At the Alamo We Hear Sirens of Salvation
We lounged on the deck of the Alamo, sun glistening on the bayou in the womb of the dawn.
Dick and I rose early one Easter weekend.
The amigos cranked the boomboxes. Mexican accordion music penetrated our industrial-grade ear protectors.
Motors revved as the day's truck repairs began with the cracking of beers, the lighting of smokes, the rides to auto parts stores, the Spanish singsong over upraised hoods.
We felt neither woe nor worry, the biggest threat being an ill wind might blow us off our rockers.
A week before, Fred, head gringo in charge of the Alamo grounds, fell victim to the joy of drink.
Jose lifted him from the dirt, brushed him off and dragged him to a porch chair. Fred seemed to stick, but then tumbled over, bounced on the concrete and rolled off the porch, the chair clattering after him into the bushes.
Dust to dust. Fred returned to his natural state.
Dick and I looked at each other. There but for the grace of God . . .
We marveled at the miracle of 9-1-1, the sweet siren of hope, deliverance and resurrection.
But enough of fond remembrance. We had business this day to do, a matter of home improvements to our Eden of Alamo. In the untimely absence of Fred, we planned a bit of landscaping.
The ducks had taken to the fresh soil beneath our new banana trees, plopping droppings everywhere. Where once we had seven, we now had 70, thanks to Jose, who fed the beasts instead of letting nature take its cruel and culling course.
Trees done, we now planned to correct a government mistake.
The city had erected a No Dumping sign 100 feet from the Alamo. The gringos of our hood immediately filled the spot with ovens, sofas and tree limbs.
There, the amigos had acquired their barbecue grills, and Dick had found his front porch lounge.
But the location was inconvenient. We decided to move the No Dumping sign to the Alamo, in front of Dick's place. This would shorten the walk when the compound needed furnishings.
After long discussion of these and other matters, we dug up the sign about sunset. Dick and I soldiered toward the Alamo, his flip-flops slapping between road and heel, the shovel on his shoulder, the sign on mine.
The amigos, finished with a day of indulgence, prepared for a night of excess. Some had departed in their trucks on missions of resupply. Others stood upon a fresh landscape of cans and butts, shouting "Hola!" as Dick and I replanted the sign.
We got it straight enough for government work, swapped high fives all around and retired to the deck, pleased with another day's labor.
Alas, peace did not last. Calamity came, the squeal of tires, the squawk of ducks, the crash of metal, the crunch of mortar.
We leapt off the deck to see Jose and a gang of amigos scattering from a truck, which, in his enthusiasm to deliver a load of cold ones while consumed with the joy of drink, he had neglected to brake.
Jose had plowed over the No Dumping sign, across the courtyard and through the wall of Dick's barracks. The amigos vanished, a flutter of feathers in their wake.
Dick and I looked at each other.
He saw my face and said, "It's just a wall."
He astonished me sometimes, his heart for forgiveness. The years fell away. He shed the cruel charlatan of time. In the dew of his youth, Dick lived in another place.
Phil Lucas is executive editor of The News Herald in Panama City, Fla. Contact him at email@example.com. To find out more about Lucas and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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