THE RAINBOW BEHIND US

            It was the first morning of our honeymoon.  We lingered on the balcony, overlooking Carmel-By-The-Sea.

            “Smell those pine trees,” I said needlessly.

            We sipped coffee, sitting at the little white table.  Sweet rolls lounged on a plate of china.

            “Remember that hawk?” you asked.

            “Yes.  Hard to believe.”

            “He was flying so close to the jet engines.  How could he take the noise?”

            “How could he keep up with us taking-off down the runway?  I never knew that hawks could fly so fast.”

            “It was like he was playing.  Like he was used to it.”

            “What kind of a hawk was he?”

            “A brown hawk?”

            “Wonderful.  Today we buy a bird-watcher’s book.”

            Yesterday, from an altitude of 31,000 feet, the ocean had been a sheet of satin.  The sky was a wall.  Clouds were far below, and we could see their shadows falling on the water.  I spotted a fishing boat, etching along beside a fog bank.

            Now we sipped our coffee in sunshine.

            “When you are up in a plane you are totally committed,” you philosophized.

            “Like marriage.”

            Dressed decently in robe only, I dialed for the limousine service.  You arose from your chair.

            “I must return to the Lady’s Dressing Room.”

            “Will I see you again?”

            “Give me two little minutes.”

            Even I liked the golden wash basins, molded into floral designs.  You had your three favorite perfumes, a full-length mirror, a towel array, and a plush rug.  Oh, yes, and a sunken bathtub with mood-lighting at your fingertips.  Were you “Rousing”?  Were you “Tranquil”?

            “What do you think, husband dear?”

            “Wow.  You look great.  That coat is simply elegant.  My darling, you have such a rare beauty.”

            I had been dressing, watching the big-screen TV.  There was a documentary about the first men on the moon.

            “Learning about ‘reentry’?” you smiled.

            “Yes, and ‘maximum heat’,” I leered.

            “Our grandchildren will honeymoon on the moon.”

            We departed our room.  We chose the circular stairway which swept into the lobby.  As we descended we saw Monty, our limousine driver.  He was studying the bronze sculpture gardens.

            “Beautiful morning,” he said.  “Would you like to have the sun roof open?”

            “Sure,” I said.

            “A little sounds nice,” you amended.

            The road swooped right and left, winging along the coastline.  Pine trees batted the sunshine overhead.  Villas came out from corners, castles came down from hilltops.

            “Look at those stained-glass windows,” you breathed.

            “We’ll stop for pictures any time you want.”

            We snuggled close and played a stereo cassette.  The ocean turned grey, with whitecaps.

            “We’re heading into some fog,” I observed.

            “It makes me think of other times and other places.”

            Monty said, “A lot of movie people live around here.  Clint Eastwood has a place just up ahead.”

            We drove into sunshine.  At the Look-Out-Point we parked.  Monty paid the meter.  You and I stood together beside the white fence, with halos of ocean spray behind us.  Monty snapped our pictures.  Seals barked and howled from the rocks.

            “Are they making fun of us?”

            “Pay no attention to those vagrants.”

            Seagulls hung from above, gawking.  I fed them by holding a sweet roll up in the air.  A hovering gull would bite hold of the other end and for a moment I would tether him like he was a kite.

            You pointed, “Look at those gulls standing over there in the puddle.  They think they’re pretty superior.

            “That’s their exclusive pool club.”

            We returned to the limousine and Monty drove us past the great golf course.  Near the marine research station the fog caught up with us and became rain.  Monty drove on to the “best restaurant on Monterey Bay”.

            “What a view!  California coastline as far as you can see.”

            “Look at all the rows of boats.  All those masts look like a forest.”

            Monty said, “This is the Monterey Bay Marina.”

            Inside the restaurant, in the middle of the room, was an actual fishing boat mounted with a manikin crew and seagulls carved from wood.  We sat near a large window.  Our table cloth was long and white.  The chairs were plush.  We studied the brunch menu.

            “It’s either Eggs Florentine or Halibut Tahitian for me,” I said.

            “An Avocado Club Sandwich sounds good.  But maybe I like Eggs Florentine, too.”

            Edward was our waiter.  He served us fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, pulpy and sweet.

            From the breadbasket you chose a warm slice of sourdough.  I claimed a raisin bagel.

            “Look at that: now it’s sunny here, but we can watch the rain sweeping over the north shore dunes.”

            Edward brought our fruit appetizers.  There was laughter in the middle of the room.  Near the fishing boat display was a table garrisoned with champagne bottles, a punch bowl, and a very big cake.

            Edward explained, “It’s our manager’s 20th Wedding Anniversary.”

            “That’s great,” I said.  “It’s our Honeymoon.”

            Into the dining room came the waiters, the hostesses, the chefs, the prep-cooks, and the bus-boys, assembling around the festive table.  A young woman climbed up onto the fishing boat.  The employees laughed and clapped.

            “A toast to Joe and Louise!  To Joe’s good taste.  To Louise, we love you.”

            Faces turned toward Joe who waved to the cheers.  Louise hugged his arm and wiped her eye.  Champagne punch, blocks of ice-cream, and wedges of gooey cake were happily divided and passed around.

            Joe came over to our table, “Hello, folks.  I’m Joseph, the manager here.  Rumor has it that you’re newlyweds?  Congratulations.”

            “We really like your restaurant.  What a location!”

            “Thank you.  Say, look at that down there.  That seal’s been chasing his tail all morning.  The other day we saw a mama otter swimming on her back holding her baby.  Cutest little thing.”

            “Talking about me again, Joe?”

            “This is Louise, my wife.  Louise, these folks here are newlyweds.”

            “How nice to have you.”

            I asked, “What are you getting each other for your 20th Anniversary?”

            “Our heads examined,” laughed Joe.

            Louise pinched his arm and said, “Don’t listen to him.  He is going to surprise me with a romantic train trip.”

            “I am?  I mean, how did you know?”

            Louise continued, “And a private compartment.”

            You and I spoke up, laughing together, “That is exactly what we plan to do in a few days!”

            “How wonderful.  Isn’t it, Joe?”

            “Sure.  And if you two get the chance, look inside the train station in Salinas.  Up high on the wall is this long mural done in mosaic.  It’s a picture of lettuce pickers working near a speeding train.”

            “Oh, yes,” said Louise, “And on the other wall is a mural of a rodeo, with marching soldiers, cowboys lassoing, and Indians riding horses.”

            Joe rubbed his chin.  “Only a block away from the station is the house of that fellow, Steinbeck, the writer.”

            Louise closed her eyes, “I could sit looking out the window of a moving train forever.”

            Edward poured our coffee while pulling his arm back slowly, letting the stream of coffee fall in a long arc.  He didn’t spill a drop.  We applauded.

            Edward pointed out the window, “A rainbow.”

            “Across the whole bay!”

            A friend of Joe and Louise was a photographer for the newspaper.  He took a picture of all of us together, with the rainbow behind us.

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