Beau and is all choked up today in missing him!

Thanks for visiting my blog today! :)

lori said...

Somehow there is peace in connections both big and small, a chance to remember we're never really alone :) lovely simplicty to your writing today.

rain said...

this brings tears, friend. it's these moments that transform life, but only those with eyes to see, the patience to listen. how many moments have i missed out on, in the rushing? resolving to go slower....

thank you for writing.

Lisa notes... said...

"sharing space for a moment"

Those encounters are God-breathed. Not meant to last forever, but long enough to fulfill their purpose.

Beautiful, Brian.

Ed Pilolla said...

you are a natural at identifying and capturing these small moments of life, which are actually the big moments in many ways, i suspect. when i was in the newspaper biz, writers like you were scary becuz you could write nearly anything onto the front page:)
you are a talented writer, that's clear, but you also have this interpersonal quality in your interactions that make for a rich reflection. few can do it so well.

Pat said...

A chance meeting of an old neighbor. A shared conversation in a waiting room. You captured that moment and shared it with us. Thank you.

Whosyergurl said...

Love this, Brian. You captured an encounter. Love that you surprised your Mrs.
And all wrapped in the symphony of rain. I love rain.
Thanks for this story.
Cheryl

Tara Miller said...

This is one of the many things I love about you - that you take the time and interest to show this gentlemen that he is important, his story is important and someone cares. You created a connection with him if only briefly but I'm sure he won't forget either. And I also enjoyed finding you there waiting for me! <3

Titanium said...

Awwww... there's just no way to follow up Tara's comment, so I'll simply say that she said it best.

Happy Birthday to your lovely wife- and many, many more...

Daniel said...

This post is so you. I know that sounds silly and trite at first. But you seem to melt into the world and become an intricate part of it. You take notice of everyone and everything. Eyes and heart always active. Blessings. I loved this one.

Heaven said...

I like the songs of the rain in the background- a chance meeting retold very clearly.

You have a gift for the details of everyday life and I appreciate your words. Sometimes, when I get a chance to go out and talk to strangers, my writer's mind try to capture their story. It is a skill I am trying to learn..

Thanks for sharing this ~

David Allen Waters said...

a surprise getaway to the beach...perfection! You rock dude :)

JeannetteLS said...

Your writing, Brian... Gets me every time. I do agree that it is these seemingly small moments that create the symphony of each of our lives--the rhythms, counterpoints, secondary themes, everything that enhances our lives and brings them to another level. You wrote it beautifully, yes;for me, it's the fact that you felt the weight of those moments and the need to write about them that gets me the most. Lovely place to stop for dinner time!

She Writes said...

I like moments like this where we just connect. It's nice.

Nezzy said...

I hope your wife knows she's one lucky woman!!! I'm sure she appreciated your grand gesture.

Sometimes it's those chance meetin' that hang in your mind forever.

Have a blessed day!!!

Cinnamon said...

I love these moments of shared humanity.

ells said...

Just the simple things...just being all present right where we are in the moment...love it.
Blessings~

hedgewitch said...

Just living the life and telling the stories. (your prose is getting a lot tighter, btw.) Enjoyed it brian, even after reading enough poetry in the last week to split my brain--very nice to read a simple story well told.

lucychili said...

dogs are powerful people.

Mary said...

Brian, your wife is one lucky woman. I hope she enjoyed her surprise. I also have to say that I understand how your golden retriever was your best friend. My two dogs (you see them on my blog) are my best friends as well. I hope you will replace your deceased golden retriever some time. He would want you to.

Caty said...

great story...i love meeting strangers and just listening to them talk about them :)

Teri said...

I totally get this meeting. I have met the most incredible people in some of the most unusual meeting places. These people feel like friends because we have shared a bit of ourselves; gave them a part of us. It happened to me in an airport; it happened in the cardiologist's waiting room while waiting for my Mom; it happens continuously. And I think that it happens because we love stories and people. We have that in common even though I have never met you face-to-face yet I consider you a friend also. Great writing Brian. And oooohhhh....rain! Please!!!

Lolamouse said...

It's the small notes that all add up to make the symphony. And you are a great observer of all those small notes!

elizabeth said...

Thanks for coming by and for your encouraging comment. Your writing is always captivating. Love it.

Jen said...

Amazing that you met -- God doesn't let anything go to waste. Who knows how the encounter impacted you, him? Perhaps the depth is just not discovered yet.

Amanda @ wandering said...

So wonderful the way people will tell someone about their lives if a person will just listen. Beautiful moment.

Kateri said...

Reminds me of conversations I would have with other travelers in my greyhound bus days. Something about waiting and bad weather--that brings people together.

Magpie said...

