Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Umbrella drinks

Last night I stared out the screen door, its rounded corners very much like a porthole, at the ragged clouds, their ripped parchment edges sepia stained with industrial incandescence and I was reminded of my days at sea, of the oceanic vastness brought so close, of a sea storm on the horizon like a stack of neatly folded clothes, of tidy and punctual sunsets.

The open windows of my land yacht were unfurled sails and as I fell asleep, with clouds swirling past my stateroom door, Marlowe and I slipped down the coast in an aluminum sloop. I dreamt I awoke in a hammock under a Bahamanian shade and Marlowe offered me an umbrella drink:
Marlowe: May I offer you this fine umbrella drink, Sir?

Me: Yes, thank you.

Marlowe: I think you'll find it delicious, Sir. It's straight from the toilet.

Me: Oh, goodness. Actually, may I just have a soda?

Marlowe: Of course, Sir. Anyting you want. What flavor?

Me: Flavor? Oh, um, a coke. Thank you. Also...where am I?

Marlowe: You're in paradise, mon. I'll go get you that coke. If there's anyting else you want you just let me know. Anyting.
When I woke this morning Marlowe stirred and stared at me with his crayon-painted lips smeared into a creepy grin from being pressed against my leg. I howled with frightened laughter and took the little beast in his fur pants down to the beach for a walk. Past the parking lot I unleashed him and he ran straight for the water's edge where a flock of shrill birds squeeled in unison "hey hey hey hey hey, I know I know, hey."

I met Marlowe on the sand, which is really just a bar of shoe-crushed shells, an ancient aquatic housing market, and we stared out into the bay past the derelict rigs and past the modern disciples fishing miraculously shallow for so far away, past the shelf where the water has enough character that it doesn't need to reflect the sky and finally sighs a deep blue. We squinted to stare further and then just closed our eyes and imagined seeing all the way down the coast.

We passed a man and a dog in an aluminum sloop and waved, but they couldn't see us. We blindly stared even further to a shaded hammock where a whiskered waiter served toilet water to a long-toed man in sandals. Marlowe looked up at me and wagged his tail. "You look like you could use an umbrella drink," I whispered to him just over the wind's corduroy breathing, and we headed back home.