Two Banyan Trees
“Are you seeing,” I said over at Alan. “What I’m seeing?”
I was staring out the tall front windows from within The Moon.
“The things you see out the Snug, lad,” Alan said. He laughed. He shook his head. “Early friday nights in February, during high-season, cheers to the lad.”
“Cheers,” I said. “I guess business is good?”
“Best time of year,” Alan said. He pursed his lips. “But we’ve been here so long, we’re rather steady as she goes.”
I pointed outside at the young man.
“I did something sort of like this,” I said. “Once, in a bar.”
We chuckled over at the event that we thought was about to have taken place just before dusk. A young man was wearing all-white, he pensively stood across from The Moon. He was between the two massive interlocked Banyan trees and beneath the dark green canopy, and the descending aerial root system. He was at the center of a garnishment of red-rose peddles that had been scattered by two young women toward each of the four-winds. A photographer was actively capturing the moment. And friends in on the surprise, and gathering interlopers, had their smartphone cameras focused on the expanding scene.
“Rob, have you met my wife, Susie?” Alan said. He held out his left hand. He proudly grinned. “I found her in Wales.”
“Hello, darling,” Susie said. She had just walked into the Snug section, she had air-kissed my cheek. She was petite with thick winter-white hair styled just above her delicate neck-line. She had kind blue eyes, eyes that you hoped to had never disappointed. “I see, we have quite the stir.”
Behind Susie, Kate and Jane had worked the busy bar area.
“Yeah,” I said. I sipped my Guinness. “He’s gotten a good crowd out there, but he looks really nervous, even from over here.”
“I don’t blame him,” Susie said. Her voice had a soft cadence as if she’d once been a skilled British psycho therapist.
“He’s all in,” I said. “I’ll give him that.”
“I wonder if there are pigs behind the trees?” Alan said. He giddily laughed over at Susie.
“Oh dear, me,” Susie said. “I hope she can run.”
After a few moments, within the far southwest corner of the observing crowd, a line of refined young women, all dressed for a seasonal party had emerged from the back metal doors for the marbled Museum of Fine Arts. They parted the dense crowd as they walked with rehearsed purpose, each attempted to maintain the rues, and they had concealed within them another young woman who had jet black hair. She appeared confused as she studied the multi-colored faces as she passed by them along the concrete sidewalk while she clutched a single long-stem red rose.
“Ah, somethings moving a bit,” Susie said.
“Show time,” Alan said. “Here we go…”
“I sure hope she says, yes,” I said. I glanced over at Susie.
“Oh, dear,” Susie said. “Do you really think she’d say no?”
And then the young ladies walked shoulder-to-shoulder as they lead her toward the Banyan trees. Each lady periodically had stopped along the route, as if on cue. They had kissed her as if they would never meet her again, and then they had dropped more rose peddles before her so as to have encouraged her to keep strolling down the path and behind the others.
“It’s gotten rather quiet out there,” I said. I smirked with my nose close to the window glass. “And I don’t know why I just whispered, they can’t here me.”
“I know, it’s like watching a movie,” Susie said. She adjusted her eyeglasses. “It’s, amazing, this is so exciting.”
It was an odd sensation to voyeur down into a sacred moment from our perch over at The Moon; the cars had been stopped from maneuvering along Beach Drive by the quiet, but growing crowd that had started to block the street. As if they all involuntarily had followed a charismatic cult leader, the curious people had ignored the cars as if they were all searching for something unseen as they shifted in different directions to gain a better view. Then the people in the stopped cars had started to get out to investigate the disturbance, as if they all had instinctively decided to have followed the others toward an unforeseen cliff.
“Ah, there’s the box,” I said. I pointed down at him.
“He’s all in, now,” Alan said. He glanced over at Susie.
“I like those sort of boxes,” Susie said. She smiled.
After the young lady’s last maiden had gently exited her, the young man was revealed. He stood alone before her, and they were encircled by the nine-person or so deep crowd. He knelt down, and he held the square box up toward her. It was a simple ceremony I thought. He spoke to her, as his hands shook, she nodded, and she appeared to have said, yes. She accepted the box, and its contents. As they hugged, the impromptu audience clapped in approval as if it had just observed a well-played tennis match. And then they all started to disperse, as the young couple were left behind being hugged by their friendly witnesses. And then I noticed within the darkness the car lights started to recycle along Beach Drive, and the pale yellow glow from the bars and restaurants had returned to the high-season Friday evening rituals.
“They’re first step for a lifetime journey,” Susie said. She turned away from the windows. She kissed Alan on the cheek. “Love you, my sweet.”
“How long have you all been together?” I said.
“Almost,” Alan said. He smiled, he looked up at the coffered ceiling, and then nodded his head toward Susie. “Fifty years, I cannot imagine that, no sir, how crazy.”
“I out ran the pigs” Susie said. She sipped her baby Guinness. “It’s true.”
“It’s a Welsh thing,” Alan said. He grinned. “I picked her because she could out run the pigs.”
“Actually,” Susie said. “I sort of out flapped my way from them, like a terrified duck.”
