Punching At The Wind
A New Insertion For Fragments of Fiction
Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
The Wrestler– Bruce Springsteen
Johnny stood in the doorway and looked out at the cars driving by on the street and remembered days long gone by when he would jump in the Camaro and just drive.
He closed his eyes and remembered….Remembered what it was like to open the window and hit the freeway destination unknown. Remembered what it was like when he had nothing but freedom to do as he wished and countless hours within which to do it.
Those were days to remember. That car may not have been alive but it might as well have been a dog or a horse. It was a big part of him and it shared more than a few adventures. If those wheels could speak they would told a colorful tale or two.
They might have mentioned quiet moments in the mountains or sunsets painted across a bright blue sky and set against the sea. They might have spoken of the persons who spent time in those places and shared their thoughts about how they impacted and influenced the life of that driver.
And though there had been more than a few there was still only one who mattered more than the others. Just one whose memory had never left and whose name was never far from his lips. She had turned his life inside out and upside down.
They had sworn a blood vow to never let go of each other and had done the things that they could to ensure that it would last.
But that was then and this is now.
Life is nothing but a series of moments in time set against the backdrop of the people who share them. It was a lesson that Johnny had learned all too well. There had been moments of triumph and moments of tragedy. He had tales of sorrow, had gained and garnered more than a few scars.
That is what happens when you live and love. Sometimes you come out of these moments feeling like you are a one armed boxer punching at the breeze and sometimes you come out carrying the grand prize. The trick and the challenge lies in recognizing those moments for what they are.
They say that those who do it well find life to be easier and more enjoyable, or so it was said. Johnny didn’t necessarily buy into it wholeheartedly. He tended to believe that in order to enjoy and appreciate the sweetness of life you had to experience some of the other side.
Not to mention that even if you recognize the moments you still have to be willing, ready and able to take advantage of the moment. And that was one thing that tied all people together- missed opportunity.
It was something that he knew about and had experienced. It happened back in that past life he used to live. Back when he and June had shared their hearts and lived a life together.
They had missed their window or at least that was the explanation she gave for leaving him. Well, it was one of them. She had thrown out a bunch of other reasons and excuses for why they couldn’t be. With the perspective of time it was possible for Johnny to see more clearly how things had unfolded and to recognize how close they had come to overcoming the consequences of their confusion.
One step to the left and a jump to the right would have helped them to avoid a few of those land mines and had they done that the harsh words they exchanged might not have been uttered. But that hadn’t happened and instead they had gone down that same rocky path that so many other couples walked upon.
Battered and bruised they turned away from each other. Stopped talking and ceased communicating. Two people who used to hate not being in touch learned how to be alone and apart.
It was the picture of June in the blue dress that changed things for Johnny. He came across it unexpectedly and was surprised by the reaction it caused in him. She was simply stunning and it took great effort on his part not to pick up the telephone to try and call her.
The pain of the disconnect and the distance came rushing back. For a moment he let himself bathe in it. He looked at her picture, remembered what it was like to kiss her and got lost in memory. What had once seemed impossible had happened.
All these years later he could hear June tell him to promise to find her no matter what happened. Remembered laughing at her and asking what he should say if she wouldn’t talk to him. She told him to remember that she would be mean. Said that he should ignore that and remember that she wasn’t being a bitch because she didn’t love him but because she did.
He said that was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard and she told him to shut up and listen. “Shut up and listen” had turned into a joke for them with deep meaning behind it. If ever they had a fight it was something that one or both of them said.
Johnny stared at the picture and said the words out loud “Shut up and listen.” As expected there was no response. So he took a deep breath and told himself that it was time to return to reality. June was living her life and he was living his.
Later that night as he went to sleep he swore that he heard her say “Shut up and listen” and then promptly dreamed about the reunion that they always knew would take place.
When he woke up in the morning he didn’t remember the dream but in the back of his mind he still felt her touch and wondered if somewhere she could feel his.