Robin "Jake" Lampe
My friend Miki is over visiting, and we sit on the soft, worn porch
steps, drinking ice cold soda. "Should have been there," she says.
"Quite a scandal. Janice showing up with that man." Miki always has a
good story, the latest. Miki has a wide, flat smile, which she flashes
easily. She makes it look so easy.
Our tomcat rises from the shade of the porch swing and comes to wind
his way in and around my legs. He has just returned from a week of
wandering, and his left ear is torn and bleeding.
"What was she wearing?" I ask. "Did they stay until the band stopped?"
And Miki tells me more about Janice and the foreign man, dirty dancing
and pretending like no one else is in the bar. Good for them, I think.
I picture them throwing their heads back, laughing loudly, the man
pulling Janice closer, both hands on her hips. I picture them making
love in some quiet field, on the edge of town, the sound of cicadas
surrounding their blanket. I picture me dancing in the tall, dry
prairie grass in that field, no eyes on me, moving to the beat of my
own drum as the saying goes. The grass reaches high under my wispy
dress and scratches at my bare legs.
Miki goes home to make peanut butter sandwiches for Mapa, her
daughter. The screen door slams; feet shuffle across the splintered
porch. The wood creaks when he reaches my side.
"I heard about Janice and that man," he says. "We used to dance,
I step to edge of the waving prairie grass to where the trees grow
tall and straight, packed dirt beneath their hard bodies. I run,
patting the dirt down more with my bare feet, from tree to tree,
grabbing their trunks with my arms and pulling myself around to hide.
Then I dart off to another tall dark, protector, slowing myself by
colliding with the rough bark. It's a different kind of dance, but a
dance all the same.
I picture Janice and the foreign man and Tomcat watching from a safe
distance, staring with his cold cat stare, glassy eyes that don't
blink even when the figures rise and step over him.
First published: February 1997