American Stories. Boomer Episode 5. A Yareah Moon by the American author Dewey Edward Chester.
I rapped on her screen door then stood waiting, where the platform fell away. From below came the whir of a lawn mower. A man was cutting grass, at midnight! How strange that was.
A Yareah moon was bright so I could see him plainly, a hundred feet off, and down….as he stopped, rested on the lawnmower handle, then pushed it back across the grass.
I was restless, but Dianne came to me, only she had changed. She wore a tight-fitting skirt and kept hitching it up as she walked to my car. I had brought a limousine; a chauffeur and intimacy to whisk her into the night.
A trip like this was important. Dianne told me her story — and carried me vaguely
at first —-“This man!” was the one she loved. “That man,” was the man who saved her.
“Is he an American?” I asked.
“Oh, names! What do they matter?” she answered, “he’s no one as important as you are.”
But I learned the American lived in London, but was moving back. She was going to marry him. What she meant; he was to get a divorce; that was the reason for the delay.
“What about your first man?” I asked, “How did you get involved with him?”
“Oh, he was a blessing, from the time I was sixteen;” she explained….”The thing for me was to eat.”
Her stepmother presented her to an English Court. But soon after, died.
“London is harsh,” she said, “Oh, quite!”
“Was there nobody else?” I asked.
“There were friends,” she said, “in Scotland there’d been a soup kitchen.”
“But couldn’t you work?”
“I worked. I sold cars. Once I sold a car; but it’s hard over there. It’s so different from here. There’s the feeling that women like me force other women out of jobs. A woman even struck me when I tried to work in hotels.”
I declared, “You were presented to an English Court.”
“That was my stepmother’s doing. My father was killed in Scotland. He wrote a book called ‘The Last Spring.’ Ever hear of it? It’s really a good book. I get royalty checks every month.”
She told me how she’d met ‘The American,’ and finally ran away with him.
“You should never have gotten involved,” I replied cynically.
“Well, you see I ran away with a king.”
I was confused.
“My king was out of a job,” she laughed. “There are lots of kings in England, silly!” She laughed again then added, “He was attractive, ‘till he drank booze and raised hell.”
I asked, “What was he king of?”
She told me and I visualized the famous man’s face.
“He’s educated,” she offered, “but he wasn’t much of a king. Not nearly as much as you are. None of the men I’ve been with were like you!”
“You know what I mean,” she declared, “all of them felt so old-fashioned. They tried hard to keep up but they really couldn’t do it.”
While the woman talked, the chauffeur was guiding our limousine through the Liberty Tubes Tunnel, past the airport —- now we passed neon signs attached to roadside Inns. We held hands, she snuggles up and whispered: “I love you.”
But was I getting the story? “How long have you known ‘The American?” I asked.
“Oh,” she offered, “I knew him for several months. We met in the park. We understand each other, he likes to say.”
“Then why were you intimate with me?”
She hesitated…then spoke easily: “I like you. Then too, he was supposed to arrive, but suddenly he wired that he would take longer to come. I wanted to talk with you.”
I grew cold. “Are you in love with ‘The American?’ ” I asked.
“Oh yes! It’s absolutely been arranged. He saved my life and my reason. He’s moving around the world. I insisted on that.”
“Do you love him?”
“Oh yes, I’m definitely in love with him.”
Her, ‘Oh yes,’ told me she was not. It told me to speak up for myself; that she would be the judge.
I took her into my arms and kissed her, deliberately, on the mouth. I held her for a very long time. She was warm and cozy; like a fireplace is, with marsh mellows melting in hot chocolate.
We passed over ‘Suicide Bridge,’ with the high new fence in place. “I know what that is,” she said, “but how stupid! English people don’t murder themselves like that.”
The chauffeur turned our limo around in a driveway and started back home. The Yareah moon still lighted a dark sky. Neither of us spoke. Her words of kings had made me think of Cleveland’s Art museum, where swans swam right out front.
Dianne reminded me of swans. And Laura had never looked like that!
Dianne now stared at me. Her passionate eyes were asking a question: Shall I marry ‘The American?’ But I shifted my eyes away, and said: “Let’s go somewhere, after the game.”
She considered, then asked — “Sunday?”
“That’s right,” I said.
“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” she offered.
“No! Tell me now!” I was aggressive, “or I’ll be afraid —!”
“That I’ll write you a letter?” She laughed. “No, there’s no need for me to write you one, now. You know almost everything about me.”
“Almost?” I asked.
“Yes…almost. A few details.”
I wanted to know what those details were.
“He could have married you, immediately,” I spoke in protest.
“Oh, he was already married. And he wasn’t even romantic
I interrupted: “Am I?”
“Yes,” she replied unwillingly. “Part of you is. You reveal yourself… like most Black men do.”
“Don’t trust them,” I warned. “Black men change very fast.”
She looked concerned. “Do they?” she asked.
“Fast and at once,” I went on. “And nothing changes them back.”
“You frighten me. I have always felt secure with them.” She seemed insecure.
I held her hand. “Where shall we go?” I asked, up in the mountains? We can start Monday…”
“I’m confused, Michael. I’m not the same girl since I’ve been with you.”
I could have told her she had changed but decided a better time would be after the Chicago game.
She looked at me, strangely, with eyes that wandered from my forehead to my chin and back again. She did it up and down once more with that waving swan motion of her head.
This was the time and the place. I must seize it! I needed her. She could save me, and I would grow strong. But take her now, you fool! I thought. Tell her you love her. Tell her that, now!
For little did I know that far in the night, ‘The American’ had changed his plans; his train was speeding to Pittsburgh. His schedule was accurate. His engineer was on time. In the morning he would be here.
The chauffeur turned the shiny black limousine up the hill to Dianne’s house. The houses we passed looked warm, enveloped in darkness. My Soul was struck alert. I must walk into her home and tell her: “I love you, Dianne!”
And Dianne waited for me to say just that to her. As a British woman she was humble in the face of power. But she would only go so far. She held no illusion about my choice of women.
“We’ll go to the mountains,” I said finally. But I was holding back: Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?