When Percy and Starr aren't Sailing
What do my principal characters drive? I’m sure that’s what you want to know.
Well, Percy drives his Ford F-150, about seven years old, with around 125,000 miles
and some body wear due to it just being Maine and therefore due to the winter road
salt. In its youth, his truck was white, but age has dimmed its brighter coloration,
making it more ivory, and some rust edging has appeared recently around the rear
Also – poor guy – like me – he has needed to replace both rear struts. This was
precipitated when he was driving north of Waldoboro on 220, near Globe, on a late
afternoon in mosquito time, and the worst noise he had ever heard from a suspension
came out of the back of his truck.
He pulled over near a lonely and dilapidated farm and asked the old man running a
push mower over his grass if he might use the man’s phone to call for a tow. Percy had
no cell connection. The old man wore a sleeveless, baggy, and off-white undershirt
over ratty khaki pants. He was hesitant about allowing this intrusion into his home. He
said that his wife was sick.
But, after the two of them discussed the unfortunate state of the New England Patriots
without Brady, the man allowed as how it might just be all right, if Percy were not asking
to stay inside out of the bugs. Percy was not asking for that, so he was shown into the
house, the phone was on the wall in the hallway, and the wife, wearing an exhausted
house dress, was lying on couch cushions before a small black and white TV. She
waved tiredly to Percy, while her husband hovered nearby, apparently to make certain
the call was actually to Triple-A, and then he ushered Percy back outside but refreshed
him with a glass of water.
The tow took an hour to arrive. Percy was nearly eaten to death by the time it did.
On the other hand, Starr drives a bright red Nissan Altima, nearly new, with relatively
low mileage. She keeps the car clean and polished. Nobody much in Maine has a
garage (except suburbanites near Portland), but most people have barns. Starr has a
barn. It’s old and little used except by her Altima and by whatever flights of swallows
and yellow jackets have found comfort under its eaves.
One especially nice fixture of the barn is its swing.
The swing is a plank which hangs on two long cobwebby ropes from the rafters and,
when not being used, is hung casually on a nail. The barn has a set of wide doors
which swing open on any sunny, windy day, doors which are anchored with rocks so
they won’t swing back shut. If you want to swing, you can take the plank off its nail,
position it behind your bottom, and walk backward into the shadowed interior of the barn
until the ropes become taunt and are at a long, shallow angle. Clasp the ropes tight, lift
your feet, and you zoom forward on a long acceleration until you pass the vertical of
your ropes – and then you burst forward into the sun and air, at a great speed, and are
propelled forward and up, up, up!
If you pump, you can go even higher up! You’re in the sky!
Starr is in the sky right now, if you are delightedly watching at the moment. A great
excited shriek emerges from her, and her hair is loose, and her dress flutters back away
from her straightened knees, revealing her thighs, and her eyes glitter, and her face is a
round yellow sun!
Again, and again, come the strokes of her swing. Higher and higher! Faster and
faster! With louder and louder yells of delight!
Until she tires, and she slows her strokes, and she ceases to pump, and she hangs,
eventually, out of breath, giggling and delighted at the lowest position of the swing.
“Percy,” she glows, “you’ve got to try it.”
“Too scary,” he demurs.
“Oh, don’t be such an old poof!”
“The rope might break.”
“It’s fifteen years since the girls were young. The rope has never broken. Anyway, Don
changed it every few years.”
“Well, I’m not going to do it. I’ll sit out there on your car’s hood and just watch you.”
Starr stood up shakily from off the plank and walked over to him. She stopped and ran
her splayed fingers through both sides of her thick gray hair, pulling it up and off her
neck and away from her cheeks. “Whew,” she sighed. “That felt so good!”
“I have beer in the cooler in my truck.”
“I’ll take one,” she replied with a smile. “And a kiss.”
“C’mere,” he responded, and she pressed herself against him and looked up his chest
at his face.
Now, he ran his splayed fingers up her cheeks and into her hair behind and over her
ears and gripped it in fistsful and grasped the back of her head and tipped it back in his
grip. He loved the fresh wind smell of her skin and her hair and her brow with its slight
Their kiss stopped the sun from spinning.
Elizabeth does not have a vehicle, except her sailing cutter Little Bear. Without a car of
her own, and while channeling Blanche DuBois, Elizabeth might have murmured to
Percy or to Starr, “I have always relied upon the kindness of strangers.”
That’s what she might have said when she called Percy frantically that night when he
had been about to head over for Starr’s (and it’s she might have said if she had wanted
to sound like Vivian Leigh). That’s when she had pled with Percy to come shield her
from the boat burning.
Love you all. And I’m grateful. Keep reading!
All good books always get better!
They can’t help themselves!
You like EGG ISLAND – Death is Your Choice?
Think ahead to DOWNEAST – This Blessed Assurance.
They can’t help themselves get better.
Bet you’re going to want to review that one too!