The Heart Trilogy

L. Rehfuss

© Copyright 2014 by  L. Rehfuss   


Photo of a couple holding hands.


1. To make a declaration under oath; give sworn testimony;
2. To serve as evidence;
3. To declare publicly


I had known Gary for over two years. During that time, we ate Mexican dinners, consumed a few bottles of wine, watched the clouds roll over the Texas sky, held hands in the car, and debated life issues with a fever. Gary and I also told each other our secrets, but not all of them.

We were plain platonic friends.

When he kissed me on my cheek that warm November night and told me he was going to miss me, I sealed the words in my heart as the rest of me took flight. I moved to Boston the next day. I could scarcely believe it when a month later I looked back and wondered.

Then Gary called.

Would I care to meet up with him on a small island in Mexico that they frequented each year? I jumped at the chance. Not only had it been a long time since I had a qualified vacation, but I missed my friend.

Off to Mexico with a knapsack and a desire.

A desire? What was I looking for, pray tell? Was Gary to be my companion, my soul mate, my forever? I don't know. Maybe I just wanted an acknowledgment that there was something more than mere friendship between us. Certainly Gary had felt this too, no?

It was what wasn't said that truly ended the trip. I remember sitting in the islands small airport recovering from a 24-hour bug and finding strength in the pole behind me. On a crackled intercom system the strains of a song I had already determined was our song, played.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I hadn't said all the things that I had planned to say in our eight days on the island. Gary hadn't said anything either. And he told me there were thoughts he wished he could share with me. About us!

Gary handed me a cup of ice, hoping this would make me feel better. Unfortunately, he was thinking of different aches than I was. As the passengers were called to the plane, he kissed the top of my head and helped me to my feet. We held hands. I knew it was never going to be the same, and still I couldn't get the words out of my mouth. He squeezed my hand and told me he would be in touch. I wanted to hold on to him, but we were just friends, weren't we?

A year later, Gary found me.

We held hands.

We talked endlessly.

He slept on the couch.

I dreamt of what could be, and he left five days later. Again, both of us proclaiming there were things to be said but never getting around to saying them.

I know he won't return.

Not this time.

No, the next time I need to find him.

He’s been to Africa, Chicago, Seattle, Albuquerque, El Salvador and then I lost track of him. Frankly, he could be anywhere.

Gary and I are good friends. We tell each other our secrets, but not all of them. If you come across Gary Garmisa, please tell him I'm ready to testify.


Navigating an unfamiliar street teeming with 9am workers on an 8am schedule isn't easy. Throngs circle, dodge, jostle, wind and whine pass. It's already a hectic day. A quick glance towards a street sign when reaching the curb seems to be the only time a breath of air is ever really taken.

Then a roar more agonizing than proud, erupts.

Straining my neck I can see him 1/2 a block down. He stands over 6'5.” Enormous. Brown scanky hair falls shoulder length onto clothes that have had two, too many owners and a body which has seen too few showers.

Settling on his reflection in a store window, people are giving this man wide berth as they reposition the flow of pedestrian traffic.

'This is just my luck'. I lower my head, take a half step onto the curb and walk along its edge.

'Figures'. Placing one foot in front of the other to ensure no misstep into traffic, my attention focuses on the task at hand.

Given my location it would take a miracle for him to see me but 'chuckle', it would take a miracle for him not to see me.

No matter the time, place or setting it seems a certain type of person is attracted to me. Mentally challenged individuals have harmlessly felt my breast, talked to me about living on Saturn with all its' outer rings to protect us and spittled-spoke a form of rap at me. No problem.

It's just a few of them - like the roarer up ahead - that make me squirm.

"Stella!" "Darling Stella!"

A mammoth hand is placed on my shoulder. I look to see what it is attached to (as if I don't know) and follow the tattered arm sleeve of an old army jacket to this hulk of a man. His pleading features house a pair of eyes that search for recognition or at the very least, a connection.

Given a line of passerby’s still twist between us, it's incredible how far his reach extends.

"Stella, Stella where did you go to?"

"Um, I had to go see my folks. I'll catch up with you later okay?"

"I've missed ya Stella"

"I've missed you too. Okay see ya later."

The stream of passerby’s between us make the contact short and sweet. I hurry along propelled by a tad of apprehension that this chap might not let "Stella" go so easily and a small smile that once again I was chosen.

Not to be conceited or anything, but it's nice to be considered approachable. Certainly not to telemarketers, serial killers, or pythons but surely this guy doesn't fall into either one of these three categories. Oh all right, I'll admit if it were dark with barely a soul around, the encounter would have had a lot more tension and bite to it, yet there was no harm done all and all.

And that is how the encounter gets chalked up.

No harm done.

All and all.

All in all.


The waitress asked if I wanted another drink.

"Mmhmph, no."

"What about the gentleman with you?"

"He'll be back in a minute," was all I could mutter. This was torture. I hope my eyes conveyed the true message - Don't remind me that my date will be returning soon, and please don't ask another question.

In this half-filled restaurant, I was trying desperately not to have any attention drawn to me. And I particularly didn't want to answer any questions.

Not that the questions themselves were hard.

The problem was the answers were coming out muffled. Instead of what I really wanted to say, "He'll be back in a minute." I was sure it came out something like "Hmm b ba n a mintut."

Why did I ever put this swizzle stick in my mouth?

It all started when the drink I ordered arrived with a long, green swizzle stick. I was immediately warmed with a tropical feel. A few minutes after the drinks arrived, my date excused himself to go to the bathroom. As I looked around the restaurant, I was giddy. I had my nicest outfit on, and it was two weeks after my last hair cut. Life was good, things were great, my dates okay...but, hey...my tongue found what I thought was a piece of food stuck in one of my back teeth. Determined to release this little devil before my date returned (I just know he would have seen it, had I left it there), I picked up the swizzle stick and started discretely using it as a toothpick.

Soon enough, the stick became caught in my teeth. I couldn’t dislodge it. No longer was I the discrete social butterfly, but the geek in the corner with a big green parrot head sticking out of her mouth. What a Lucy move. My date was due back any minute, and the waitress looked as if she wanted to ask another question.

What was I going to do?

Hang a napkin on the parrot's head?

Act as if I intended to strike a new persona like Kojak and his lollipop?

Convince others in the restaurant to try a new fad?

Pretend it wasn't there?


Maybe I should pick up my coat and leave a coy note for my date that the evening wasn't progressing as well as I thought and...oh that wouldn't do...he was coming back to the table. As he maneuvered his way around the other diners, he gave a little smile.

I smiled back with the green parrot head bouncing up and down ("Aye, me bucko" immediately came to mind). What a charming look. I started toying with the idea of just leaving it there and not ordering any food. I'd pinch the top of the parrot head between two fingers and give the illusion I was twirling the stick.

Sensual? I don't think so.

But a clever, sly, plan.


Then I fast-forwarded to leaving the restaurant; the ride in the car, the walk to the door, the separation of lips by a plastic green parrot head.


At last.

I didn't smile much that evening and kept touching the sore spot with my tongue. Visions of what could have happened played in my head. Even with the swizzle stick dislodged, I still held onto it. I carried it in my head as surely as I had in my teeth.

Funny sometimes how the mind won't let one rest.

Frustrating, too.

Had I kept the stick in my mouth, my quiet, distracted demeanor that evening would have been easily explained. Now all I had was an image and an awkward embarrassment. I mused all the way home that just when things seem to be going your way, life certainly has a way of throwing you for a loop...or a swizzle sick...or a ...


It’s your life, live it.

When you need a break, pick up a pen, find a blank piece of paper or use the space below and Testify on your own behalf…

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