CHAPTER SIX “HIS MEMORY IS THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF.” FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1979 LAMONT
As I continue my walk onward, the first thing that catches my eye is an abundance of cats. They rove everywhere. They’re also on almost every available ledge space. I squat and hold out my hand in greeting to the feline inhabitants of the city. A few of the braver, younger, or less bored, come up to sniff my hand and allow themselves to be scratched and petted. After a few minutes of getting to know each other, I get up and walk further on the narrow streets of the city. After walking a few blocks, I realize that it’s hotter in this part of town. Up ahead, on one porch, there sits, amongst a few wooden chairs and a table, an elderly black man, dressed in denim overalls, a white cotton shirt, a Panama hat with a bright sky blue band, and lace-up work boots. Even though he too is sweating, the heat doesn’t seem to bother him. He’s someone who’s become accustomed to living in his own sweat. The black man is pouring what I assume is lemonade to some customers.
As I walk closer, it gets even warmer. Hmm? I feel physically tired. My body aches as if from strenuous physical exertion. I feel my suit sticking to my skin from the sweat. The air has become so humid. It’s like strolling through a sauna. My throat is parched. That lemonade looks really good right now. What’s happening to me? Why do I so strongly desire that lemonade? My thirst drags me to the porch.
“Hello son,” the black man says in a slow southern drawl, “nice day for a walk.”
“Actually, I’m new here, and I’m wondering where is here?”
“Here is the isle of Atlantis, which comprises the six kingdoms. With the city of Atlantis at its heart, and yes I can tell your new here.”
“It’s that obvious? Anyway, I’ve been wandering around since early this morning, and feeling kind of tired. I was wondering if I could sit a minute on your porch? Just to rest and catch my breath.”
“No harm in that. Sit as long as you want.”
I do and I can’t help myself. The heat and the thirst cause me to fixate on that pitcher of lemonade. He pours himself a glass as he watches me watch him. Slowly and deliberately, he lifts it to his lips and sips some of it. I’m imagining the taste and the tart sweetness of lemons. He sighs with contentment, like a soft cool breeze fluttering the leaves in an old tree.
“Oh my, where have my manners gone to.”
Great! He’s going to offer me a glass!
“Here you are sitting on my porch and I haven’t even introduced myself. My mama taught me better than that. I was christened Charles Abraham. But ever since I could crawl across the floor in my Mama’s house—God rest her soul—I was called simply, Charlie.” “Hello Charlie,” I croak out, trying to conceal my disappointment and my parched throat as I shake his callused hand. Rats. I was hoping for some of that luscious lemonade. We sit in silence. The air is so hot and humid it sticks in my throat and nose as I breathe. Yet in spite of the heat, Charlie is looking cool and contented. I’m certain that it must be the lemonade. I need it. I shove my feelings of embarrassment aside and decide to plead.
“Ahh, I was wondering,” I croak, “I don’t have any money to pay for it, hell, I don’t even have pockets, but could you see clear to, well, sell me on credit so to speak, I’m a hard worker, I’ll pay you back, I....”
“Young man, are you trying to ask me for a glass of my lemonade?”
“Ahh, yes, please, could I have some?”
“Why of course. You, being new here and all, consider it on the house.”
“Oh, bless you sir.”
“Why thank you sir, that was kind of you,” Charlie remarks solemnly as he pours two tall glasses. “Here’s to my dear departed mother, bless her soul, who raised me right and taught me how to make lemonade.”
We sip our lemonade in silence, savoring the experience. My taste buds tingle from the tart taste of lemon. I can feel the thirst quenching liquid fall like a slow moving mountain stream inside me. The liquid is cool like that of a wished for summer breeze on a hot July day. I feel as if I awoke on the day when a sweltering heat wave finally ended.
“That’s the most amazing lemonade I’ve ever had,” I exclaim.
“Yes sir, I believe it is. It’s almost as good as my mamas. I remember as if it was yesterday. We would be working real hard in the field, sweating something fierce. Mama would call out to us from the porch. After a hard working day, my Mama’s lemonade was like a taste of paradise in a glass. Till my dying day I ain’t likely to ever forget it, no sir.”
“Thanks for the lemonade, Charlie. It sure makes you forget the heat. I feel so much better.” With the cravings gone I feel something compelling me. I need to be somewhere. To go somewhere. “I don’t like to drink and run,” I explain, “but I should get going.” I leave Charlie’s street and continue on my way. Hey! The sauna effect is gone. The lemonade banished the heat? Hmmm? I can’t explain how, but, this weather and the lemonade, with its ability to dissipate the heat, it must be all Charlie’s doing. I alter my voice to an imitation Humphrey Bogart drawl, and say aloud to myself, “His memory is the stuff that Dreams are made of.”
. It is a quote of what Humphrey Bogart, playing the part of Sam Spade, said at the end of the 1941 film, "The Maltese Falcon". The film was directed by John Houston, and it is based on Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel of the same name. This quote is itself a paraphrase of a line from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, act iv, scene I, line 148 and following.