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    Parker Owens
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Double Concerto - 14. Alla Marcia

Today's outlook is mostly sunny, with a slight chance of Rita.

Rick stared out at the morning sun glinting on the surface of the lake. The rays from the east glittered off zephyr-ruffled waves; something sweet scented the air. He shifted in his Adirondack chair and took another sip of his coffee. It was going to be a glorious Fourth of July. Except, for Rick, it didn’t feel very glorious at all. He hadn’t slept well.

Gus entered a very vivid dream. In the dream, he’d been called to fix something – he couldn’t recall just what – and Gus had met him at the door, wearing a pair of white exercise pants and nothing else. Had they kissed in the dream? Somehow, he was aware of his growing erection.

Instead of a leak or an electrical problem, Gus guided him over to a piano.

“Fix it,” the dream Gus demanded suddenly in a hard voice.

“I can’t,” Rick heard himself say.

“Then you shouldn’t have come. Get out.”

He woke an instant later, heart racing, and in need of relief.

Rick should have been reveling, but he did not feel like enjoying the holiday. The dream had spoiled his morning, and a host of other thoughts amplified his sourness.

Most people welcomed the Independence Day break in the summer. Some took several days off to make it a very long weekend, while others reserved the whole week. It was a time to relax and enjoy the warmth of the season, maybe join friends for a barbeque or work for the Chamber of Commerce at the fireworks. In other years, Rick might have approached such events willingly, even with a smile.

The bright sun mocked his dark mood.

Despite his discontent, Rick made no move out of his chair. He batted away a persistent fly and took another swallow of bitter black liquid. He frowned. He shifted again. He felt no serenity as he took in the peaceful sounds of the early morning, and the scene of the placid lake.

It wasn’t like there was a shortage of chores to do that day. The night before, he’d made out a list of things to be accomplished and stuck it to the fridge.

Another puff of wind, and Rick wrinkled his nose. Maybe the wild roses were still blooming in the hedge. Caroline Lee always claimed those vines had to be rooted out, or they would take over. He never thought they were so bad. No, it wasn’t the list of jobs and tasks awaiting his attention causing his discontent. The bright, beckoning lake which called to him was not the wellspring of his restlessness.

Perhaps it was the two young men on a motorcycle he’d encountered a few days earlier which still got under his skin. Two twenty-somethings with matching rings on their fingers and no space between them on the Harley’s seat; men with eyes and hearts set on each other. Or maybe it was a singularly beautiful man with honey-colored skin, deep dark eyes, and an enigmatic, enchanting smile; or possibly the painful memory of a magnetic, golden haired youth who could do no wrong.

Today was July the Fourth. Why did he feel haunted by the two riders? Why did Gus inhabit his dreams? And why did he have to be a slave to a summer that lay decades in the past?

If only I’d told Willy Kohler to go away. I wouldn’t have wasted my summer chasing something I couldn’t handle, following someone who didn’t want me. Maybe I could have been normal. I wouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself or mooning over some guy who’s so far out of my league -

Rick shook his head. He wasn’t going there again. He had to stop thinking that way. There was no going back. He was living his own version of normal, and he’d have to figure out how to be content with that.

Dad and Trudy will be here in a few days. Gotta clean the house; make it shine. Maybe I should tackle the north end of the deck. Or maybe there’s going to be some kind of emergency call. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Rick tossed out the last cold swig of acid coffee on the grass and stood.

As if on cue, the landline phone rang in the house, shattering the morning calm. He was being summoned. Making a deliberate turn of his shoulders, Rick trudged back toward the house.

Answering the phone, Rick got a surprise.

“Rick, is that you? It’s Caroline Lee.” His neighbor’s voice carried over the line.

He cringed inwardly. Please. Not chickens today.

“What can I do for you today, Mrs. Lee?”

“You can come with me to the parade downtown. None of my children are here, and I’d like a little company.”

Rick paused. He had no desire to join his neighbors at the annual Independence Day Parade. There were always a couple of marching bands and a stream of homemade floats sponsored by various businesses or churches or charities. Smiling farm families would roll by, escorted by specially shined agricultural equipment. It was another opportunity for small town complacency to rub his shortcomings in his face.

“I’m not sure I’m going, Mrs. Lee.”

“Of course you’re coming along, Rick.” Her voice brooked no disagreement. “Everybody in town goes. And anyway, I need someone to carry my chair.”