I love the songs of rain...in all their forms.
"There is no great revelation in our meeting, just two humans, strangers no longer," This part of this line is how I feel about my blogging friends...it's a wonderful thing to share...hopefully more than just a note...a complete symphony. :)

Claudia said...

nice..i'm a big fan of these random conversations, taking place with people at the edges of our usual life - often makes one think or gives a new impulse..

adeeyoyo said...

It is special to connect with another, even for such a brief while. Affirmation of each one's existence?

Lorraine said...

you are a sweetie indeed, you are a wonderful writer, and I couldn't replace my German Sheppard either

Valerie said...

Passing strangers, strangers no more. Loved this, Brian, you certainly held my attention throughout.

Zuzana said...

I really loved this one. A brief encounter, a moment in time, so very emotionally loaded and so out of place, yet so memorable it inspired you to write this.
Hope you enjoyed the beach.;))
xoxo

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

Just two people.. and talks lead us to so many places :)

Lovely piece.
Have a nice time with your wife :)

ladyfi said...

I don't know why - but this moved me to tears. So beautiful and yet sad.

Maggie May said...

That was a lovely piece and it was quite moving.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Christine said...

meeting strangers, connecting on a personal level, then departing, how true that these moments stay with us, it makes us alive in this world of billions

liza said...

I love how you still love to play! Fun day at the beach, indeed, with some small and meaningful banter to boot.

wolfsrosebud said...

Not sure about the rain, but you did capture it well. Loved the dog... my golden says "Hello" and don't be afraid to attach to another like a tick. There's something in the blood of a faithful friend.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Brian,

So many interesting things you narrated in one post. You are a keen observer of people and things around you. I was very touched to read the story of your golden retriever. Both of you had a great bond.

Best wishes,
Joseph

the walking man said...

Yeah brother encounters are that way. sometimes they pass, ships at sea and others, full of ticks and needs and last a lifetime.

Kat_RN said...

Yup, you got it right, again.
Kat

Slamdunk said...

Writing this down (as you do so well) has certainly inspired me and others to remember the chance meetings in life that have shaped us.

Excellent Brian.

Old Ollie said...

Nice - do more of these - dig the style.

ayala said...

A reminder that we are not alone...I used to have conversations with people in the hospital when my parents were there...it seems there are connections made when we don't expect them. I love the dog story...my short hair passed away last year which was so sad...my Labrador missed her so much...she didn't even come to sit in the kitchen while we ate (which she loves to do). I enjoyed this, Brian :)

Madhulika said...

it was really sweet :) :)
You are a great hubby :)

Kate Hanley said...

So great to surprise your wife like that and the story is so touching. Your line about a small note in the symphony of life is so true. During one of my voice lessons I kept sliding over a note that I couldn't reach and my teacher kept saying: no you have to sing every note right not just the ones you want to.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

I love these connections to strangers...yet friends.

Hilary said...

You freeze moments in time, and give them meaning like no other. Beautiful telling of this encounter.

LadyCat said...

Happy and sad at the same time. So much of life is bittersweet.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
"The black hands continue their jerky movement around the white clock face, each minute a soft click."
Your poem is very descriptive...

"There is no great revelation in our meeting, just two humans, strangers no longer, even if ever so briefly. A small note in the grand symphony of life."
Your poem is very touching...too!
Thanks, for sharing your very brief moment with a stranger no longer!

deedee ;-D

Baino said...

I love these random meetings. So often we're afraid to talk to strangers or become absorbed in our own space. Only $2,000? Gawd, I've spent $6,000 on two new knees for my labrador over the past 4 years. Eeek. No wonder I'm impoverished.

lifeisaroadtrip said...

Rain makes a great accompaniment to any story - and the small revelations are the great ones.

Shelly Miller said...

Brian, thanks for leaving a comment on my post this morning. Enjoyed reading your post as well. Nice to meet you here.

emily wierenga said...

this is what life is all about, no? the ordinary making extraordinary... angels in our midst. beautiful telling, brian.

Goofball said...

I can totally picture you sitting there, listening & bonding. Very nice

Myrna R. said...

Nice moment to share. Your writing is so vivid, I feel like I was there watching you. Hope you had a great little trip.

Vicki Lane said...

Some lovely moments come unexpectedly.

william said...

awe your very romantic bud, a getaway in paradise, good times.

missing moments said...

Beautifully written ... always a joy to stop by. Congrats on Hilary's POTW!

Kerry said...

Brian, this goes straight to my heart. Every bit of it. Especially the empathy of yours, for the man without the dog, waiting for different reasons, in a hospital.

Barbara Shallue said...

You're exactly right - small conversations like this are what connect us all and keep us human. Thank you for sharing it with us! Congrats on the POTW!