The Library - A Place to Revisit - Two
Two - A Touch Of The Blues
Early summer, the winds blow fiercely and frequently as the days became hotter. Not many homes in Kerawin have air conditioning; Jerry has ceiling fans in his house to try to combat the heat – they’re not very effective. The heat will intensify in a month or two - the people of the area put up with it. Some businesses have air-conditioning; it makes the working day a lot easier to get through.
That evening Jerry and Miriam eat a hearty meal with a little wine; after some small talk they speak at length – the wine helps Jerry to loosen up as he discovers more about her. She has been a librarian for many years, working elsewhere - a few years ago she moved with family to Kerawin. Her engagement to a former school colleague lasted a few months and since breaking it off she’s had several partners but never married. After dinner Jerry takes Miriam home in his old blue car; then he goes home.
The following day Jerry starts to feel cautious concerning his relationship with her; he feels unsure of himself due to a kind of neurosis that overcomes him. He suffers with arthritis in his hands and somehow in his mind this affliction translates into a sense of insecurity. As a man he doesn’t want to show this to anyone yet the debilitating feeling won’t go away.
I shouldn’t feel like this but I don’t have much confidence in myself right now he thinks, as the pain in the hands seems to increase. Jerry stares at his swollen knuckles – mostly he struggles to open bottles and cans and do things with his hands when the affliction is worse. He shrinks into himself for nearly a week and doesn’t contact Miriam or see any of his friends. He reads and watches TV a lot, moping about the house and staring morbidly at the vegetables growing outside, not feeling like picking any – cooking is not on his agenda either. It isn’t the first time this kind of apathy has assailed him, every now and then it affects his life in a detrimental way – he becomes reclusive, withdrawn.
It’s a Saturday morning, there’s a knock on the front door – it’s Alan.
“Hey, where’ve you been man, I tried to get you on the phone a few times?”
“I’ve been right here” is Jerry’s gloomy response.
“Is there something wrong, you shouldn’t hide away like this?”
“No, I’m fine, I’ve just been tired” is Jerry’s evasive reply. "Coffee?” he asks a curious Alan.
“Yeah, I’d like some coffee thanks – you look like hell.”
“Thanks, I feel like hell.”
“What’s the problem this time?”
“Okay, well if there’s nothing wrong we’ll go for a beer this evening.”
“We’ll see about that.”
During their coffee time Jerry explains about his sudden reluctance to see Miriam. Alan says he should see her regardless of health issues and negative feelings.
“Relying on your feelings all the time won't help you know” Alan remarks.
“I need to feel better first before seeing her again" Jerry replies, looking at the ground.
“No, you need to get yourself into action to feel better, I’m sure you know that.”
“Knowing something doesn’t always mean I'll do something about it.”
“Okay well how about a walk in the park as a start?”
“All right, let me just put on some walking shoes and we’ll head out” says Jerry.
They stroll to a nearby park where they walk for some time - the trees, plants and flowers are enchanting. Jerry starts to feel a little better, getting out of the house for a change. He realises he has to get over his malaise and carry on with his life. It is mid-day; they go to an hotel lounge for a beer then go their separate ways. When Jerry gets home he picks some vegetables to add to his supper that night; even his hands feel somewhat better. He will phone Miriam soon, quite soon, he decides, finally realising how absurd his behaviour has been.
A group of doves often perches in a tree in the garden - their cooing sounds impart a sense of tranquillity to Jerry when he sits outside on the back porch or rests on the bed some afternoons. Other birds visit the garden too – he doesn’t know all their names but likes observing them – as well as trying to keep them from eating the vegetables. Mostly they eat the worms in the lawn. Sitting on the back porch on Sunday afternoon he closes his eyes, drifting off momentarily.
It is some time before he is due to revisit the library – without any hesitation Jerry phones Miriam to see if they can get together. She sounds a little put-out, having not heard from him for some time but agrees to see him. Her mood lightens as they speak and make arrangements to meet soon.
Miriam lives with her mother and sister quite a distance from Jerry; he drives there after she’s finished work and meets them. They have some soup and rolls; later Jerry is able to be alone with her.
“What happened last week? She asks, “I didn’t hear a peep from you.”
“I wasn’t feeling so well” he replies, reluctant to tell her about his arthritis.
“What was wrong, did you have flu or something?”
He decides to tell her anyway.
“No, it’s my hands, I get arthritis in them and they were particularly painful last week.”
“Oh shame, there must be some treatment for them though!”
“Yes, I take medication but it doesn’t always help; must look at changing my diet I think.”
“I’ll look for some literature on it in the library, if you like?”
“Thanks that will be great; I can look it up on the internet as well, Google It, as they say.”
“Yes, of course, I hadn’t thought of that.”
“I’ve read up on it before but haven’t found the cure yet” he says, grinning slightly.
Tuesday morning quite early there is a loud thudding on the front door. It is Henk, a friend he sees occasionally. Jerry is already out of bed but hasn’t shaved or washed; he opens the door and stares disconcertedly at Henk.
“Howzit (Hi) Jerry, you better get up, it’s morning already!”
“Hi, I am up but wasn’t expecting visitors this time of the day.”
“Let’s go fishing; I’ve got a couple of rods in the car.”
“What, Fishing? You should have phoned yesterday to arrange a day for it, sorry but I have other plans.”
“What plans could be more important than going fishing?”
Henk is one of those friends about whom Jerry has mixed feelings. He can be okay at times but a lot of the time he works on everyone’s nerves. They’d been at school together, going back a long way. Jerry has never quite got used to Henks ways.
“I have to go to the library today” Jerry tells him.
“The library! That’s a lame excuse if I’ve ever heard one” Henk replies, laughing uproariously.
“Yes, well I have to go there to see someone; I also need to go to town to see to some things.”
“Ah, come on man, get your things together, we’re going fishing!”
“I’m not going!”
“Come on, what the heck’s wrong with you?”
“Sorry but I’m not going fishing, not today at least.”
They’re behaving like boys now, continuing to quarrel in this way for some time; eventually Jerry gives in and they go fishing at a nearby dam. He actually enjoys the outing; at the same time wishing Henk would be more considerate and make arrangements for such activities before the time. He doesn’t tell Henk about Miriam, thinking that he might just interfere in some way.
Now that Jerry is over his blues he hopes to see a lot more of Miriam. Henk soon finds out about their blossoming relationship; just as Jerry had feared, this old school friend begins to interfere.
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