September 9, 2006

10:30 PM, and I’ve just finished work for the day. The house is quiet – Tracey’s had a hard work week and is already in bed, the rabbits are vegging out, the Red Sox have lost another meaningless game, and I’m ready for a swim.

It’s quiet out here – unusually quiet. No A/C units whirring their welcome cooling on a hot summer night, for there is no heat tonight. No pool filters churning, either: everyone must have reset their times to the fall schedule. Not exactly cool, but blissfully, no heat either. Strange.

I’ve got a glass of Pinot Grigio working, and the water is cool to the touch. I check the pool thermometer – it’s still 84 degrees, but somehow the feeling of it has changed.

There’s no breeze at all. The night is still, and a full moon provides all the illumination anyone could need out here – after all, when there are three walls surrounding you and not a whisper of humanity around to speak of, what is there to fear?

The sound of a freight train wails in the distance. I think, next to distant thunder and the sound of waves rushing onto a beach, is there a more calming, lonely sound in the world?

Planes pass overhead, and landing lights suddenly appear on one of the planes on approach above me. I wonder how that plane can seem so big to me, but to the people on board my house is just one of a million nondescript rooftops on a seemingly endless quilt below?

It’s weird not to hear the sounds of pool filters and central air units humming all around you – maybe fall isn’t that far away after all. But I’m not fooled – the heat will be back. There’s still a good month of 100+ degree days left.

I emerge from the pool and the air is blissfully cool to the skin. I take a sip of wine. Toweling off in the stillness, all of a sudden I’m thinking of that night in the French Quarter, sitting at the bar at Pat O’Brien’s and entertaining my fellow barmates with the sounds of the Beach Boys and the Doors. I’m thinking of how playing “Land Ho!” from the latter’s Morrison Hotel album brought smiles to a lot of faces. It really is a great tune:

Grandma loved a sailor, who sailed the frozen sea
Grandpa was that whaler and he took me on his knee
He said: “Son, I’m going crazy from livin’ on the land
Got to find my shipmates and walk on foreign sands”

This old man was graceful with silver in his smile
He smoked a briar pipe and he walked four country miles
Singing songs of shady sisters and old time liberty
Songs of love and songs of death and songs to set men free

I’ve got three ships and sixteen men
A course for ports unread
I’ll stand at mast, let north winds blow till half of us are dead
Land ho!

Well, if I get my hands on a dollar bill gonna buy a bottle and drink my fill
If I get my hands on a number five gonna skin that litlle girl alive
If I get my hand on a number two come back home and marry you
Marry you, marry you
Land… Land ho! Land… Land Ho!

A great pirate song, I think.

I give one last look at the moon reflecting on a tranquil swimming pool among swimming pools and houses and subdivisions and concrete in a dusty work-a-day Phoenix suburb and think about the pirate that lies dormant within me. Some day…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:20 | Comments Off on A Quiet Night
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