Rick couldn’t suppress a wry smile. Someone needs me for something, anyway.

“Maybe, I don’t know. I bet there will be spare chairs there.”

“Not where I want to sit. They always put out the old people’s chairs in front of the Presbyterian Church, and there’s no good view from that lawn. Besides, how can I treat you to lunch if you don’t come with me? It’s the least I can do for your help with my chickens.”

Rick sighed. He really did love the old lady. He could resist, but Caroline Lee was a force of nature. A good force, for the most part, but not to be denied.

“Okay. The parade starts at eleven, so I should pick you up at ten forty, maybe?”

“Goodness no, Rick, that’s much too late. I’ll be over at your house in half an hour, and then we can walk over.”

“Walk? You certain you want to do that?”

“Of course I’m sure,” the old woman huffed over the phone. “It’s a waste of gasoline to drive, and then you have to park your car, and then you’re walking anyway.”

“Fine. Let me get ready.”

And precisely thirty minutes later, Rick opened his kitchen door to reveal Mrs. Lee and her dog at waiting patiently for him.

She made an interesting sight: a short, bent, dark skinned woman attired in practical, parade watching garb; short sleeved white tee decorated with embroidered red flowers, denim skirt, and bright red sneakers, topped by an oversized floppy hat over her iron-grey hair. She peered at Rick from behind enormous horn-rimmed sunglasses.

“Thank you for coming with me, Rick.” Mrs. Lee smiled, and handed over her folding lawn chair.

“No problem.” He closed and locked the door behind him.

“Aren’t you bringing a chair for yourself?”

“No, I think it’s easier to stand.” He failed to mention that it would make his getaway easier later on.

The unlikely pair made their way across the lawn and headed downtown, toward the main street where the parade would be.

“I know you have better things to do than to spend your holiday with an old woman like me,” she began, but Rick cut her off.

“You’re not old, Mrs. Lee. Don’t get started on that.”

“Huh. If Vincent were any younger, he’d be taking me for a walk.” She gestured with her head at the patient Labrador who paced on the lead ahead of them on the sidewalk.

They walked on through the intermittent shade of the trees lining the street.

“I liked those flowers you picked out for me, did I tell you that?” Mrs. Lee asked.

“You did. A friend of mine helped me get them.”

“I didn’t remember Jerry Guttmacher knowing anything about flowers.”

“I don’t think he does,” Rick laughed. “This was a different friend.”

“You have more than just Jerry?”

“Ouch. That hurt.”

“Oh, hush, Rick. You know what I mean.”

They stopped at a cross street, looked both ways, and then proceeded on their way, Vincent’s tail waving in slow time to their steps as they went.

“No, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“You must be about the most solitary wolf in ten counties.” Mrs. Lee almost sounded as if she were scolding.

“Now don’t you start. I’ve had my father and everyone else in town on my case about that for years.”

“Rick, I’m sorry. You know me, I’m always thinking and worrying. I do that a lot, now that the store is closed. And I worry about you.”

“Which I appreciate,” Rick interjected.

“Do you? Well. It just seems to me that you have lots of acquaintances and lots of people you do business with, but precious few real friends.”

“But – “

“About the only person who calls you his friend is the Guttmacher boy.”

“He’s not a boy, Mrs. Lee. And what have you been doing, spying on me?”

His companion cackled, drawing a concerned glance from her pet. “I have my sources. And you know I get around town. People gossip.”

“Everybody in this town gossips.”

“That’s true, too.”

“Well, almost everyone. You don’t gossip, Mrs. Lee.”

“Oh, I don’t? How do you know?”

“I never hear anything that someone says came from you. Plumbing customers talk too, you know.”

They crossed another street.

“So are you friends with this woman or not?”

“Which woman?”

“You know who I mean. That McKee woman.”

“Well, we went out to dinner and I was at her reception.” Rick offered.

“And that means what, Rick?”

The question hung in the air as they ambled along the block. How had their conversation turned so heavy? It wasn’t ground he wanted to cover. Rick thought about turning back, and letting his neighbor go on to the parade on her own. But that would have been quite rude to someone who had been kind to him over the years.

“Does it have to mean something?” Rick finally responded.

“I think that depends on you,” Caroline Lee mused, “on whether you think it means anything.”

They walked in the shade on the south side of the street, Vincent stopping to sniff at a shrub or something in the grass every now and then.

