Service Before Self by Tegon Maus- Excerpt
It was everything I could do to keep from running them both over in an attempt to get outside. I will always remember how good, how fresh, how wonderful that air tasted as I filled my lungs.
“Is good man know when wrong. You have Auggie's
respect,” he said, pulling his shoulders back proudly and then spit in his hand before offering it to Ryan.
To my shock, without a moment’s hesitation, Ryan spit in his as well and shook the man's hand.
“Come, tank is here,” Auggie said and made for the back of the house. He walked in an exaggerated manner, throwing his elbows far a side, moving his entire upper torso in doing so. He looked like a man who just found out he was the proud, new father of his first son.
I swallowed as much air as possible filling my lungs to the point of burning in hopes of washing away whatever I had been exposed too, washing it out of my life and if possible my memory.
As we turned the corner of the house we came face to face with a surprisingly large wooden gate. Anchored to an eight foot tall block wall, it appeared massive and surprisingly clean, almost new. Strapped across its face three large, black, oversized hinges and a matching lock… every old Arabian Night or Robin Hood movie I had ever seen cane to mind as we stood in front of it.
Auggie removed a set of keys from his pants, hunching his shoulders, hiding his hands and the keys
with his body as he turned the lock.
A loud thunk filled the still air followed quickly by a soft squeak from the hinges as the door opened slightly.
“You is okay. Auggie not sure for him,” he said earnestly pointing to me.
Ryan swung his head toward me and then back to Auggie.
“He's okay Auggie. He won't say a word… on my honor,” he answered, placing a hand on the gate.
“Ahh, your word like from the lips of God. Auggie have no worries, but…” Auggie whispered softly to Ryan, leaning closer.
“I understand,” Ryan answered, turning to me. “Let me see your hand,” he said grabbing me by the wrist.
Before I could react he turned my hand palm up and spit in it.
I was consumed with shock as the newly deposited puddle became warm to the touch.
Smiling broadly, Auggie spit in his in return before grabbing my hand, smearing the hot fluids between us.
“Is good. Now like brothers, Come, come,” he said eagerly, pushing the gate open wide.
On the other side, as the portal swung fully open, an astonishing panorama I could never have guessed filled our view.
At our feet, hidden under the edge of the thick gate, a redwood 2×4 held back a broad path of pea gravel. In this place all the trash, all the broken manifestations of humankind that existed beyond this wall, disappeared. Every inch had been filled with tropical foliage of every kind imaginable.
Somehow, on this side of the wall, the world was as it was in the beginning when everything was green and wild. Our gravel path twisted and turned, taking us through an ever thickening matting of growth, punctuated by the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. Because of their height and how thick the plants had grown it was difficult to tell how far we had traveled or how large an area we were involved in. Having locked and left the gate behind, the path had split several times, each new branch appearing to be much the same as the one we traveled.
A full ten minutes after entering this Eden, the path shifted becoming clean white sand. The plants
fell back further from the trail, no longer over lapping and hindering our way.
Amazed as I was upon seeing this side of the wall, I was blown away as the path opened up to what I could only describe as a beach. The largest, most beautiful plants of every color stretch skyward casting swaying shadows onto a circle of white beach sand. Approximately fifty feet or so across, I would have thought we had been magically transported to the tropics. Sitting dead center was a small, blue, plastic kiddy pool in pristine condition and full of water. Spread out next to it, a large, clean, colorful beach towel. Next to that a short beach chair and a cooler with ice and several bottles of unopened beer.
On the opposite side, a broad, stone waterfall, its top disappearing in the upper growth above it, filled the air with a cool mist and the relaxing sound of moving water. Sizable rocks caught the liquid, forming a pond before meandering off, vanishing somewhere into the under growth. Six large, impressive Koi swam in its depths, darting in and out of the many hiding places the water held.
I was about to say how impressed I was with our surroundings when a splash of color sped by me. As I turned to follow its path I was stunned to see, what I had assumed to be a parrot had landed on Auggie's shoulder.
As I stood, astonished by this turn of events, several other tropical birds appeared briefly before flying away to hide in the foliage.
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Wife, mother, grandma, blogger, all wrapped into one person, although it does not define her these are roles that are important to her. From empty nesters to living with our oldest and 2 grandchildren while our house is rebuilt after a house fire in 10/2018 my life is something new each day.