"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stumpy's Spur--A Wrong Kind of Dance

Chapter 5
"Living in Darling is like living 30 years in the past. Will the 1990s ever get here?" Greg  complained  to Stumpy one Sunday morning.
"What's wrong with that?" Stumpy shot back. "You just miss all that hurry-up rat race of the big city where your blood pressure goes up? You ain' slowed down since you got here. Quit being so uptight and enjoy life."
Greg snapped back, ""I've been in a hurry all my life. And no matter what I do, it's not enough. I'm always afraid of what others will think about me."
 Always in a hurry to meet deadlines or get somewhere, he would drive out of his way to avoid stop lights, or long lines of traffic.
He knew he was obsessed about time, but blamed others. Over his computer was taped a piece of yellow legal paper with a quote from his old iron-disciplined Linotype instructor, Henry Darge: "The's the Darge way, and the wrong way." His father, also raised in the unforgiving, unbudging newspaper world of hot type, was equally as picky. His mother had believed you had to earn you way into heaven, or into anything else, with inflexible, punctual obedience to the rules.
"I should have been a Pharisee," Greg said as he ground his teeth. "All I do is hurry, hurry, hurry, trying to keep all the rules, no matter how small."
"You got too much religion, boy," Stumpy said. "You need to get out of the newspaper and out on the Spur's dance floor."
"Oh, that would do it," he said, laughing. He could imagine the reaction from Jeanne, who still hadn't gotten over his absence at church. "That would be a wrong kind of dance."

 Their move to Darling had been widely anticipated in the church where they were heavily recruited to teach Sunday school. They'd been there, every week, and Greg wasn't sure they were valued for their talent and presence, or because, as owners of the paper, their membership added prestige and perceived influence to the church. He only knew he was expected to be active, just as he was expected to run the newspaper, and to work for the town. 
He sometimes felt he had lived most of his life fulfilling other people's expectations... including Jeanne's expectations of perfect appearance at home. It was getting old. 
He had to admit this week's editorial had already jarred a lot of expectations.

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