A Love Story --- Crazy as a Loon

A Love Story – Crazy as a Loon

Somewhere near an enchanted pond, just as the moon was waxing high and full and reflecting marvelously inside dark shadowy water, a loon stretched out his neck and cleared his throat.  The downy feathers around his beak quivered and suddenly, his eyes sparked brightly.  They lit up like the radiance in untried wishing stars, newborn stars that gleam so wonderfully they are hard for true romantics to overlook, gentle stars that peek out over the edge of sundown like inquisitive little eyes, spick and span stars that flash like a sheriff’s badge at the exact instant he disappears into the sunset after saving the day.  Abruptly, the loon closed his eyes and his beak opened wide; his tongue vibrated, his throat shuddered, his feathers fluttered wildly, vigorously he called out, loudly, a warble that rose high, high above the leg scratching cricket symphony that surrounded him, soared over the bullfrogs’ booming chorus that accompanied it; it was a trill that rode air currents like flying cotton seeds looking for fresh soil, a big chirrup that somehow made it over the cool jazz of Buster Johnson’s “Bit of the Blues Band”, and even a little beyond that. 

Floating above the clarinet, the bass, the piano, the drums, the guitar, the loon’s voice drifted lofty and lucid, sailing as if on an angel’s wings, moving like Gabriel on his way to herald the Apocalypse.  Then it dove down quickly, like an osprey after a fish on the wing, flying chock full of life and buzzing like a bees wings—you know, aerodynamically, bees shouldn’t fly, but they do anyway, crazy, huh?--it flew like that too, like a bee, it made a beeline, an etch-a-sketch streak from here to there, a bent line assault that reached a host ear at about the same time that an impetuous moonbeam caught a carefree and wandering eye.  Green was the color of that eye, and that eye smiled as it glinted, glistening as if it were an emerald set in diffuse and creamy white gold.

Things can get pretty crazy when the loon calls.  They can get really, really crazy.  And our loon, that impetuous foul, had just let out one humdinger of a holler.

Two emerald eyes flashed suddenly, and just like that--because she had turned her head to look his way; and since that particularly bold bolt of incandescent light had gotten itself ensnared in her eyes, they glittered an astonishing ultramarine.  And these two eyes were not only framed by creamy white gold, they were edged by wispy and black eyelashes.  Suddenly, those eyes slammed shut.  And they slammed shut just as fast as any Venus flytrap slams shut after catching a curious and spellbound fly.  Even a gadfly.  Especially a gadfly.

Slowly, demurely, they opened.  She was confused now.  Something had just happened and she was not sure of exactly what it was.  She squinted as she thought about it.

This fine set of eyes, glinting now like an alley cat’s, looked deep into another pair of eyes, handsome and twinkling eyes.  And these eyes were dark, the color of sweltering morning coffee and politely alcoholic blackcurrant mead.  This set of eyes belonged to the other set of ears that had caught the beeline.  They were his eyes.  And those unfathomable green eyes looked deeply into those impossibly dark brown eyes for a very, very long time.

A new universe was created in that very instant; right and wrong crashed together, danced the Rumba, collapsed, swelled, shot apart.  They came back together again and overlapped several times and suddenly everything spun completely out of control, instantly it all became so confusing.  It was a subsonic big bang that tore lightness from darkness and left a lot of legroom in between, a sliding scale that measured one extreme from the other, a place for fractals to become substance, a place made for galaxies to swell, a space formed for wishing stars to shine, for worlds to spin, for loons to warble… Well, you get the idea.

The emerald eyes looked unhurriedly away from the brown eyes and somewhere in the distance there was a sudden, rapid beating of wings.  Relaxing, the loon puffed up his chest and let out a long, protracted sigh.  He settled down for the night in the nest that he and his mate had built, wiggling in just as she was nudging him to shush up and go to sleep.  His work was done.  A new spirit was born.  But this was not to be an easy birth.  Good things do not necessarily come easy, and even when magic is involved, some bit of difficulty is necessary to pull off a great trick.

Our prospective Romeo fumbled with a match and lit a cigarette as she looked at him.  He didn’t know what else to do.  You see, he had just fallen in love.  Besides, cigarettes go well with coffee (and mead goes well with coffee too, which was what he was drinking with coffee).  He drew the smoke in deep and let it waft slowly from his nose, studying it as it floated about, clouding the air; it lacked any sort of clarity that smoke, it was foggy, itinerant and diffuse, trying desperately to keep itself together but was still coming apart at the seams, stretching out like the button-down shirt of the plump man devouring dinner at the table next to him.  Buttons were threatening to pop.

Suddenly, a button popped off the portly man’s shirt and struck a crystal glass.  The glass rang stridently, chiming like the grand bell at the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris; and right at that very moment, at the Notre Dame de Paris, gripping a long and thick rope, a bell ringer named Pierre Quasimodo was jerking down on that rope and ringing that bell in a mighty frenzy, yanking on it like all Heaven and Earth depended on it, and perhaps it did.  The bell at Notre Dame de Paris was clanging loudly, ringing to get people up and out of bed, get them awake and making coffee, get people busy preparing themselves for a new day in the city of romance.

