August 4, 2000
THE RAINBOW CHRONICLES
By Jeannine Diego
"And you've only read two? I can't believe it. Sal! We have got to read the rest of the postcards, I mean, this is like aren't you curious?"
Geri was practically bouncing, like a child pleading for another bedtime story- please, please, then I promise I'll go to sleep- before which Sal felt like the dull-yet-sensible grandfather, accordingly responding, "I suppose so, but don't you feel like we're intruding?" He already knew the answer.
"Intruding? Oh, come on, Sal. Don't be such a heel. Really! You couldn't have kept all this stuff thinking this Sarita person would one day come knocking on your door after so many years, to ask for her mail? Besides, they're postcards, Sal. No one writes anything private on the back of a postcard. You can't possibly think you're violating this woman's privacy by reading oh, my God. You do, don't you? You really feel like you're doing something wrong!?" Geri's enthusiasm had turned to disbelief. She gaped at Sal, who in turn put his drink down carefully. He feared that he would soon be speaking under the influence rather than just thinking under it, which at that point would have sounded like: Ya know? Funny you should mention it. Why, yes, in fact, I am a heel! What gave it away? Was it the spasms, or just the veins that popped out of my forehead when you suggested that we read the other postcards, just now? He searched the sober part of his brain for something that would redeem him, "Of course not. No, of course not. I just I mean, I do kind of feel like it's an intrusion, but well, it is, but, anyway, that's not the reason why I haven't read them... all of them. It's just that I didn't find them that interesting- the postcards, I mean. They're not that interesting."
Geri hadn't bought it. "Oh, really? Then why'd you already read some? Why'd you bring the box out for me to see? You could've just mentioned asked me if I knew who Sarita was." There was no way out of this one, Sal thought. But he wasn't ready to give up. I mean, what is she thinking? That she can just come waltzing back into this house and shove me up against the wall with her questions and her criticisms? He wasn't having it. "Oh, come on, Geri. Are you kidding? You are kidding, right? If I brought the shoe box out at all, it was because well, no reason, really. Just to show you. I thought that maybe you knew who "
"Alright, Sal. It's okay," Geri interrupted, as she rose up from the couch, "Really. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to attack you." Sal wasn't quite sure how Geri meant what she'd said, but he figured he was better off just to accept the literal interpretation. Geri produced a short sigh, and concluded, "Okay, then. See you tomorrow. Bye. Oh, and thanks for the Scotch." Sal nodded and smiled back awkwardly, without a word and confused for a second time. Tomorrow? What's tomorrow? Did we agree to meet? When? Too embarrassed to ask, he let the door close behind Geri and figured that, this time, he was better off just to accept the figurative interpretation. `See you tomorrow' -it was just something people say without thinking. After all, they were neighbors, thought Sal, and they saw each other all the time, right? But, then why not `see you later' or just plain `see you'? Then again, why did he care? What was the big deal? Was it that he could no longer guard his space, that he felt an invasion coming on? Geri was somewhat invasive, he mulled on the other hand, she was sensitive. Enough that she hadn't once mentioned Lauren, despite having practically been a second mother to her after Mary's passing. Geri had known not to say a word. She knew it would be too painful for Sal to talk about it. She knew him. That was precisely it. Geri knew Sal. The thought was discomforting.
Sal sank back into the couch, grabbing the newspaper he'd left on the floor next to it. He glanced, flipped, glanced, flipped. He couldn't focus. He didn't have his eyeglasses on, he realized. Absentmindedly, he placed them on his nose and flipped and glanced and flipped some more. It wasn't his eyes that couldn't focus. Sal put the paper aside and stared at the `Sarita' shoe box. One by one, he exhumed all the postcards. Gathering them in a neat pile, he tapped the bottom side of the stack on the end table and placed them next to the now almost empty bottle of Jim Beam. He stood, grabbed his keys and headed for the door. If Geri was to come by tomorrow, he'd have to have something more appropriate to offer by way of beverages, of course.
.to be continued .
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rainbow Chronicles is a sponsored project of inSITE2000, a non-profit arts organization operating in both San Diego and Tijuana. The Chronicles will be published in La Prensa San Diego for 19 weeks. For information on the project visit www.insite2000.org.)