At my northern Boston home, night falls like a heavy quilt over a bed, but in Matlacha (say MAT-LA-SHAY) darkness comes in layered pastel waves of indigo, cobalt violet, cadmium yellow and orange. Dolphin rise near kayakers. Brown pelicans and dark cormorants land on pilings as fishermen and women drop their lines into the often biting smell of the current under the bridge. At dawn, when night retreats into the twisted mangrove roots it is hesitant to go, leaving tears on parked cars and trucks, over dumpsters, under boat trailers, on lanais, within cracked cement, and beneath the drooping fronds of aged palm trees.
According to Matlacha legend, an enchanted manatee lives in the pass. It is said the elusive creature regulates the tides, and is the mother of all other manatees—the West Indian, the Amazonian, the Dugong, the West African, and the Steller—from which every baby in the warm seas are born. If the night sky indeed has a home it is rumored it is protected by this giant sea cow.
I packed up my paints, brushes, easel, and canvas, ending a successful afternoon and evening of creative work—satisfied, fulfilled, emotionally exhausted.
“Hey, girl, caught you at the right time, didn’t I?” Jay Mann said.
I smiled. Jay’s head was so bald I couldn’t help but think of a baby buddha's head. The guy was handsome. Broad shouldered. Narrowed hipped. He was way too handsome on a night moonlight glistened across the water. I picked up my supply case.
“Here, let me get the easel.” The muscles of his deeply tanned upper arms rippled.
My new, uncompleted creation leaned against the wall near the door. “Sure. Thanks. But no peeking at the painting.”
“Scout’s honor.” He turned the handle and opened the door.
Jay was a local, talented sculptor who, like me, had his work in a couple of Matlacha and Fort Myers` galleries. We had an on and off again relationship. Some seasons I would come down and he would be involved with another gal—so I kept my distance. This season he was free. I’d only been here a week and he’d been at my door every night. I hadn’t made up my mind yet if I was up for him, but there was that moonlight and that dang emanating animal maleness—and the smell of course. His smell reminded me of snow white 800 count Egyptian sheets. His blue eyes seemed to devour my heart.
I walked to the kitchen table, set down my case and swirled my plaster of Paris yard art lucky piece, Gar, so that he faced the wall. Not that I thought he might see anything or nothing.
Jay’s hands gripped my shoulders and squeezed. Slowly, ever so slowly, I turned. Night rippled the calm waters of the pass.
jd daniel's Writing the Jessie Murphy Mystery Series is one of jd daniels latest passions. She co-edits Prairie Wolf Press Review and divides her time between her writing desk, yoga, walking and laughing with family and friends. Feel free to read her blog and contact her via her Website at www.live-from-jd.com