by XenagogueVicene 29 May 2011 6:37 a.m. Sunday
When I woke up I saw the red lights of my digital alarm clock display – 5:00.
My bedroom door was open because it is warm and I could see the gray light through the kitchen windows. But, I did not know it was five in the morning, or five o’clock at night. I tried to remember what time I fell asleep. I could not. I was lying down, rolling around under the covers wondering if I should just go back to sleep after relieving myself in the bathroom. Birds outside in the trees where making their various chirps and whistles, so I decided that it must be morning. I resolved to go out and enjoy street skating at five in the morning on a Sunday. I planned to have the street to myself.
I put on black jeans, and looked through a pile of clothes I threw in the back room to find a black T-shirt. I put on my roller blades and wrist guards and went out to the street. I didn’t make coffee first. I wanted to seize the day and get out there.
I thought Sunday morning would be so quiet that I would not wear my CD player to listen to music. I could see the empty main street a hundred feet away from our door facing the side street. I guess the birds get up just before dawn, and they do a lot of noisy work around sunrise, because the birds where chirping all around me.
I skated up and down the middle of the side street. No cars in sight. No people walking by. I could see a squirrel on top of a telephone pole chasing another squirrel around the pole and down a wire to the next pole. Was that a male chasing a female.
I delighted in going past the mailbox on the corner and out into the middle of the main street. This street is two lanes and has a painted median strip. During a weekday the street has many cars and trucks passing by. But on a Sunday morning – the street was mine. I looked down to the church at the foot of the hill with its strange square tower. Who lives up there? When Lucy was little she said that Quasimodo was ringing the bells when the church played its recorded church bell music.
I was turning around in the middle of the street when I saw a car coming from Adams street. I thought I saw the golden brown fur of a large trim dog. I looked again. I saw a young deer in the middle of the street. The animal was running toward me near the fire call box and the crosswalk at the top of the hill. The animal looked at me and stopped. The car was coming up behind.
I guess the animal decided to avoid me. It looked to its right leaped up an embankment on over some hedges and went into the backyard of a two story house. The black car pulled up closer and stopped across from the backyard. I skated to the edge of the road. I saw a gold flash light up the street for a second. The people in the car where taking pictures of the deer in the back yard.
I skated around a bit. The car drove by my side street and I caught a glimpse of a shaved head young twenty something sitting in the passenger seat. I skated up and down the street and picked up stray pebbles and threw then in among our garden stones.
I saw a couple of young women walking up the hill. I skated down the street away from their view. But a the right distance down the side street I turned around and expected they would be far enough up the hill to be crossing my street and I could see them. Check them out. As they came into view passing the house on the corner I guessed that they were in their early twenties. Both were a little plump, but pleasantly so. One girl looked a little Mediterranean, or Latin. The other girl was pale and I was looking at her body as she crossed the street to the sidewalk. She had a brown short sleeve top on. Her breast were medium, she had a waist, but I could see extra rolls of fat around her belt area. But she was attractive. They disappeared around the hedge.
Up and down I went. I saw a little bird perched on a phone wire. It flew off as I passed beneath.
I skated to the corner and looked down the sidewalk and saw a slim figure with a tan top walking up the hill. She had something in her hand. I figured she was jogging and listening to music on an iPod. I skated back down the street out of her view. When I was skating up she was crossing the street and her head was toward me. I nodded hello. She kept looking at me. I skated closer. She was smiling.
“Did you see that, a deer, in the middle of fucking Dorchester?” She had an Irish accent, I could smell alcohol. She had a cute blunt cut style to her hair, thin wispy brown blonde, to her shoulders. She was about 5’6 5’5….I was on roller blades which must give me four or five more inches of altitude. She was thin.
She walked further up the hill to take a picture of the deer. I stayed at the corner and watched. I doubted the deer would come back out on this street. I thought it would go the other way. But I saw a flash of her camera. She was aiming towards the next back yard down. “It’s asleep.” I thought that was strange. I skated up the hill to see. She let out a moan of disappointment. “Oh, that’s not it.”