People getting up and brewing coffee always delighted Don Juan Valdez.  It put him in especially high spirits.  He was a coffee Baron in Columbia, who, at that very moment, just happened to be unloading his ass, Conchita.  Conchito, exasperated, was braying and spitting and switching his tail at an annoying gadfly.  He was completely beside himself with that little thing buzzing around him.  This however, was no ordinary gadfly.  This particular gadfly could trace its lineage all the way back to an especially famous gadfly, a gadfly that once inspired Plato to describe Socrates as a gadfly; and at being called a gadfly, Socrates looked at Plato, scratched his head and said, “Well yes, I suppose I am, but I only wind people up for their own good.”

As the girl with the green eyes watched the boy with the brown eyes, he scratched his head slowly, mussing up his hair and looking as if he were deep in thought.  She considered that, oddly, he looked a little like Socrates, just a little, around the eyes, and maybe the set of his mouth, somewhat.  And now, she was not only captivated, but exasperated, because in her head she had a gadfly buzzing around and was having trouble figuring out a way to arrange a chance meeting with the boy.

The piano player dropped his shaggy head and tapped out a high and tiptoeing string of notes that danced away from ivory keys.  They rose to the cathedral-like ceiling and then fell like raindrops, getting the whole place wet, dancing on everything in a boisterous little jazz boogie, like a spring shower.  The drummer patted lightly on golden cymbals, the guitarist strummed softly on six delightful strings, and they all fell in step with the bass player’s let-your-fingers-do-the-walking bottomless thrumming.  The saxophone sang open and smooth-tongued, singing through this sprinkle of melody, barely finding the refrain, delivering highness and lowness as it searched for some middle ground, cutting timbre, bleeding resonance, pitching as if it were lamenting something, crossroads and wrong turns maybe, or true love lost and found.

The boy with the brown eyes thought about true love.  It was suddenly on his mind.  He wasn’t sure what it was, but he was sure that if he ever found it, he didn’t want to lose it.  He squinted his eyes to help him focus his thoughts.  His thoughts abruptly migrated like a flock of geese going south, flew like an arrowhead soaring high over high ground, streaked speedily through cloudy skies to set down on the balmy shores of twin islands in a green and fretting ocean, a shade of green that was the color of that girl’s eyes.  He took a sip of his drink and instantly began trying to figure out a way to meet her.  Careful, he warned himself, he didn’t want to come off looking like a Conchita.

He peeped at the table where the girl sat.  Her lips rested lightly on the rim of her glass, caressing the bowl of the long-stemmed goblet as it sweated in the delicate grasp of her fingertips.  She turned the glass this way and that, breathing into it, staring intensely into it, watching the glass revolve and the liquid inside shine as it moved in trembling little rings outward, Lilliputian waves that were making perpetual and ever-increasing pushes to escape the center of the glass, pulsating to the rhythm of her swift and beating heart.  As she stared into the liquid, she was lost in thought, searching for an answer to the question she had just asked herself; she gazed intensely into the glass as she waited for an answer, riveted to it, as if she were looking deeply into the oracle at Delphi.

As she stared at the dark liquid, the soft features of her face became visible, became defined.  Reflecting in the glass, her face was luminous, glowing like the moon, and her eyes were sparkling, twinkling with stars.  Something in her head clicked unexpectedly.  It sounded like gears moving into place, abruptly, like machinery suddenly meshing together, beginning to turn.  Clicking in her mind with the urgency of a metronome, a clock instantly began ticking off the seconds.  And she knew then that the oracle had answered her, that the fine burgundy in her glass had spoken.  It had undone some deeply wound inhibition, suddenly erased something she couldn’t quite remember.  She felt new.  And she realized then, that she was in love.

And she knew also that a fresh moment in time had just begun, and that it had arrived all of a sudden, just like that.  And she felt that time and space had abruptly been set in motion; and she felt all of it--every bit of it—all of that time and space now, and keenly, and there was distance… distance from him; and for some reason, she thought she heard a bell ringing, a bell that sounded like a cathedral bell.  She looked up from her glass, slowly.   Quietly, she looked over at the boy with the brown eyes and watched him with a singular purposefulness.  She gazed steadily at him through a thick, long fall of silky hair, hair as pale as a rising Harvest moon.  Then, as he looked at her, she couldn’t help but smile around the rim of the glass.  He smiled back at her and there was an unexpected flash between them, a burst of light that was as bright as a new star igniting the heavens, as radiant as any super nova, as dazzling as the high-noon sun when the heroic Sheriff is busy saving the day, as bright as Quasimodo’s bells ringing in Paris--And the boy with the brown eyes knew then, that that staggering and uncanny burst of stunning light had imprinted an image of the green-eyed girl on his brain for all of eternity.

