In the shadow of Disneyland, he clerks in a gray office near a woman he soon desires. He is young, with few prospects. So what if she sleeps with the boss. He watches her panty lines as she walks past his desk and seduces her on breaks with a pseudo bold spirit and basic religious conundrums--free will, the problem of evil, Cain's wife, and so forth.
Peacocks wander the gardens outside their room at the inn, endlessly it seems, calling their warnings throughout the night: You will be fired. She won't leave her husband.
Years later, he waits with a leather briefcase in an LAX departure lounge, his life finally substantial and lost enough to phone her. He recognizes her gravelly hello instantly.
Remember those peacocks? he says.
I can't see one without thinking of you, she says. I've missed you.
Her life, it seems, is no better than his and they agree to meet at the beach in three weeks. He boards the plane for Denver. His doubts, left behind, spin on a carousel in an empty hall.
The years have been good to you, he says when she steps from the convertible, her hair windswept and blonde. In a restaurant overlooking the bay, he unloads the baggage of his time without her.
She touches his hand and smiles. There are no guarantees, she says.
And so, even without warranty, he feels saved, rescued, and walks with her into the sunlit day. Hand in hand they step off the dock of the known world.
published 16 November 2011