The Drifter’s Reef
Maddy Bolter, dressed in baggies, a plaid flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off at the shoulders, high top canvas basketball shoes and a baseball cap backwards, was 13 and all attitude. Wherever she went, She made as good an impression as a punk band in a nursing home. There was nothing bad about Maddy– she just didn’t vibrate on the same frequency as any other person in the known universe. She didn’t march to the beat of a different drummer. There were no drummers that could go where Maddy marched at least none had survived the audition.
She slid on into the Drifters Reef just off of the seedy strip that was the main drag in Weston.
“Hey girl! Whatchoo doin’ this fine day? You lookin’ off the charts.”
Reggie the bouncer, all muscle and easy slouch, addressed her with a nod and a smile.
“Jus’ looking for Debbie. She make it in today?”
“That is yo’ Momma you talkin’ about, right? You oughta call her momma or my mom or somethin’ seems like.”
“Is she here?” Maddy said with a little edge and then noticing the look from Reggie said, “My Mom that is.”
“I’ll get her. You know you not supposed to be in there unless you aged since I last seen ya.”
“Yeh, now I’m 21 so you gotta let me in right?”
“ I’ll get her. You wait out here with the rest of the jail bate.”
Maddy stuck her tongue out at him and crossed her eyes and then spread a wide fake smile.
“Some day I’m o take a picture of that face,” he said walking away into the bar. “Then you be sorry.”
She paced a little in the entryway next to the phones and newspaper rack.
“I thought I told you not to come around here. You know Marty don’t like it when I leave the table, and he don’t like kids around neither.” Her mother moved out of the dark bar thin and chesty with bleached blonde bangs. She talked fast and twangy.
“I’m sorry if my life interferes with your job, Debbie. But, a girl’s gotta eat and there is nothing at home but dog food. I need twenty to shop for a coupla days.”
“I’m sorry honey. Momma’s been busy. Here go get some stuff.” She pulled a bill out of her pocket, handed it to her and then snatched it back. “ But, don’t go gettin’ no junk. No sodas or candy. Jes sandwich stuff. I don’t like you cooking when I’m not there.”
“I am thirteen. I cook betteran you anyway, “ Maddy grabbed the twenty and ran. “See ya later.”
“I left you a note. You better read it!” Debbie called after her.
“I will if I can,” Maddy shouted back.
Her mom followed her down the street with her eyes. Her face tightened a little and she tucked in her lips as she turned, took a slow breath and headed back in.
“That girl is a firecracker,” Reggie said smiling paternally as Debbie passed him on her way back to her table.
“Yeh, she’s gonna set the world on fire, she don’t look out,” she said over her shoulder.
Maddie skipped down the street every now and then she did a little shuffle slide to avoid some people on the sidewalk.
Weston was a little speck of a town in between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz. They had the little low ball casino and a couple of other bars on the strip, two cheap motels, a grocery store, a hardware store and some fast food places. The Bolters lived just off the main drag which was highway 9 in a slightly sagging split level that Debbie had inherited from her father. All they had to pay were the taxes and make repairs which she did sometimes as the money and inclination hit her.
Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish
They looked through the cards some more and talked about what it all could mean that they came together like this. It was obvious that Random and Essie were the focal points, but they could not figure out the next step.
At about Midnight, Lucille showed them to the rooms. Lin was sound asleep. Steve tiptoed in and closed the door.
“That man is an angel,” Lucille said and Random could not figure out if she meant it figuratively or actually. At this point he was prepared to believe just about anything.
“This is your room. It’s my husband’s old study. I’ve fixed up the sleeper sofa for you,” she said as she turned on the light. It was a room nearly ceiling to floor of books on every wall. There was a window on one wall looking out onto the forest.
“When I die all this goes to the Rosecrutions,” Lucille motioned to include all of the books. In between some of the shelves were filing cabinets and a desk with papers still strewn about.
“I’ve been trying to organize his writing and research, but he was a sloppy man who ran from one project to the next,” she said with an almost sullen disappointment, “ I guess I should be more kind, but I am tired of the project and I miss the man.”
Random nodded sympathetically.
“But, this is not your problem,” she said suddenly smiling, “My advise to you is to watch your thoughts and dreams like a good fisherman watching for fish. I think that was what St. Rimauld wrote in his charge to the monks.”
Random smiled, “You’re sure do have a wide range of interests. Did you study Saints as well?”
“No, that was my husband’s forte, ancient Judeo-Christian and Islamic texts and mystic beliefs. The Kabala and such things. He used to say that every now and again to people who were in some kind of spiritual crisis or deep study.”
“Well I like books. So this room should suit me just fine,” Random said pushing down on the mattress that extended out from a chocolate brown sofa almost to the desk that was situated far enough from the wall to allow access to the overflowing bookshelves behind the antique swivel chair behind it.
“I wish you happy and productive dreaming, and thank you so very much for bringing my Karen to me.” Random could see tears misting her eyes as she stretched to kiss his cheek.
“You really are like a son to me now, whether you like it or not.”
“You know it was Steve who convinced me to do this. He told me it’s what I do.”
“He’s right, and he is my very own angelic son too,” she said with no equivocation. “You will both be in my heart whether or not I ever hear from you again after this.”
“Oh, you will hear from me. Steve you might have to get his number and call him every now and then. He’s a go with the flow kinda guy.”
“I get that about him,” Lucille smiled and backed out of the room.
“Try to get some sleep. I think you are going to need to be alert tomorrow,” she said in a tone which had a confident but ominous ring to it. She closed the door and her footsteps receded down the hall.