The older woman continued. “I’m sorry if I touched a sore spot. I apologize. But don’t say I never cared.”

“I wouldn’t.”

“I’ve watched you grow up, you know. Your mother and I weren’t so far apart in age; we used to swap stories about running a household, raising kids, that kind of thing. She used to come into the store with you hanging on her hand. You were such a happy child, a friend of all the world.”

The Labrador paused again to sniff at an anthill.

“But when your mother died, it was as if a switch had been turned off, and the lights went out.”

Rick said nothing; he just walked ahead. They crossed another side street.

“Oh, you were polite and cheerful and friendly enough, but it seems to me that you grew up in the dark, and you pretty much live with the power out.”

“Is that right?” Rick’s voice was flat.

“Oh, honey, listen, I’m sorry. This is too personal. I’m just an old lady with too much time on her hands. But before I finish, I’ll just say this: it seems to me lately that something’s going on. I might be pardoned for thinking you’re a bit more irritable than usual. You sigh, and mutter to yourself; and your face moves. So you can’t blame me for wondering who changed your fuses.” Caroline Lee smiled and snickered.

Rick pasted as much cheer on his face as he could manage. “Hey, it’s breaker boxes now, Mrs. Lee. And are you saying I’m not very bright?”

Vincent turned and looked back. His owner simply shook her head, smiled, and looked away.

At least the question was deflected for the moment.

Other people were streaming toward the parade route now; families with small children, older couples, a small pack of teenagers all made their way toward Main Street. Both sides of the street were pretty much taken up with parked cars.

“Let’s turn at this corner,” Mrs. Lee commanded as they approached an intersection.

The pair headed to their left, up a sunny block. Rick could see a crowd gathered in the distance already. As they neared the parade route, several people waved to Caroline.

“This way, Rick,” she said, waving back.

Vincent stayed close to his mistress as they wove through the flowing tide of people toward a spot on the curbside. There, a large poster lay on the ground, marked “RESERVED” in rainbow colored magic marker. He marveled at Caroline Lee, staking out her spot in advance. He had to admit, this was an excellent vantage point. They would see marchers coming down Main Street just after they rounded the corner from their marshaling area near the High School. There would be a clear view of floats and participants from several angles.

“Here we are. Rick, you unfold my chair, will you?”

“Sure thing.” He set it down so she could sit. Vincent sat next to her with calm dignity as she settled herself.

“That webbing has seen a whole lot of life,” Rick commented. “Maybe you might think about getting a new chair.”

“What’s the matter with this one?”

“It’s an antique, I think.”

“Pfft. Antique! Plenty of good use left in this thing!”

The Labrador looked up at his mistress inquiringly. Rick was surprised to see so much gray around the muzzle. He hadn’t remembered that.

“I suppose it’s in good enough shape.”

“Like me.”

“That’s right. Plenty of life left in you, too.” They both laughed.

An increasing number of people flowed past them on the sidewalk, headed further downtown, where the grandstand and judging would take place. Several in the stream stopped to chat with Mrs. Lee for a moment. He exchanged a few greetings with others he knew.

The sun grew warmer. Rick decided Caroline Lee’s hat wasn’t so ridiculously large, after all. He watched as spectators gathered in front of lawns and storefronts. He and Caroline sat directly opposite Bueller and Carbone’s law offices. Across the street and to the left was one of several Baptist churches in town. It looked more like a large suburban ranch style home than a church, right down to the manicured lawn. Rick chuckled to himself. Pastor Schuller must have been torn between welcoming people to his church’s grounds and trying to minimize the damage so many feet were going to do to the grass.

He surveyed the scene. Somewhere in the distance, drums sounded a tattoo in snappy rhythm. A ripple of anticipation passed through the faces across the way.

Rick blinked.

There, near the front rank of onlookers on the Baptist church lawn, stood Gus. Gus, who made his heart race; Gus, for whom he had an impossible yearning. The dark-skinned man wore a collarless navy-blue shirt cut in an unusual pattern. The angle of the sun made it look as if there might be some kind of design woven into the fabric down the front. His short black hair looked as if someone had mussed it recently.

Rick watched Gus turn slightly away to speak to someone nearby. Joey. The young boy suddenly slipped in front of Gus and a middle-aged couple to appear at the front of the crowd by the opposite curb. And then the girl, the boy’s sister, appeared. Marta, that was her name. She made the crimson tank top she wore look elegant, despite her bored countenance. He could not spot Magda, mother Takács, anywhere on the opposite side.

