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The Engagement


Theresa Cecilia Garcia and Robert Brian Newbill

I must have waited an hour at the station, sweating and nervous at the prevailing circumstances, wrapped up in a spell of torrid weather on the hottest time of the day.

"Trust me, Dear One...You DO NOT want to see me dance. And if I'm going to dance in my Wall Street boxer shorts (with the lights on that is), I need to spend a couple months at a gym."

It was the sound of his voice and his playful imagination that released me from all my commitments and caused me to enter into an engagement with him.

"But a video you were promised...Thus and so you will get one. But I have to wait to shoot it when I know my parents will be out of the house long enough. If they go to Birmingham to see my sister and "Gabby", which I can't believe they haven't done yet, that's when I will make it."

I laughed at the memory of his disreputable nature as he delivered the lines. The thought of him helped aleviate the sting of my damp clothes stuck against my skin through the burning sun.

"I take it "Gabby" is your brother in law?" I say with mild amusement.

"You got it! That's him! Loves to talk and to hear his own voice so much I'll bet he doesn't even clam up when he's asleep. Talk about a way to shoot an entire Saturday or Sunday straight to hell. That's even more mind-numbingly boring than when they come here."

He passed my mind like a shadow, out of view from where I stood. I heard clanging behind me as the bus came in, raising the temperature a few degrees and choking everyone in its wake with dust and fumes. A hundred hot people ran out to it, pressing so close, pushing and shoving that the passengers could hardly descend let alone board. The bus emptied itself slowly. As I stepped into it, I swept a glance over the crowd and saw how each person simply disappeared like drops of water on hot concrete as the oversized tin can departed the station toward its destination.

Two coffees in a hurry took the edge of the lofty cavern of luggage and cramped conditions. Under pressure of hunger I wholly entered the world of my dreams and our engagement to escape from the toil.

"Anyway, here's how a typical trip to see Mary Beth and Gabby goes down. I have to get up at some un-godly hour. I don't have to get "dressed up" but I have to get "cleaned up". Shower, shave, make sure my "coiffe" is not in disarray. And with an hour and a half drive down there, and an hour and a half drive home, there's already 3 hours of my life I'll never get back. No tunes allowed in the air conditioning either. At least I get to sit in the front seat. Because if I ride in the back, sometimes I get car sick. Not all the time...but sometimes. I bring along my own tunes...A walkman or a discman. Even that is "restricted". I can bring it and I can use it, but more than once my mother has tapped me on the shoulder from the back seat and asked me to turn it down because she can hear it. I do it but the look that she gets could burn a hole through an inch thick plate of Titanium. Mostly because even though dad does like some of the music I like, mom does not. And even if she did, she would insist on such a low volume that you can't even really hear it. Also on these trips she's "Queen of the Car". She decides how warm or cool it should be, what if anything can be listo on the radio. And that's just the ride there and back."

"Wanna hear chapter 2?...What it's like when we get there?"

I smiled then, detached from the looming ,imminent conditions which surrounded me.

"OK:) It goes like this, and it is always the same. We get there, we go inside, the obligatory shaking of hands between the men folk occurs. My mother and my sister immediately become annoying. I'll explain further so you will be prepared. It's like they "sing" their sentences all the while putting 3 or 4 syllables into one syllable words. It's like fingernails on a blackboard. Then there is some casual conversation dominated always by Gabby while my sister with the attentive "musical" assistance of my mother puts the finishing touches on lunch. It's always the same freakin' thing...barbecue sandwiches, this bland potato salad and this really disgusting pasta salad that she makes because Gabby likes it.

They have a friendly cat who is really my only company when I'm there. A huge TV with an impressive video collection...but its never on. After lunch, and once again this is always the same, endless, boring conversations about people and places I either don't know or don't give a rat's rear about. No one talking to me at all. Then my sister will show mom first around the house then around the yard. Even from inside you can hear them "singing" their sentences. I really can't describe what that's like...It has to be experienced.

Then they want go "shopping", leaving me and dad alone with Gabby for at least two hours. No TV nothing at all for me to do but sit there and try to stay awake. Then finally they get back...more singing...then finally after a goodbye song we get to get the hell out of there. What a fun day it was for me. Another day of my life I'll never get back."

Those were my last memories and I blacked out.

I went to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood (Ft. Lostinthewoods) before being deployed into Operation DESERT SHIELD. I couldn't sleep, I didn't want to leave him.

"You may have been luckier than me if you couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep either. I was worried that maybe I had upset you by pushing too hard again. (And if I did, I'm sorry Sweetheart...Please forgive me...again.) So I did what I used to in college, mixed myself a martini and picked up a good book. And it worked, I finally fell asleep. The problem was that I dreamed. And it was awful! It was another one of those dreams where I can't find you...And
this was the worst one yet:

I was in NY. I don't know how I got there, but I was there. My old landlords from Queens let me stay with them after I arrived. I immediately tried to reach you by phone to tell you I was there...I called and called, no answer. And no message leaving gizmo picked up either. After what seemed like a hundred attempts a recording told me that the number had been disconnected. I freaked. I raced over to the address. I don't know how I got there (but it was a dream, maybe I could fly). I knock on the door. No one answers. I knock harder and call your one answers. At this point I am now in full panic mode. I am literally pounding on the door and screaming your name. Some old lady who must have heard the commotion opens her door. She says to me, "If your looking for the woman who lived there, she's gone." "GONE!!," I practically yelled at her. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN GONE?!" "GONE WHERE?!" She replied, "I don't know where she went. But she doesn't there anyone." And then she closed her door. "

"I'll be back as soon as I can, silly" I said with a giggle and that goofy laugh he always found beautiful.

Through the cracked soil of ambushes ,booby traps, encountering and returning fire ;morning arrived. All but dead of thirst ,I found myself on a mosquito netted cot in a vestibule assimilated into the shadows. It was his vision which haunted me, keeping me alive; so I took the only means possible of banishing it. I kept my word.

The first Gulf War was very successful, in my recollection. Basically, we blew the crap out the Iraqis who surrendered by the thousands-tens of thousands. Last time I can ever recall no resistance at all, just a lot of dead or dying Iraqis who never returned home to their loved ones.
At noon that day there floated over the roof-tops the silver ringing of a bell and in my thoughts I clung to his words silent as a wound.
"For My Angel...

The Vision

The forest, the glade,
she was there.
An ancient image in my mind
faded before the new reality.
The trees, the grass
the very air about her was beautiful .
I stood at the edge
absorbing her presence.
Only a short time ago
I had stood here before
the time in between
was a lonely dream,
both a moment and an eternity .

She wore a light green dress
almost translucent in the sunlight.
Her face was fair
and framed by the luster of her hair.
It seemed to flow both deep black and red
in a fascinating harmony of color.
There was a softness in her eyes
with just a hint of mischievous charm
but I was not afraid.
I knew I would be safe within her arms.
There was a gentle fullness in her figure.
Sweet soft curves I wanted to touch.
Her entire aspect suggested to me
that I had finally found
the promised one, my one true love,
that I’d been searching for so long.

Fire and water so often opposed
Merged there on that day
And then we walked away…

Together. "

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