Rummaging by Roland Goity

Every Saturday morning Samantha and her husband hit whatever garage sales took place in their neighborhood. It became a force of habit; it was just what they did. Cliff was Samantha’s second husband, a bit older than she, a caring man but not someone who liked to live large on weekends. An afternoon trip to Home Depot with a wad of cash in his pocket constituted an event as far as he was concerned.

But mornings were about garage and yard sales. And one weekend an address on Plum Street was their destination. The home had an unkempt look, music blared out its windows, and among the most visible wares offered were hand-blown glass pieces and a record collection like few others. The hosts were about Samantha’s age. The woman had graying frizzy hair and her long floral print dress hung loosely from her shoulders, unveiling ample breasts. The man wore colorful Guatemalan pants that looked like pajamas, and had gold earrings that sparkled magnificently in the morning sunlight.

“Well, well, well, and I thought hippies were extinct," Cliff said, sotto voce to Samantha. He then asked the man what types of yard tools they might be selling, while Samantha began caressing the glass lamps and various artifacts, which included a hookah or two.

“I like this one," Samantha told the earringed man, showing him a spiraling salad bowl thingy with green tinge and blue flecks.

He said it was only five dollars and that he’d hold it for her, so she went over to the musty boxes of records and began thumbing through the hits of yesteryear. There were albums by Clapton, Cream and Creedence, and many more, arranged alphabetically, just like in a real record store. There were jazz albums, too--and a box full of pop singles, good old 45s. Samantha flipped through the singles at a brisk pace, stopping suddenly when coming upon a favorite old title. It was “Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, a song she sang and sang as a girl. She pulled the disc from the pile and brought it up almost to her face, its individual grooves as discernible as the rings of an old-growth redwood. Back home, she and Cliff had an old turntable hooked up. It had remained in working condition.

“On the house," the man told Samantha, “Comes with the bowl." A smile graced her face and she started pawing through the rest of the bunch when she found a partially smoked joint stuck between a pair of singles. Instinctively, she pinched it between a thumb and forefinger and dropped it in her purse.

“Let’s go; there’s nothing here," her husband said, having already lost interest in what was displayed. She was eager to oblige, so they paid the couple five dollars and left.

The next day Cliff went on a rare fishing excursion and Samantha had the house to herself. She ignited a kitchen match and lit the roach that had been dormant for who knew how long. No matter, once she puffed a little and put on “Tears of a Clown" it was 1971 all over again. The song played and she wept, yes, but her spirit soared like it hadn’t in years. The impact was immediate. Being with Cliff couldn’t approach the emotional edge she felt smoking with Smokey. So she kept weeping and when the record stopped, she reset the tone arm and played it again.

Bio: Roland Goity edits fiction for the online journal LITnIMAGE. His stories appear in dozens of publications, including recent or forthcoming issues of Fiction International, Necessary Fiction, Raleigh Review, Metazen, decomP and Grey Sparrow Journal.

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