Gus wore a worried expression, and it became clear why soon enough. Not content with waiting for the arrival of the parade, Joey stepped out into the street, and wandered out toward the center line, looking for the first marchers. Gus called out to the boy, but to no discernible effect.

Rick’s heart quickened. Maybe he could dart out onto Main Street and send Joey back. Maybe –

“Hey, Rick, happy Fourth of July!” A hand slapped his back.

He spun to address this new voice. A smiling face greeted him – his insurance agent.

“Hey, Bert. Nice to see you. You know Caroline Lee, right?”

The older woman twisted in her chair and peered up from under her hat. “Well, Bert Albrecht. Haven’t seen you in quite a while.”

“Hello, Mrs. Lee. Enjoying the parade?”

“I will when it comes along. Speaking of coming along, you haven’t been by to see me lately.” She sounded a bit petulant.

“Oh, well, I’ve been working. Business, new clients – you know. But I’m not a busy guy like Rick is, here.”

Mrs. Lee raised an eyebrow.

“Haven’t you heard? Our perennial bachelor here is courting Rita McKee. You might not know her, she’s new. She opened a real estate agency in town this year.”

“I might have heard something about it,” Caroline admitted, her poker face giving nothing away.

Rick tried to interrupt. “Who told you – “

“How’s business, Bert?” Mrs. Lee overrode Rick, changing the subject.

“Really good. Can’t complain.”

The old lady put a smile on her face. “Well, I’m glad for that. Good to see you.”

“You too, Mrs. Lee,” the insurance agent smiled. “And Rick,” he added. And then the man was on his way.

Rick wanted to return his attention to watching Gus, but Mrs. Lee spoke up.

“I’ve never quite trusted that boy, you know.”

“What? Bert’s okay.” Rick tried to forget about being needled over Rita. Again. “His family business has handled our insurance since forever ago.”

“Oh, I don’t think he’s fundamentally dishonest,” she replied, “it’s just that he seems to have that slick veneer about him. Never liked buying insurance.”

Rick frowned. He’d never thought about Bert that way. He turned again to see if he could find Joey and Gus once more. He spotted them quickly. Gus was leaning over, speaking to the boy seriously, and holding onto his hand. Rick grinned a little. Joey was a bit of a handful.

Drums sounded much nearer, beating out a brisk, syncopated rhythm. Rick watched Gus straighten and turn his head and shoulders toward the corner.

The man was beautiful.

Soon, a marching band in bright red uniforms rounded into view. Polite applause rippled along the street sides as jauntily clad majorettes twirled batons in front of a pair of more stolid blond youngsters carrying a banner emblazoned Crandford High School. They must have had a forty-mile drive. A whistle blew four times; snare drums sounded and the brasses blared out a tune.

It took Rick a moment or two to recognize it – Indiana Jones. He’d been to see those movies.

He watched as a row of high schoolers blowing silver flutes stepped by. He felt badly for them – they must have sweltered in their dark red tunics, which seemed to match a number of the faces showing from under matching white and red peaked hats.

Following these, a group of saxophones did their best to keep step. One poor boy with a long curly mop and aviator sunglasses seemed to be having trouble getting a clear field of vision – perhaps his glasses were fogging up.

Rick caught glimpses of Gus across the street between rows of marchers, until the euphoniums completely obscured his view.

And then the band was past, and Rick could see again. He couldn’t help looking. Joey watched in rapt attention as the red and white clad band headed down the street; Gus was saying something to him. Marta had her back turned to the street; her body language just about shouted that she wished she was someplace else.

By contrast, Rick was content with his vantage point and what he could see; he felt glad he had come to the parade, after all. Not that he was going to say so to Caroline Lee.

Floats began to roll by.

Smiling children, members of the county 4-H, waved from the back of a farm wagon. The ladies of the Eastern Star smiled as they sat on a flatbed, hailing friends and acquaintances. A classic Oldsmobile convertible, festooned with signs and streamers, crept forward. It carried several local dignitaries running for reelection in the rear seat, looking quite warm, even in shirtsleeves.

Successive entrants obscured Rick’s view of Gus and the Takács kids. He alternated viewing floats with glancing across the street. He couldn’t help himself.