As the boy and the girl watched each other across the distance, the wine touched her lips and some of it slipped into her mouth and disappeared; and with that cute little swig, she swallowed his smitten heart.

The boy’s heartbeat was thudding now like pirate canon-fire off the Barbary Coast.  And as he watched her sip, his heart was beating to the rhythm of an over-enthusiastic preacher thumping his bible at the mention of “Desire”, booming like the echo of distant thunder on a romantic evening, and pounding like the tireless, frantic feet of grape stompers in the village of Volnay, Burgundy--who, at that very moment, were just getting busy stomping on heaps of grapes that would soon become wine for an upcoming festival.  Pierre Bouchard, a veteran stomper, was washing his feet as he thought about the festival.  It suddenly dawned on him that he owed his livelihood to Dionysus, that crafty son of Zeus and Semele.  And at the thought of Dionysus and the festival, he considered his wife and the first time he met her.  That had been one heck of a celebration, he reflected, full of madness and ecstasy under a big, fat moon in a lovely wooded glen.  He remembered too, that there had been a nice little rain shower, and he felt that it had been a really nice touch.

For some reason, the boy with the brown eyes felt like having a glass of wine.  And as he sipped the burgundy from the village of Volnay, which seemed somehow made to order, he watched the girl.

Unexpectedly, she stood.

Quietly, she gathered her things.  She paused and gazed at him, bonfires burned in her eyes.  As she turned measurably about and began to walk away, she looked over her shoulder and smiled.  It was a smile that would illume a moon that smile, a smile that would send light beaming crazy across a nice, big, fat, roomy universe, a winking, blinking light that would twinkle like a brand-new star in a fresh heaven.  He watched her move with the loveliness of a goddess in motion, step with the beauty of a divinity leisurely climbing the stairway to Heaven, stroll with the grace of an angel walking on a cloud with a silver lining, stride with the dignity of a supernatural being that could be no more beautiful than she already was, a being that was so perfect that she was utterly flawless, a being that had just … had just walked out of his life… forever.  He was devastated, beside himself with melancholy, instantly under the weather, he had a sadness that weighed on him like a cruel tempest, he was now a Shakespearean character wondering whether or not to be or not to be, feeling suddenly like no man was an island but him.  In one split second, Heaven and Earth had come crashing down; the gravity of the situation sucked him deep into the core of the earth and red-hot lava sparks boiled up around him, snapped at him like sputtering little red devils, crackling like old witches, spitting wildly—It sounded like bubbles bursting.

Slowly, he stood.  With deep sorrow he shuffled at a snail’s pace to a heavy door and opened it with a grave heart, a heart that felt like part of it had gone missing, had travelled south for the winter and left him behind in the cold, chilled, suspended completely alone without time, without space to give him substance.  He felt like a singular fractal.  With a sigh, he stepped off the beaten track and walked out onto the grass.  With his hands buried deep in his pockets he stared at the sky and studied the billows of clouds that were moving quietly overhead, blurring over a full moon.

A light rain began to fall, a tiny sprinkle that began to tap out a slow, soft beat.  At first, it was just a little stir around him as he stood there quietly, getting his feet wet.  Gently, it became harder.  Not far off, the rain began to fall from a cloudy sky and dance on the water of the loon’s pool, a nice spring rain.  Suddenly, raindrops were creating millions of tiny, little waves and circles that jumped and bumped into each other-- crazy, laughing, colliding, happy, tiny dancers--splashing all around in a wet mosh pit, becoming one, swelling and undulating together to create a gorgeous mishmash, a hectic mosaic that reflected the moon’s essence in a very long, pale streak--a streak that pointed like an arrow directly to the place where the boy stood and watched the sky, pouting.

Behind him, he heard a noise.  It was just a tiny noise, a quiet little shuffling sound really; not much more than that.  It sounded like wet feet.  And as he turned to see what had made the sound, there she stood, the girl with the green eyes.  And as she stood there looking at him, and as he stood there looking at her, their hearts pitter-pattered hard and fast, pulsating like the rain that danced over them, thumping to the pace of the quick and busy feet crushing grapes in Volnay, Burgundy, pounding to the tempo of Quasimodo ringing his church bell, beating to the cadence of Conchito’s switching tail, booming to the hammer of pirate canons bellowing off the Barbary Coast, throbbing to the score of an evening cricket symphony in fusion with the sounds of bullfrogs croaking, pulsating to the rhythm of the first winking star at twilight, glowing like the moon breaking through clouds--madly, crazy--out of control.  And he felt so wet behind the ears standing there grinning at her.  And she felt so wet behind the ears standing there grinning at him.

And somewhere not far away, the loon giggled.
Donald Dean Mace

Donald Dean Mace is an artist, poet, and freelance writer living and working quietly in Yuma, Arizona.

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