June 2006

Wally Part V

Walter spent the first few days in the rose garden completely silent.

For the first time in a long time though his silence was not due to having nothing to say. In fact, it was completely the opposite. For the first time in a very long time, Walter found that he had so much that he wanted to say, but that he simply couldn’t conjure up the right combination of words.

Much to Walters combined delight and dismay, Anne had revealed herself to not only have the visage of an angel, but the soul of one as well. While Walter remained sheepishly silent every day that he visited the farm, Anne made a point of coming out on every single occasion and talking to Walter.

For the longest time, Walter would silently nod his head in agreement to whatever it was that Anne was talking about. Normally, Anne would go on long speeches about politics or what she had read in the newspaper that day or what she had heard on the radio the night before. Anne was an intellectual and Walter had not really known any of those before. Walter would silently listen to all she had to say as he tried to keep up with what she was saying. And while Walter played his appearance as coolly as he possibly could, at night he would stop at the gas station on the way to his little room at the hotel, pick up the days paper and spend hours sitting in an old rocking chair listening to the radio in a desperate attempt to keep up with all of the things that Anne had gold him about.

Walter looked forward to his trips out to Anne’s farm, and he was always cautiously aware of her father’s never visible but always present presence. That was one of the many reasons that Walter told himself he found it so difficult to speak to Anne. In reality, Walter knew that it was nothing more than an excuse.

In those rare moments that Walter was honest with himself about Anne, he knew that the real reason that he found himself at such a complete loss of words with Anne was simply that she was so completely wonderful, Walter feared that if he opened his mouth, he would immediately find a way to prove himself unworthy of any form of her attention.

Walter would spend his nights trying to understand why it was that without fail she came out every day and would spend hours talking to him when all he ever responded with was a nod or a grunt.

But Walter could barely contain his secret excitement as he would drive out to the farm twice a week, and the time passed.

And with that passage of time, Walter quickly found himself facing yet another dilemma.

His green thumb was quickly turning into something of a curse, as the ruins of the prize winning rose garden were quickly springing back to their former glory under his care. Walter knew that in no time at all, the garden would have recovered to the point where his regular visits would no longer be needed. The roses were very strong, and very soon, even someone with the blackest of thumbs would be able to maintain it. Walter knew that Anne would be more than capable of the maintenance that the roses would need, and he found himself in the paradoxical position where he was quickly removing all of his reasons to continue to drive the dusty road to the old farmhouse.

As soon as Walter realized this, on every visit he would try and muster all of his courage on the drive out and convince himself that he would find something to say that would not cause Anne to realize how unworthy of her attentions he actually was. And without fail, every time Walter would promise himself that today would be the day he did so, as soon as he found himself face to face with his angel, he would immediately lose all the powers of speech that he convinced himself that he had once possessed.

And the time passed some more, and the roses flourished.

Walter was a man of conscience, and while some might have entertained the notion of finding ways to prolong their work, Walter in no way sacrificed his work ethic in an attempt to avoid the inevitable.

And finally, the day came when Walter knew that his reparatory work had been completed and that he would have to tell Anne that she would be more than able to handle the roses care from there on in.

The whole drive out to the farm, Walter was dreading the inevitable.

When he pulled into the driveway, Anne was already standing there waiting for him. She was wearing a yellow and white cotton dress that caught what was passing for wind that day enough for it to sway just slightly.

As always, she was an absolute vision.

Walter stepped out of his truck and Anne offered her customary “Good afternoon Walter”.

“Afternoon Ma’am” Walter replied.

Walter walked over to the roses bushes and crouched to pull out a couple of small weeds.

“Well ma’am, I have to say that these roses have come about as far as I can take them. All they need now is a little water now and then and they should pretty much take care of themselves. I’ve never seen roses quite as strong as this, but these ones here don’t much need my help anymore. You’ll do fine to take care of them on your own I think and it’ll save you what you pay me. It isn’t quite right for me to keep taking your money anymore, so this should be my last day out here.”

Anne looked at the roses and smiled a little smile before turning slightly and staring off into the horizon. The sun was beating down on the two of them and while a bead of sweat ran down Walters forehead, Anne looked as if she didn’t feel the heat in the slightest.

“These were my mothers roses, you know that Walter?”

“Yes ma’am”.

A silence descended on the two of them. Anne simply continued staring off into the horizon, and Walter noticed that a tear was beginning to make its way down her cheek.

“I miss my mother terribly”.

Walter wasn’t quite sure what to say to such a simple statement. The silence again descended and Walter racked his brain for something to say to offer some comfort to Anne.

And then, in a flash, Walter found words.

“I miss my mother too ma’am”.

Anne turned her head and looked down at Walter.

“Tell me about her please?”

And so Walter did, he told her the entire story of his mothers life.

And with the telling of that story, Walter found that he was not only speaking to Anne, but he had finally found the connection that he had been so desperately seeking.

The two of them talked for the whole afternoon, and when the sun was setting and the two of them both knew that it was time for Anne to make sure that her father got his dinner, Anne thanked Walter for his words and his time. Walter told her that it was his pleasure and that he would miss the roses.

Anne smiled and began to walk back to the house. She only took a couple of steps before she stopped and turned and smiled again.

“Walter, I think that I’m not quite ready to take care of these roses on my own. I know that you don’t think that I much need you anymore, but I think that I do. If you’re willing, I would like you to keep up on your care of the roses, but I do have one condition.”

Walter took off his hat and did his best to suppress the grin that he could feel welling up, “Anything ma’am”.

“If you’re going to keep coming out here you’re going to have to break your habit of “yes ma’am”, “no ma’am”. I quite enjoyed your company today and I would like to keep doing so, so if you’re prepared to continue coming out here, you’d better be ready for that”.

Walter smiled.

“Yes ma’am, I can certainly do that”.

And with that, a whole new chapter of Walters’s life opened up before him.