Miller Time
Night School 107: Juneteenth
By Grady Miller
Feb 16, 2013 - 12:50:15 AM

HOLLYWOOD—It is inevitable. There comes the time you mature and cease being the person who moves on, always moving on, with the benediction and the longing envy of others towards that bright beckoning dream they have given up chasing. They stay, and you leave. But maybe it was time, at long last, for restless Jason to stay a while longer, and Sun Valley was his place. He was no kid—he had a kid now, and was on the lee side of 30, by a few months. It was time to settle, but move on he must. Jason was a tiger caged by compulsion or delusion. . .

 

In the cobalt dusk, a sooty and grimed blue truck from the Regal Waste Co., “Proudly Serving Beverly Hills,” chugged past. In the gathering shadows of the parking lot, there was McNutt in the front seat of his car drawing on a gleam of bottle. Jason moved on, less in cowardly fashion than obeying the exhilarating force of newly tasted freedom; he didn't stop and risk starting motor mouth. Mylanta came to scold him: Those we'd see as hindrances to our progress are really shepherds. The secret of a long happy life is to cherish the interruptions.

 

Jason stepped on a flyer for a rally downtown tomorrow, to protest the cuts in adult classes. Jason glanced down at it. Then the cell phone rang.

 

It was Candy:

 

“Why you lie to me about Juventino? How he gets his swimming pool and Mercedes car,” she was livid. “It's not Amway. He's not selling soap. It's drugs.”

 

“Candy, Candy, calm down,” Jason held her back, tried not to ripple her wave of words with his own, and withdrew into his serene cove of patience. “It's the American way, baby. Find your grift and go with it.”

 

There, he said it even if she didn't understand two words of it. Life was about yes: it wasn't about double-checking your facts, that the march around the school district headquarters glass spire, near the 110 freeway had no purpose, if it was true what Principal Cloud had said about summer school being saved by the bell, but let the people scream and shout, let them gather and hoist hand-painted banners, let them believe. And he would use the rally to do Cupid's bidding.

 

“Candy,” he said softly when her stream of spitfire words languished. “There's a rally downtown tomorrow at district headquarters. Maybe you'd like to go.” He was hangdog during a prolonged pause, seeing his wingtips badly in need of a shine.

 

“I'll pick you up,” he said, sweetening the invitation, and waited for her answer. “I didn't hear what you said, Candy. My phone is breaking up.”

 

And then he heard, through the crackling, a faint but distinct YES. He gleefully clapped his hands together after hanging up.

 

Fresh and free.

 

Buoyed by hope like a helium balloon.

 

Love is the promise.

 

The eternal promise.

 

Nothing is so real and tangible as the hope before the deal is inked, the role is cast. Luxuriant hope filled Jason from head to toe. He floored the Nissan Sentra and raced down the Hollywood Freeway.

 

(to be continued)




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