Guinotte Wise… High Bridge

 

High Bridge

He was scared shitless, up this high. But he was scared not to come up, off balance with the bucket of bolts, a drift pin and a wrench. The steelworkers above him placed angle-iron sides and he put the cross pieces on, an X, stuck the drift pin in a hole to secure it while he bolted the open holes. Then he’d tap the pin out, bolt that hole. Three inch angle iron was his footing. Climb up the X, do another one. No one used harnesses. It never occurred to him. OSHA was not a factor in the 1950’s.

He’d heard about steeplejacks and mountain climbers just letting go, relaxing backward to gravity, falling without a sound, no yelling. It was a rapture of some sort, a fuck you to fear. They gave themselves to the monster.

The wind was wilder up here. His hard hat blew off. He grabbed for it reflexively and lost his footing for an instant before he hooked an elbow on the X, hugging it while he watched the metal hat fall. The hard hat turned over and over in seeming slow motion as it fell, smaller and smaller: he saw it hit the deck a hundred feet below, a hundred and fifty, bounce off the plate steel, into the water, flashing in the sun. A couple of men tying steel below looked up, shading their eyes.

He left his bucket hooked to the X, climbed down X by X, slowly, shaking. When he got to the bottom he fell forward on all fours. He saw the foreman’s Red Wing boots, heard his voice, lowered so only he could hear, “You don’t like working high, you don’t have to, son. Hell, I got welders who won’t get up on a stepladder.”

 

Guinotte Wise has been a creative director in advertising most of his working life. A staid museum director once called him raffish, which he enthusiastically embraced. (the observation, not the director) Of course, he took up writing fiction.

Copyright © 2015 by So-in-so

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guinotte Wise… Transgressions

 

Transgression

Her tanned skin turned white over her knees as she knelt by the side of the pool. I held onto the tiled ridge, the water lapping about my shoulders.

“Your eyes are red,” she said.

“Chlorine. I’ve been in too long.”

I kissed her knee. Briefly. Softly. It seemed natural. She put her hand on my head. It felt like a benediction. Karherine was born in 1921. I was born in 1943. The year was 1965. It wasn’t that she was twice my age. Jesus, she looked like Lana Turner. Heads swiveled wherever she went. More problematic was that she was my mother-in-law.

“I’m going back to the room,” she said, pulling her dark glasses down over her eyes. She dropped her lighter, knelt again on one knee. She had a paperback, some lotion, the lighter, her drink. She kept dropping things. Then she scooped them roughly into a straw tote, stood, finished her drink, slopped the ice out onto a grassy area. One piece white suit cut high on the thighs. Legs like a Las Vegas showgirl. I let myself sink back into the pool. I watched her form undulate through the blue water, then swam away.

It seemed like the world was on the edge of a cliff. The only reason I wasn’t in Vietnam was my 2S classification, married, a kid. Not mine, I’d found out. The draft lottery could still get me. I almost wanted that if the war hadn’t been so futile. Blacks were on a short fuse. Feds were arresting my friends for pot-selling entrapment, and the sentence was medieval: life was over for them, they were running to Canada. Things were changing. A man had taken pictures of us in Mexico City. I’d noticed the sun on the lens. Then he took off.

 

Guinotte Wise has been a creative director in advertising most of his working life. A staid museum director once called him raffish, which he enthusiastically embraced. (the observation, not the director) Of course, he took up writing fiction.

Copyright © 2015 by Guinotte Wise