Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bottom paint

"Ohhh, thank you Pedro." I hum with a smile into cooling evening air and sunlight, mid May, 6pm.
 "Your welcome, Senorita." He says.  He walks away and I look down at the bottle neck still smiling, remove the napkin and plastic shot cup, take a small sip then set it down on the parking lot curb, my scraps of sandpaper ruffle and skip in the 5 knot breath of a southerly, kissing its glass bottom, my converse shoes.  The autumn leaves of a marina in spring.
I smile.  With about as much effort as the southerly's breath.  That half smile of weariness and half formed thoughts.  I hear Pedro though I cannot see him anymore, behind the two boats down where he is working tonight.  Bottom painting.  We've both been set to bottom painting for our hours of the day into these hours of the approaching night.  A can sets down on pavement with a metallic scrape, a paint roller frame spins.
"Hey, better finish soon, if rain bothers you."
I laugh. "It doesn't!" 
Pedro's reply - the scratch of the paint tray shifting on the pavement, the paint roller frames spin.  A low dissatisfied "humf".  My mind wanders.  My task rolls by like the black paint, cooling air, dimming light, time.  I see him in my thoughts my movements his reflection.  I am once again the twenty-something starting up in the yard, living the old salts memories.  The "I was you", the "wear your damn respirator! God if I listened when I was your age...." the "pay the kid, don't you remember?", the tattooed memory, blending again the lines of a timeless tradition.
Pedro finishes before me, he waits at the bow of the catamaran as I make my way forward.  I am the reflection of his movements.  I "humf" at a chip I missed sanding, I double back - my cheek millimeters from the wet paint, smooth a sag. 
He waits until I step back and we both nod satisfied. 
"Good job." he says.  I grin.  "But next time work top first, remove the tape then start the bottom."
"I remember." I say.
"Good.  Now I tell you how to bill.  You listen, this guy, he doesn't like to pay...."

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