“What’s that you’re looking at?” Mrs. Lee spoke up.

Rick’s attention snapped back to his companion. “Sorry, did you say something?”

“I asked what was so fascinating across the street?”

Rick bit his lip. “Nothing. Just thought I saw someone I knew.”

The older woman snorted. “That’s not saying much. You and I know everyone in this town.”

The wail of sirens interrupted all further conversation. The Eagle Lake Volunteer Fire Company rolled into view. Rick wondered if every emergency vehicle in Eagle Lake had been marshaled for the event. He grinned – he knew they enjoyed showing off their equipment; members took great pride in every piece. The 40-foot truck with an aerial unit was new a couple of years ago.

Some firefighters rode in their gear; others strode alongside in their blue uniforms. Rick waved to Walter Heinemann. His old friend was more or less retired from responding to calls, but still helped out around the fire hall and at fundraisers.

The Fire Company wasn’t just a club for middle aged men; quite a few women marched or rode, and there were younger Junior Members, too. Rick caught a flash of flaming red hair – Jared West, Jerry Guttmacher’s new assistant, would become a full member when he turned eighteen.

Caroline had no chance to resume their conversation after the fire trucks passed. Right behind the fire company followed the Eagle Lake High School marching band. Like their counterparts from Crandford, the marchers sweated in the hot sun in their uniforms. White pants, green jackets with white facings, and plumed hats – Rick shifted in sympathetic discomfort. In contrast to the Crandford band, Eagle Lake’s played a traditional march tune in quick step. The kids smiled as they played.

Across the street, Rick spotted Gus grinning down at an excited Joey. The boy pointed at something amongst the brass players. Rick couldn’t know what interested the youngest Takács, but the smile on his piano teacher’s face made the day. And sulky Marta appeared to have found something interesting, too. Her eyes were following something far down Main Street, amongst the things that had passed by.

“Ricky! Ricky! Yooo Hooo!” A female voice called out to him in the relative quiet behind the Eagle Lake band.

Suddenly, Rick felt stinging at his left eye. He’d been hit with something hard. He put a hand up to his face.

An elderly yellow Dodge Dart convertible purred in the street. A sign hung over the single, wide door: McKee Realty Group. Rick recognized the driver, Dan Unser, President of the School Board. Rita McKee stood in the back, hurling handfuls of hard candy at the crowd.

She waved at him again. “Happy Fourth of July, Ricky!” she yelled, and then blew him a kiss.

He raised his hand in acknowledgement and rubbed at his face.

There were more floats and marchers after that: a group of Shriners playing kazoos, and Five Star Agricultural Equipment added some shiny antique tractors to the procession.

But when Rick peered across Main Street at the end of the parade, Gus and the Takács children were nowhere to be seen.

I have been much aided in writing this story by @AC Benus and @Carlos Hazday, for whose efforts I remain most grateful. Should you have any comment, speculation, observation or thought to leave, I would be very happy to read it.

Copyright © 2020 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



Bad timing for Bert to show up when he did just as Gus was going to get Joey out of the street that gesture could have led to some interaction with Gus doesn't Bert know  it's Rita's job to mess things up for Rick.Speaking of Rita her blowing Rick a kiss like that in a crowd will keep the gossip going strong.The one  thing Rita might be doing for Rick is providng a cover for Rick's secret .Mrs Lee's comments about  Rick living with the power out etc. in a town like this others probably have made similar observations if not for Rita the gossip might be different

Edited by weinerdog
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35 minutes ago, Ivor Slipper said:

Candy kisses now eh? Watch out Rick!

Rick may remember the sting of that candy for a long time. Let’s hope Rita doesn’t injure any small children. Thanks very much for reading!

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12 minutes ago, 84Mags said:

Your words weave a perfect portrait of small town USA 4th of July, from the children running into the street, the farm implements proudly on display, the candy bombs being hurled into the crowds, the elderly on rickety, woven lawn chairs, and the sweaty marching band members proudly playing.   Having raised the later, I loved your shout out to euphoniums!  
Rick remains stuck ‘in his head’, observing while others participate.  Perhaps if he takes a moment to really think about what Caroline Lee didn’t say, he would recognize an ally.   Further, he might allow himself to wonder if Gus was watching him as well, and perhaps was disappointed with Rita’s display of air kisses.   

