35 - Your Own Pulse

Submitted by Ken Watts on Fri, 02/02/2007 - 08:56


Julie ran out to meet me from the restaurant.

She was a lot more confident on her home ground. I thought for a moment she was going to hug me, but she pulled herself to a stop about three feet away, and fell into place beside me. She was carrying a large conch shell.

"Hi," she said, not quite looking at me.

"Hi." I said.

She kicked some sand in the air, but didn't seem inclined to talk.

"Thanks for covering for me with Officer Barnes." I said, "You didn't have to do that."

She examined the shell in detail.

"You helped Tim and me with his uncle. I guess we're even."

We walked a way in silence.

"What do you have there?"

"A shell. You can hear the ocean in it." She ducked her head. "Sorry, everyone knows that."

I nodded, sagely.

"I used to carry one of those with me all the time," I said. "They're very beautiful, don't you think?"

"It's not really the ocean you hear," she said. "It's only your own pulse."

I laughed.

"Only? We'd all be better off if we spent more time listening to our own pulse, don't you think"

She ignored that.

"What happened to your shell?" she asked.

* * * * *

I did what I could to help them.

I cleaned up that back room and the kitchen, scraping years of grease off the stainless steel.

I put the grill stone to good use, and soon the grill was smooth and even again.

I cooked, and improved the menu considerably, adding fresh fish for one thing. Why they were only using frozen is beyond me.

I convinced Ann to put up a Christmas tree and helped her decorate it. Julie and I repainted the sign out by the highway.

Also, I joked with the customers, making them feel at home.

By the end of the week we were actually making money. Ann hired a cook, but now we needed two, so I stayed on.

Their house was just off the restaurant parking lot: an aging Cape Cod, overlooking the beach.

After I slept in the restaurant for a couple of nights, Ann let me move into their spare bedroom.