Sketches of Ron Gosip and Others, p.1
Sketches of Ron Gosip and Others
By Kip Larcen
Copyright 2016 Kip Larcen
All characters and events depicted are fictitious
Table of Contents
Chapter I: Sketches
Chapter I: Sketches of Ron Gosip and Others
By Kip Larcen
In my opinion, many people look their best without makeup. While my own appearance would not support that sentiment, certainly it was true of Keli as she smiled from across the table. She was happy to be vacationing with me, even while she was unaware of my special plans for the evening.
In a previous visit to the resort by myself (business trip, I told Keli), I had met with the manager and made the arrangements; he would send a few employees around the town to invite random vacationers to attend a small summer concert, to be held in the resort’s garden.
Now, as the guests arrived, they were told to gather near the great balcony just before sunset, at which time they would witness a “romantic proposal”.
Keli and I had a drink, then walked out to the balcony, which was really a very large, raised, covered porch. The view of the garden and the sea beyond was spectacular, as always; the setting sun made it even more special.
“Nice turnout for a three piece band,” observed Keli. Perhaps two hundred spectators had arrived and were now gathering below us as we stood at the railing. “Why are they all crowding together up here?”
“Probably because they want to hear your answer,” I said.
“My answer?” she said, “Answer to what?”
By then I was on bended knee, holding out the ring which I had been protecting all evening. “I’m asking you,” I said to Keli, “would you marry me again?”
My wife of twenty years put her hands around mine; she said nothing, but the smile on her face gave me the answer I wanted.
I had not planned for Keli’s quiet response, but that was okay -- thanks to a lady in the audience with a perceptive eye and strong voice. She turned to the others and proclaimed the words for us, “She said yes!”
The people below, and those on the grand balcony with us, erupted in cheers, the way fans would after a winning goal by a famous athlete. But our crowd was cheering for us; we were the stars of the moment. Confetti fell from above, and corks popped from free Champaign all around us.
Free Champaign? Perhaps I would reconsider that. This plan of mine was getting expensive, I thought, as my full attention shifted back to the road in front of me. The proposal-scenario that had just gone through my mind needed another planning session, if it were to become reality. I was en route to that meeting now.
It was getting late on a summer night, and I was too drowsy to drive further. The group of ten small cabins where I stopped was surrounded by dunes, directly across the highway from a long, sandy beach.
The scene in the main lodge (where the owner lived) was quiet. A guest sat in a lobby-like area with a pen and paper, while an older man, reading a book, stood behind the front desk; a small sign there read, “Edwin Regel, Owner.” Two half-asleep dogs -- a large chocolate Lab and a small Terrier – lay near the door; they showed little interest in me.
“Let the man through,” said the owner, looking up from his book. “Willow, Popeye, come.”
But the canines could not be bothered. “’Popeye,’” I said observantly as I stepped around them, “must be the spotted one.”
“That’s right. ‘Piebald’ is the term,” said the owner. “Need lodging tonight?”
“Yes, sir,” I said, “This stretch of highway is longer than I thought. I made the same mistake about a year ago; maybe you remember me? I ended up staying here an extra day; spent some time at the beach. “
“Oh, sure, I remember,” said the owner. “You were the one who wanted to write a nice review for me.”
“Yes,” I said, remembering my fondness for the place, including, even, the sand parking lot and outdated decor. “But I wrote a 2-star review instead, since that’s what you wanted.”
“And now it is still nice and peaceful around here – exactly the way we like it,” said the owner, explaining further as he signed me in: “Many of my lodgers are repeats; they’re familiar with the place and even with each other. We don’t want to lose the quiet, community atmosphere. No, just keep the crowds away -- you did the right thing, Mr.…” he looked at my credit card, “Mr. Larcen,” he said. “In fact, I was just saying to the lodger from cabin number 4, here,” and he looked at the man in the lobby, then back at me, “I believe a person can be one of two kinds.
The first kind says, ‘I’ll do what’s best for me, because that will be right.’
The second kind says, ‘I’ll do what’s right, because that will be best for me.’”
“It’s a subtle difference,” added the lodger from number 4 as he wrote in his book, “but we see more of the second kind around here.”
“I believe you are correct about that, Number 4.” said the owner. “So, how are you coming with your masterpiece?”
“I’ve got it now. Hold on a minute.” he said. And after we waited a moment, he read to us what he had been writing:
From Regel Sands Resort, we send
A Good-Bye to our Lodger-Friend.
Free in spirit and in mind,
A first rate soul, (the second kind).
And when things fail to go our way,
We’ll think of what he used to say:
We are the sum of joy and strife,
So Debit hardship, Credit life.
“I like it,” said the owner. Then he explained to me, “You see, we just got word that one of our regular guests suddenly passed away. That’s why we have vacancy – we had been expecting him back this week. Anyway, many of us knew him, and Number 4 wanted to write a little eulogy.”
