Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Rock Star

“Nature Boy” by David Brega

The Rock Star (from a collection of short stories “My Life at The Marshfield Hills General Store”
by Sherry Campbell Bechtold, Copyright 2013

If they could see him now.  The ROCK STAR.  World famous lead singer of one of the greatest rock and roll bands in music history.  Flamboyant, effusive, that huge voice coming out of a mouth that easily spreads into a one of a kind smile that covers most of his face. 

This early Saturday morning, he’s out for an early run wearing rather ordinary gym pants and a ratty grey sweatshirt.  The spectacular rings are still there.  And, there’s that hair.  And the sunglasses.  Even without all the glamour and glitz, there’s no way he can be mistaken for an ‘ordinary’ citizen.  Today, though, he is doing an ordinary thing.  He’s just a guy out for a run, stopping in for a cup of coffee and a muffin. 
He’s safe here – free from the craziness of stardom.  This is off the record.  This is home.  It’s true that here – usually – no one really bothers him.  This may be one of the biggest reasons  he likes to live in our little Victorian Village on the South Shore of Boston.  He’s an accepted part of the scenery.  Sure, people like to wave and give a howdy to the Village Main Event.  “Hey Steven!  When’s the next tour?”  And, he loves to chat it up with the neighbors.  It’s also true that, when he comes into my store, it’s impossible to ignore his presence.  His personality just fills the space.  It’s who he is.
I ring up the sale, but of course he has no cash with him.  Not a problem.  Years ago, he set up his system with me.  When he does have some money on him, he gives me a bunch which I keep in a plastic margarine cup in the safe under the counter.  That way, he’s always covered.
“Thanks, Steven.  Have a good run.  Say ‘hi’ to Theresa for me”.  And he’s out the door, taking a left and walking down to the end of the porch, sipping his coffee as he meanders down our quiet, tree lined street with all its lovely, old homes. 
I did say that ‘usually’ no one bothers him. 
“Was that …….HIM??????”  Jim Harris bursts into the front door, fairly destroying the morning’s peaceful tone.  “Yes.  You missed him again.”  This guy has been trying to get face time with Steven for years.  Once, he staged a sit-in on the front porch for hours, claiming he would not leave until he met Steven.  I warned him that approach was probably not going to yield the desired result, that Steven was not ‘regular’ in that regard and could not be predicted.  He was having none of it.   He sat at the table on the porch until the store closed well after dark.  I guess his wife was looking for him and someone came to take him home.  And, here he was again, a victim of bad timing.
“DAMN!  I can’t BELIEVE it!”  Jim stands in the middle of the store like he just realized he threw away a winning lottery ticket.  “What if I just run after him?”  He says that, but perhaps realizes that he would be making a fool of himself and that would not be cool.  One does not want to be uncool with an international ROCK STAR.  So, he stands there, frozen in the moment when he almost met his hero.
“I don’t understand it, really”, I tell him. “Most everyone in the neighborhood has met him – either here, or at the movies, or at the supermarket, or on the road when he’s out for a walk, or at one of his kids school things.  It’s too bad, really.  You being such a big fan and all.” 
Jim hangs his head as though this is an acknowledgement of a personal failing.  “I guess I’ll just get a cup of coffee.”  Clearly he is crestfallen.
Pity overtakes me.  I reach under the counter and take out the margarine cup.  “Would you like to hold his private money stash for a minute?”.  He looks at me in disbelief.  “No way!”  “Yes, way.”  He gently touches the yellow and blue plastic cup with ‘Steven’ written across it in magic marker.  A touch closer to his idol, he smiles.

The North Rim…….

THE NORTH RIM from “Our Bucket List Adventure” by Sherry Campbell Bechtold

When we arrived at Jacob Lake, it was  already well into the afternoon and overcast  for the first time on our journey.  We faced a 40 mile drive to the North Rim and decided to “just go”.  We’re practically at the Grand Canyon for heaven’s sake.  Why wait another minute?
The road from the Lake to the Canyon is almost straightaway.  There are no other vehicles on the road.  There are no buildings along the way.  We drive – not in a hurry, but with purpose.  Dark clouds fill the vast sky and threaten rain – or worse.  Pine forests in the deepest green you can imagine frame the gold Aspens, bright as sunlight, opening to sweeping flaxen meadows.  It’s easy to imagine mule deer and antelope waiting in the shadows for dusk.  Somewhere along that long entrance road, we feel the world fall away behind us.  The radio is turned off and even the sounds of the truck engine fade into quiet.
In moments, we are transported into a parking lot not quite full of cars and RVs.   When we emerge from the truck, we realize the same magic Hush is outside too.  A few people chat imperceptibly and walk their barkless, well behaved dogs.  Even though there are no signs, we know where to go –  along a charming group of individual log cabins, pine trees and meandering walkways, leading to the beautiful North Rim Lodge.  Rustic.  Elegant.  A proud sentry for the North Rim.
A few steps around the Lodge and we’re on the stone patio overlooking the Canyon – indescribable, patient, bearing witness.
Miles away, on the South Rim and beyond, several rainstorms span the horizon, an occasional lightning strike connecting heaven and earth, distant thunder we can’t hear.  It takes some doing to adjust and begin to tune in to those around us.
A tour guide wearing an old cowboy hat easily entertains a few of his groupies with tales of past expeditions.  He hasn’t been home in 14 years.  Always on the road, a gypsy.  To our right, a delightful gentleman is engrossed in discussion of the Western Condor, which he has been hunting with his binoculars all day.
Tiny, fleeting life forms, we.   Destined to leave scarcely an echo in our wake.  We are blessed to be here.  In the face of this miracle, all we really have to offer is our gratitude.  Everyone seems to know that. There is a gentle comradery among us, above all there is reverence.
We learn that there is just enough time to drive to Royal Point for sunset, promised to be glorious because of the day long churning clouds.  After several miles of twists and turns on another lonely road, we find a small group of parked cars, and realize we need to get out and walk the rest of the way.  It’s so close to sunset, I’m worried I won’t get to the Point in time.  But the sights of Canyon and sky on both sides of this skywalk peninsula are intoxicating,  and I find my feet carrying me in that direction without hesitation.  I am entering into a state of Grace as I emerge from the walkway onto a stone platform.  Shafts of light cross the eastern Canyon walls, the rim brilliant against a charcoal backdrop, the plummeting depths of inner space, lost in darkness.  The western sky is a symphony of colors throwing a party with the setting Libra sun, as he whispers ‘goodnight’ and gathers the blankets around him.  
It’s almost dark when we rewind ourselves down the mountain and begin our slow drive over the plateau toward Jacob Lake through misty rain and intermittent fog.  A lone Coyote appears in our peripheral light in the meadow, and a little later, a Mule Deer catches sight of us and leaps through the tall grass toward the Aspens.  The fog clears, revealing a crystal clear night full of stars and directly in front of us, Big Dipper rests low on the horizon and is so enormous, I fancy myself walking through the meadow and reaching up to touch it.  Bliss.
I will live to wish I could return to this day time and time again.   And when the angels ask me to recall the thrill of them all, I will tell them I remember the North Rim.