The main room of the house that was built in 1950 was atypically adorned for the year 2014 in a comforting way. One sofa, a piano, two lamps, one antique globe, four chairs, a kitchen table, and four onyx pedestals–the mineral, not the gem–displaying the Russian Baron Peter Klodt von Jurgensburg’s “The Horse Tamer” miniatures made up the room’s vertical trimmings. Hanging on the bland tan plaster walls were three framed images. One was a black and white movie poster capturing the famous coffee scene in Heat, another was a black and white poster of 1990s Metallica, and the third was a commissioned word-art photo–also black and white–of a TH-1H Huey bordered by friends’ well-wishing farewell comments and signatures, which received attention each time the owner was heady with wine. And there was a white board.
As usual, George, who was sporting a clean shaven chin, was standing, Pete, wearing just-before-itchy length stubble, sitting. They had just returned from viewing TC’s most recent film at the local theater.
“So, Mr. I-Like-Blondes, what’d you think of her?” Pete asked, looking up from his laptop while it woke up.
“Pretty hot,” George said.
“As you know, I’m not into blondes, but there was one scene which made me long for a woman again,” Pete said.
Smiling bigger than after bowling a strike, George said, “Oh yeah. The one where she’s doing that iso-pushup.”
“The one from the preview? Na, that’s not what I’m talking about,” Pete interrupted, derailing his friend’s excitement in favor of his own.
“What are you talking about then?”
“I’m talking about when she’s focusing on memorizing the plan that will allow her and TC to stay alive long enough to win. When they were in the bunker room…..planning area…..with the holographic thing,” he said, trying to jar George’s memory.
“Oh. I remember.”
“It just reminded me that it has been a long time since I have seen a woman really try hard. As in apply effort. Real effort. Care about doing it right. It was hot,” Pete said. He paused for only a moment, but it was long enough for him to sift through a decade’s worth of memories. Beginning again, he said, “I can remember memorizing the helicopter operational limits while on my commercial flights to my next training base. There were like 220 numbers that had no pattern. That kind of effort. Or I think I’ve told you about my first memory of Greeny. From back in college? It was an intramural flag football game and he was on the ground, laid out, fully extended with the football in one hand–all to gain a few extra inches. I don’t think the game even counted for anything. But I remember having the specific thought, ‘I want to be his friend.'”
“Yeah. Women just don’t do that. Or at least the ones we ever come across don’t,” George said, staring through the wall, past the front yard, across the dimly lit street, and into the unending night.
“Doesn’t matter where the effort is being applied, I would chase after a woman like that,” Pete concluded. Rejoining, he attempted old white man voice and quoted another sci-fi favorite of his day, “Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” George said. “See ya tomorrow man.”