I appreciate your insight that Rick is still focused inwardly. Perhaps if he has a quiet moment to reflect, he might think on the notions you raised. However, he’d probably have a very hard time imagining that Gus would be watching him. I am very glad you enjoyed the parade. Even a small town can present a richly colored kaleidoscope of color and sense. And no parade is complete without euphoniums. Thank you so very much for your thoughts and for reading. 
 

 

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I sure hope that Rick soon grows a couple and tells Rita McKee to back off and stop pretending that she has a thing going on with Rick. I get that it's a small town and that Rick has a pretty high-profile job but, jeez, this is getting really tedious.

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1 hour ago, Carlos Hazday said:

I feel so sorry for Rick. He's miserable, trapped in a miserable life, surrounded by mostly miserable people. It's a wonder he gets up each morning. Let's hope a sexy piano player, with an assist from two bikers, gives him the courage to strike back at those who push him around.

Once again, Parker, I marvel at your patience. The story's pace matches life in Eagle Lake. I'm jealous. I can't slow down my writing as well as you do.

This is definitely not the big city. Rick is a patient man, possibly too patient. Then again, he's a fisherman. His temperament is to bend rather than break, like a good fishing rod. There are tons of good metaphors, if only he can get the right fish to bite. Thanks for your kind words and fore all your help.

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1 hour ago, Nahrung said:

I sure hope that Rick soon grows a couple and tells Rita McKee to back off and stop pretending that she has a thing going on with Rick. I get that it's a small town and that Rick has a pretty high-profile job but, jeez, this is getting really tedious.

Rick is in a tight spot. Somehow, he'll have to wriggle off of Rita's hook and swim free. But doing so will piss off Heinrich Senior just when the old man is coming for his annual pilgrimage. At least the parade had some redeeming sights across the street. Thanks very much for commenting and reading!

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1 hour ago, Parker Owens said:

Rick is in a tight spot. Somehow, he'll have to wriggle off of Rita's hook and swim free. But doing so will piss off Heinrich Senior just when the old man is coming for his annual pilgrimage. At least the parade had some redeeming sights across the street. Thanks very much for commenting and reading!

And speaking of the parade... I am very curious who in the brass section caused the excitement in Joey and made Gus grin.   Then further down the parade something or someone changed Marta’s mood for the better, too.   🤔

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Small town, America. You painted a great picture, Parker. I can almost imagine Rick as a bomb about to explode. Once again, Rita ruins the day, but Rick really has no one to blame but himself. I understand his predicament... and I sympathize, but he has to take a first step if he ever wants a happy life. Mr's Lee strikes me as knowing more than Rick thinks. I wonder if his father's return won't trigger an eruption point. Another great chapter that draws us deeper into this man's frustrating and lonely life. Cheers! 

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4 hours ago, 84Mags said:

And speaking of the parade... I am very curious who in the brass section caused the excitement in Joey and made Gus grin.   Then further down the parade something or someone changed Marta’s mood for the better, too.   🤔

Perhaps Joey likes brassy instruments in general. That would be a spot of childhood rebellion in that household, I imagine.

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3 hours ago, Headstall said:

Small town, America. You painted a great picture, Parker. I can almost imagine Rick as a bomb about to explode. Once again, Rita ruins the day, but Rick really has no one to blame but himself. I understand his predicament... and I sympathize, but he has to take a first step if he ever wants a happy life. Mr's Lee strikes me as knowing more than Rick thinks. I wonder if his father's return won't trigger an eruption point. Another great chapter that draws us deeper into this man's frustrating and lonely life. Cheers! 

Rita certainly seems to do precisely the wrong thing at the worst time, doesn't she? I'm glad you can recognize the scenes and see the images painted in this chapter. Rick has had other opportunities before, but they've all gone wrong. However, this summer seems to present him with a choice. Mrs. Lee appears to know how to ask questions that make Rick squirm a little. I suppose all neighbors know how to do that, especially in small, close-knit communities. Thanks very much for continuing to read this story, and for your comments.

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7 hours ago, Nahrung said:

I sure hope that Rick soon grows a couple and tells Rita McKee to back off and stop pretending that she has a thing going on with Rick. I get that it's a small town and that Rick has a pretty high-profile job but, jeez, this is getting really tedious.