I looked into the grassy lawn and plants and shrubs and spotted a flattened bail of hay. She had moved to the next yard up. “To think on the street around here you’d see a fucking deer!” She said to me. I loved her Irish accent.
“I called Animal Control. They said ‘Did you hit the deer, ma’me?’ I said ‘No, I didn’t hit the fucking deer!’ They acted like it was no big deal. “‘Happens all the time.'”
As she walked down the hill with her red camera in her hand she looked at me with a puzzled look. “So what are you doing out a five o’clock in the morning on skates/”
“I have too much energy, I eat lots of fish.” I told her as I skated back an forth facing her as we went down the hill.
“My mother was from Ireland and she taught me to eat a lot of sea food. She used to eat kelp I think that’s the Irish word.”
She slowed a little as she passed me and looked at me. “What? Seaweed.”
“Yes.” I said. I was thinking of the brown dried leaves my mother used to get at the Irish store.
“We call that dules.”
“Yes, that’s what my mother called it.”
She was a cute girl. She stopped at the corner and displayed the picture of the deer on her camera and held it out for me to see. I squinted through the chain link gray fence and saw the brown pelt of the deer and its black nose and eyes. It looked like a young animal. No horns. Almost like a large dog with extra long legs.
The woman told me that she had been out drinking, but that she works as a waitress and didn’t finish work and start drinking until after three o’clock in the morning.
“What bar do you work at?” I asked her. I was thrilled to talk to an attractive, lively young woman. I loved her feeling of excitement at seeing the deer, and her desire to take pictures.
“The Center, it’s near Andrew Square. It’s in a bad neighborhood, but it’s like an old Irish traditional bar. About two years ago some brothers bought it and raised the price of Hennessey from $3.50 to $6.50, took all the R&B songs and Rap songs off the music selections, to discourage blacks from coming in there. So , someone in the neighborhood comes in, they have a drink, its expensive, they can’t find any of their favorite songs on the juke box, so they don’t come back. ‘
“I like to go to Vincent’s on the South Shore,” I told her. We had moved past the mailbox onto the pavement in front of a chain link fence. I linked my fingers in the fence wire for an anchor and moved back and forth as I faced her. ” I like the free buffet they have on Thursday nights. They charge five bucks and then the foods free. The women are so great….”
She kind of elbowed me and said, “But whose looking at the women?” She laughed.
“The men are even worse,” I responded.
“Where was your mother from?”
“I’m from a place just a little North of there, Donegal.”
“My family name is from there!” She told me how they pronounce it in the area were people first had that name. I told her how we say it around here now.
“My name’s McLaughlin, and around here I get people pronouncing it with an ‘f’ where the ‘g’ is. I say to them, ‘Do you see an ‘f’ in my name?’ ” I was holding onto the fence and very close to her. She smelled strongly of alcohol.
“So, what are you doing out here skating at this time of morning?” I was thrilled that I could make her curious.
I told her I woke up and didn’t know if it was day or night. She laughed. She’s a waitress in a bar, I think she’s met a few people who’ve lost track of time.
She said she had to get back to her boyfriend down the street. She asked my name, she shook my hand, with the impediment of a wrist guard. and said she was “Rosie.”
I skated away with a smile on my face. I never know who I’m going to meet on the street at five in the morning. I thought I was going to have the street to myself, but instead I went deer hunting with a ‘dear.’
As I skated out in the street I saw her skipping along towards the bottom of the hill – she dropped her camera, and turned and bent over to pick it up. I saw her disappear into one of the walks behind some hedges. So I made friends with a neighbor. Maybe that’s why she asked me if I skate every day….she’s seen me before. I hope I bump into her again, deer or not.
I realized that my coat of arms has a deer on it. So, is this animal my families talisman. Or is it totem. In ancient times did we call on the spirit of the deer to help give us swiftness and cunning and agility to escape our pursuers.
I hope so. I was faced with my totem. I was at the spot on that busy street that I have previously told my children I would die. I would be on skates, and it would be ten ten on the clock face. So the deer appeared to slow that unexpected black car and save me from my appointment with death. But, then, it was not ten ten. I was safe to enjoy a woman’s company – for one more day anyway.