Ain't Nobody's Business if I Do
There was always something spiritual in my walks along the oceanside. The respect shown for the mothers during turtle nesting season was palpable. Along the beachfront lighting is subdued and amber-hued for them. They ask people to close curtains and to refrain from cell phone and flashlight use on the beach. What could be holier than this?
My winter trips to South Florida took me to a safe place where my anonymous self could sit poolside and forget. When I ventured out into the neighborhood near the beach, I relished my aimlessness, discovering new places to frequent, people watch, and write. One day I sat inside a Greek café watching sunbathers lather themselves. A man came up to me yelling: “Get out of here” over and over. The staff tried to get him to leave but he persisted. “Get out!” I took what was left of my croissant and coffee and left shaking my head, thanking the employees who tried to help out.
Coming from Chicago, I knew when I was truly threatened and this wasn’t one of those times. I continued my walk and looped back, passing the café. Sitting on the sidewalk was the man, now nodded off, who’d yelled at me, a large 7 Eleven cup precariously balanced on his stomach. I dropped a couple of dollars in it and headed back to the resort where I could pretend no one was sitting anywhere on cardboard on a sidewalk looking for redemption.
Such a festive atmosphere! This cosmopolitan enclave. This part of Florida was its own blue state within a state that…well, I don’t know what to say. Lately, I’ve had to ignore the nasty remarks about my plans of moving to Florida by hard-core liberals who shun me for entering its boundaries. Even so, I’m glad I don’t see things so simply. “Where I’m going is the southernmost borough of New York,” I say. They look at me clueless. Now I strolled down Los Olas Boulevard listening to the sounds of music from many different cultures. The palms and quiet parrots listened also.
I walked past the tourist district into the neighborhoods. On the curb by a Pizza Hut sat a young girl. She clung to something in her arms as an angry mother shouted, “Give it to me.” The girl started to cry and the mother slapped her across the face. A few other bystanders slowed to witness what should have been an embarrassing act of child abuse, but we knew the mother was beyond caring what people thought. None of us knew if we should intervene, but before any of us had a chance, the woman roughly grabbed the child by the arm and yanked her down the street.
I decided it was time to head back for the night. I passed tourists sipping wine at white tablecloth restaurants open to the outside. Boisterous laughter came from those enjoying the ambiance of a perfect evening in the brightly-lit up-evening, desiring nothing more. I looked down and saw a peeled orange on the sidewalk. Nothing surprised me in this place. In this warm hum.
My favorite place to stay was the Grand Resort and Spa. Us boys hung out soaking up the atmosphere and seeing what drama we could live vicariously. One example had just occurred in the form of an ugly argument we’d just witnessed between a guest and a staff member; we spoke over one another in a flash flurry of gossip about this jerk—this entitled, petty not-all-that-good-looking drama queen—who stood there in an ugly, loose passé swimsuit. My friend Larry was, as usual, chomping at the bit to know what we’d just witnessed. He approached the office where the hostile encounter had occurred and asked Sean, the employee, in a roundabout way which he’d mastered years ago, what the dispute had been about.
Of course, the man should have kept this all strictly confidential, but after taking a deep breath to think of his response, he said, “His bed cover wasn’t folded back at the top by one foot like he’d requested.” Larry was speechless for the first time in years. The next morning, I got up early and went into the office for no particular reason. I thumbed through a couple of gay rags. Then I noticed an embarrassment of riches in the form of a gorgeous and gigantic floral arrangement in an expensive vase. A little card hung from the ornate container. “Wow,” I exclaimed drawing closer.
Tony, behind the counter, said, “Those were special delivered to Sean.”
“The guy from yesterday’s war of words?”
His discretion abandoned, he nodded slightly.
I must admit, and my friends agreed after this new intel had passed around, we didn’t think someone like him could pull an apology out of his ass. “Wonders never cease!” Gary exclaimed fluttering his right hand as if he were cooling himself with a fan. “Do they?”
Marc Frazier has published poetry in over a hundred literary journals. He’s also published memoir, fiction, essays and reviews of poetry collections. Marc, the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two “best of the nets.” He is a Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ writer whose three full-length poetry collections are available online. He’s active on social media especially his Marc Frazier Author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/poetmarcfrazier