“Here you go,” said #4. He handed a notebook, which quickly caught my eye, to the owner.
“May I see that?” I asked. The owner laid the notebook on the desk, and then I reached into my satchel, got out my notebook, and placed it beside his. They matched exactly, the same brand and style – my style.
“That ends a mystery,” said the owner, picking up his notebook again. “This was found and turned in, about a year ago. There was no name in it, just a little story. So, you must be the one who wrote “Looking Glass?”
I corrected him, “Looking Back’, maybe?” He flipped over the first pages and we saw my year-old scrawling. “Yes,” I said, “I figured I had left it somewhere.”
“I’ll tell you,” said the owner, “this little notebook became popular with the patrons, here. After it went unclaimed for a time, one of the guests added a story to it. He signed with only his room number, and that became kind of a trend. Since then, every so often someone sits in here or on the beach, writes a little piece, and puts it in the notebook. And now we know it started with you. Say, I hope you don’t mind?”
“Not at all,” I answered, “I’d like to read the entries – may I borrow it?”
“Sure. It’s yours, after all.” said the owner. He handed me the notebook, and my room key. “Number fits you,” he said. Then, to my puzzled, tired look, he asked “Not a baseball fan?”
“Not especially,” I said.
The owner nodded. “Okay. Anyway, you’re next to the couple with the full dresser. Nice people.”
“I’m heading back, as well,” said #4.
He and I made the short walk to our rooms. For something to say, I asked him about the notebook, “Are the stories any good?”
“One -- about t
“I’ll check it out,” I replied. “Maybe a little reading will help me sleep.” And we said good-night.
Little Ike listened to the mantle clock as it ticked each second. The sound was comforting – as was the soft fabric of Grandma’s davenport. This “fancy” furniture was part of an atmosphere that was different, for Ike. Here, in the house where Mom was raised, things were more relaxed. Here, Ike and 3 brothers could play whatever games they wanted, without any chores to interrupt their fun.
And Ike’s parents, when they brought the kids to “Grandma and Grampa’s,” seemed happier, no longer yelling at each other about this or that. For them, these visits eased the burden of raising four youngsters, if only for a few weekends each summer. Of course, at age 5, Ike was not concerned with such details, but instead tried to be still under the blanket on Grandma’s sofa. Big brother had finished counting -- “Ready or not…!”
The conversations taking place in the main parlor seemed distant to Dr. Erica Cleasmenn, who was in a side room by herself. She sat on the edge of a chaise there, with one hand on its velvet armrest, and wondered whether she could, by curling up under the pillows beside her, avoid being discovered. But of course, at age 45…
“Come on, Ike,” said her brother, who appeared in the doorway without entering. “You can’t hide in there forever. People out here want to know, ‘who is that little brat in Mom’s old photographs?’”
Erica answered as she rose from the comfortable chair, “Don’t you mean the cute little brat? And how about the ugly big brother?”
“Bigger, older, and wiser,” he countered as he turned to rejoin the others.
As Erica followed him, she continued to spar, “Older and wilder, did you say?”
Standing tall in one corner, a Grandfather Clock measured time as the two walked out. The side room, with its fancy furniture, was vacant again.
“Where did the sun go?” she asked.
Marty Stalleus’s resort-neighbor was getting an item from her vehicle; Marty was retrieving a chair and beach towel from his. He didn’t realize she was addressing him.
“I said,” she began again, “where’d the sun go?” She walked around her truck, more into Marty’s view.
Marty glanced up at the mid-day sky. “Oh, yes,” he finally answered, “It was out, earlier, wasn’t it?” He should have continued the conversation, but, as often was the case, he did not know how. So they parted ways; she proceeded to her cabin, and Marty walked across the two-lane highway and down to the public beach. There, he set up his chair and began to take in the views and sounds of the Great Lake. Even with the cool breeze and clouds, it was relaxing.
After some minutes Marty was observing a single tiny ant working its way across the sand. Such a trivial spec, thought Marty. But as he watched his diminutive, 6-legged friend struggle, amusement turned to empathy, when a voice reminded Marty of his own insignificance.
“Marty, you are not famous, as I am. You have no power, no importance compared to Me. And your entire lifetime is a mere blink of an eye, to old El Mar.” Marty heard the Sea tell him this, but as often was the case, he could not think of a reply. Besides, he could not argue; it was true. Marty had nothing to brag about, no awards, no trophies. He had accomplished nothing that would long be remembered. Not even his career was noteworthy. And then Marty wondered to himself,
“Am I a good person?”
He had never posed this question before; there had never been a reason to ask it. Perhaps it should have been disconcerting that he was asking it now. Yet the question did not bother him, for the Sea could have been speaking to anyone; anyone would be insignificant, compared to old El Mar. All people were equal, by this logic. It was this egalitarian feeling which drew Marty to the Sea.