“Ah yes, they’d have eaten her,” Alan said. “I helped her over the fence, and we’ve been together ever since.”
After twenty-minutes, maybe more, maybe less, I was ready to have paid my Guinness bill, I had grabbed my to-go order, and I was headed toward the back brick alleyway. But near The Moon’s front doors a large, noisy, group had entered, and they had moved in mass over to the bar. I smiled as I quickly noticed it was the young couple that had just shared a moment from their lives from under the Banyan trees.
“Well,” Kate said. Her hands on the bar as she smiled at them. “What can I get for the happy couple? And congratulations, I see are in order?”
The husky young man with thin brown hair was sweating through his linen shirt. He had rolled the sleeves up to his elbows. He had a constant, yet, relieved smirk. She had smeared her lipstick, she appeared to have just stopped crying as she was being hugged by two ladies from her conspiracy group.
“We meet here,” he said. He smacked hard on the bar top. “Meet right here, for very first time.”
“No kiddin’” Kate said. She curiously looked up at him.
“Yes, we did, oh, my, god,” she said. She gazed down at her large engagement ring. “I can’t believe, this just happened.”
Alan moved into the group as Susie stayed behind to observe.
“Now, lad,” Alan said. He waved over at Kate who backed away from the bartender side. “Did I hear correct, you two met here, at The Moon?”
“Yes,” he said. He pointed at his brown shoes. “At this spot…”
“Well, then,” Alan said. He strongly shook the young man’s hand. He held up his hand to acknowledge Susie. “I’m Alan, I’m the part-owner, with my wife, Susie. She’s the all powerful president.”
“I am Yuri,” he said. He stood up tall. “This is, this is Daphne, my now, finance.”
Alan happily greeted them, as Susie moved forward into the group. They talked for a few moments, and they were introduced to Yuri and Daphne’s friends. But then, Alan moved over closer to the bar, he smiled back over at those who had watched from the Snug section.
“Kate,” Alan said. He clapped his hands, and he started to count the group as Kate and Jane had retrieved two whiskey bottles. “We need to celebrate this occasion.”
“Redbreast?” Kate said. She smiled over at Yuri and Daphne.
“Yes, indeed,” Alan said. “But we need a count.”
“Llongyfarchiadau ar eich Dyweddiad, that’s Welsh, for, congratulations on your engagement,” Susie said. She smiled. “You’ll excuse me, I don’t partake, but, I’ll cheer you with my baby Guinness.”
“Spasibo,” Yuri said. He appeared confused, but he bowed at Susie. He loudly laughed. “Russian for, thank you.”
“Oh, my, god, thank you,” Daphne said. As she kept admiring her new engagement ring. “I can’t wait to tell my friends back in Boca.”
“Oh, Boca?” Susie said. She daintily sipped her Guinness.
“Well, New York, and all,” Daphne said. She tapped her long manicured fingers over toward Susie as she kept smiling. “The family is down in Boca, you know, this time of year, you know.”
“So, how did you meet here?” Susie said.
“Old school,” Yuri said. He fake walked in place like a large stereotypical Texas cowboy. “I walk up to bar, I said, howdy. It was Daphne, we been together now for six-months, love her.”
“Ha, love you,” Daphne said. She stepped up on her toes and kissed Yuri. “And in six-months, it’ll be the three of us.”
“Yes,” Yuri said. “My child be US citizen.”
“Ah,” Susie said. “That’s wonderful, and crafty all at the same time. Congratulations, again.”
Kate and Jane set out a long line of shot glasses. They poured the auburn colored whiskey into them, and then Alan handed them out to the bar guests.
“You, too,” Alan said. “Over here, Rob.”
I held up my full shot glass with Alan, and the bar crowd.
“To Yuri and Daphne,” Alan said. “In good health, and happiness.”
“I’ll take a pass,” Daphne said. “But, big fella will stand in for me.”
“Ha,” Yuri said. He swigged back two whiskey shots, as I swigged back the whiskey shot. It burned a bit, and then I tasted the master-crafted finish that had reminded me of Kentucky.
Alan and I stepped away from the bar, and on over next to Susie as Yuri started to order Russian vodka shots from Kate and an amused Jane.
“Engagement party” I said. “Is full on now.”
“Rob, all sorts of people come to The Moon, they’ll always remember us,” Alan said. He nodded at the guests coming and going. “They all are looking to just relax, to find some anchor, you know.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I think you’re right.”
“You know, darling,” Susie said. She smiled at me. “Roots, what you’re doin’ now, just trying to find some roots to hold onto.”
“I hadn’t really thought it through,” I said. I had watched Yuri tightly hug Daphne. “But, I’m happy to back in St. Pete.”
“Just sink into things,” Susie said. “They’ll grow in due time.”
“Listen to Susie, and don’t live in the past,” Alan said. “It’ll eat at your happiness.”
Susie nodded back over at Alan.
“All the people you meet along the way, they’re just normal people,” Susie said. She looked into the crowd. “They’re all just searching in their own way.”
“Keep searching,” Alan said. “It’ll come to you, lad.”