Well said!😉

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You captured the parade and the essence of small town life perfectly.  I'm curious as to what grabbed Gus and the children's attention.  I loved the descriptions in this chapter.  It was very well-written.  Now something needs to break Rick out of his complacency.  The two bikers have planted a seed... let's see if something germinates when Rick's father and stepmother arrive.  Or I should say explodes... Rick is a bit of a ticking time bomb.  He's put up with so much in his life, now it's time to break out and tell Daddy off.  I think something's going to give when his father arrives.  It's not fair I have to wait a whole week to find out!  :P  

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45 minutes ago, Valkyrie said:

You captured the parade and the essence of small town life perfectly.  I'm curious as to what grabbed Gus and the children's attention.  I loved the descriptions in this chapter.  It was very well-written.  Now something needs to break Rick out of his complacency.  The two bikers have planted a seed... let's see if something germinates when Rick's father and stepmother arrive.  Or I should say explodes... Rick is a bit of a ticking time bomb.  He's put up with so much in his life, now it's time to break out and tell Daddy off.  I think something's going to give when his father arrives.  It's not fair I have to wait a whole week to find out!  :P  

Rick’s long, long fuse is lit. Perhaps he’ll explode, or maybe he’ll just sputter out. I’m happy you could enjoy a hot July parade in the sunshine even as cold December closes in on us in the north. There was so much to watch and hear, it’s no wonder the Takacs kids from the big city saw something to amuse and pique their interest. And Independence Day isn’t over yet. Thank you very much for your comments and for reading!

Edited by Parker Owens
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2 hours ago, drsawzall said:

BTW, the Rita warning was spot on, well played!!

Hope your parade wasn’t badly spoiled by her appearance. 

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On 12/3/2020 at 7:38 AM, Parker Owens said:

Let’s hope Rita doesn’t injure any small children.

Personally, I’m hoping for the opposite. The children will be remembered for decades to come with a statue erected in the town square, honoring those who nobly sacrificed their lives in order to liberate everyone from the candy hurling harpy known as Rita McKee.

Plus, she doesn’t strike me as an attentive driver on a good day, let alone while chucking sugar grenades on a crowded parade route. Someone’s destined to become her speed bump.

Poor Rick can’t catch a break — even his subconscious is hitting below the belt. The way things are going, whoever’s been messaging him will turn out to be Willy Kohler.

I look forward to something going right for Rick for a change. At least he has a friend and ally in Mrs. Lee. Maybe she can run interference when his dad visits ... and go with him to the kids’ funerals. 

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1 hour ago, Danners said:

Personally, I’m hoping for the opposite. The children will be remembered for decades to come with a statue erected in the town square, honoring those who nobly sacrificed their lives in order to liberate everyone from the candy hurling harpy known as Rita McKee.

Plus, she doesn’t strike me as an attentive driver on a good day, let alone while chucking sugar grenades on a crowded parade route. Someone’s destined to become her speed bump.

Poor Rick can’t catch a break — even his subconscious is hitting below the belt. The way things are going, whoever’s been messaging him will turn out to be Willy Kohler.

I look forward to something going right for Rick for a change. At least he has a friend and ally in Mrs. Lee. Maybe she can run interference when his dad visits ... and go with him to the kids’ funerals. 

Wow. The Rita McKee War Memorial, honoring the fallen. And every Independence Day, someone lays a basket of candy at the base of the statue for all the deserving children of Eagle Lake. I like it. 
 

Rick’s subconscious has been hammering away at him for a long time. People like Caroline Lee have been wonderful neighbors to him. When he thinks about it, Rick can remind himself that people like her see something good in him. 
 

Thank you very much for your thoughts. I appreciate your reading this chapter. 

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I like Caroline, she seems to be a no nonsense person.

Rita reminds me of Beverley Hofstader from Big Bang Theory, she is also an irritating person. 

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2 hours ago, Bft said:

I like Caroline, she seems to be a no nonsense person.

Rita reminds me of Beverley Hofstader from Big Bang Theory, she is also an irritating person. 

Caroline is plain and down to earth. She’s also very fond of Rick. Two good reasons to like her! I hadn’t made that Big Bang Theory connection with Rita, but it fits. Watch out for flying candy. Thanks again for your comments! 

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I confess, I had to google euphonium, I was expecting a brass horn instrument, but my mind went to tubas, I was not familiar with euphoniums (euphonia?). I am pretty good at German, but Latin plurals leave me out in the cold.

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