As for his original query, Marty would not give it further thought. The sun had re-appeared, and it was time for a swim. He therefore defaulted to a quick ruling in his favor.
Tim Novetes cared about details; that’s why he found law enforcement rewarding. He swore by three rules -- stay sharp, be observant, notice the small things. Take, for example, the cassette. Tim observed that it was worn from years of re-use; he could tell the probable day of its first recording by an old date in red ink, “Monday, 2-15-03.” It was a VHS tape, 6 hours long, and it now contained recent video of traffic on a highway just outside the city. Tim’s efforts to find a surveillance camera or eyewitness had turned up only this.
While he played the tape, Tim remembered the day’s events:
In the morning, while re-driving the highway in question, he had noticed a young man standing at the end of a long driveway; same as the day before, just standing there, watching cars as they passed by. On a hunch, Tim doubled back to speak with him, but by then, the young man had walked away.
Rolling up the driveway in his squad car, Tim noted the weathered buildings. The old farm house itself was in rough shape. The woman who answered the door was in “similar condition”, Tim thought to himself. About 50, she smelled of cigarettes and alcohol. The deputy politely introduced himself, then speaking over the sound of the television behind her, asked about the young man he had seen at the end of her driveway.
In a raspy voice, she drawled, “yeah, that’s my boy; was he too close to the road, or what?”
“No, ma’am,” Tim answered, “Actually, I’m looking for anyone who may have seen a certain vehicle go past here -- a van which was involved in a robbery. Perhaps your son may have noticed it, two days ago.”
“I doubt he’ll be much help. It ain’t as though he really pays attention to what he’s lookin’ at. He just likes to space out, ya know? It relaxes him. “
“Well, I think it’s worth a try, if you don’t mind,” Tim pressed.
“All right, fine then,” she said. “Come in, I’ll get him.”
The boy came out from his room, and simply said “Yes?”
Tim started. “Young man, I noticed you watching the traffic today and yesterday. Do you do that often?” There was no reply. The boy never looked up, but instead kept his eyes on his hand and the pen it was clutching. Tim tried again, “There was a certain vehicle that you might have seen, the day before last, if you were standing in your driveway the way you were today.” With eyes still lowered, the boy shrugged. Tim held out a photograph of the vehicle and the young man’s gaze moved to the picture.
Tim asked “Do you remember seeing a van like that? See the ladder on top, the orange light, company logo on the side?” The boy eyed the photo a while longer, then suddenly spun around and walked back to his room, closing the door behind him.
“Hah.” said his mother, now smoking a cigarette at the kitchen table. “I told you he wouldn’t be any help. She paused to take another drag. “What did you think,” she said, “that he’s some kinda Rain Man?” Then after exhaling through pursed lips, said “He’s just a kid with special needs, that’s all.”
Tim considered her comments. “Well, ma’am, I didn’t mean to upset anyone. If he should happen to remember anything about a van, please call this number.” The Deputy set his card on the table next to the bottle of Sherry. With a “Good day” he let himself out. On the porch, he paused to scan the old farm one more time. On the hillside, something caught his eye. At the very top of a windmill tower, there was a small rectangular box angled downward toward the road. “A camera?” Tim thought. He made the woman answer the door once again.
“Yeah, that’s a camera” she explained, and went back to her chair. “It records the cars,” she said, drawing out her answer as if it were a great task, “then, he can watch on TV, so he don’t have to stand out there all day. It was an old security system somewhere. His Old Man got it for us one year -- Claime
“Tapes?” Tim said, “Why didn’t you mention that before?”
“You didn’t ask.” She replied.
“Look,” The deputy said sternly, “could you find out whether there is a recording from Monday? That would be very helpful.” She crushed the last bit of her cigarette into the ash tray, and got up, “I’ll be right back.” A discussion could be heard from her son’s room. When she returned she brought the tape. “I believe this is the one….”
Tim’s focus returned to the video he was watching; there it was. His “hunch” had paid off. He glanced at the tape counter, and wrote the details on a pad, “White van of interest appears at two hours and fifteen minutes,” He put the note and the video tape into an envelope. The DA, thought Tim, would be pleased.
Dad Helps with School
Ron Gosip wanted his daughter to like school. So when he noticed her reading a book -- one that he remembered from his own high school days -- he saw an opportunity. Or so he thought.
Dad: Hey Cleri, I see you’re reading Lord of the Flies. Have you gotten to the part where Piggy dies? … I’m sorry. Spoiler Alert!
Cleri: Ah, yeah. That's okay, Dad.
Dad: Hey, if you want more to read, I have some other great books here...
Cleri: I’m good.
Dad: No really, you'll enjoy these.
Cleri: I don't like reading.
Dad: Yes you do, you love it! Here is Hamlet ...Here is Profiles in Courage (Holding each book out to her, then taking it back after she ignores.) Here is The Book of Job