Thursday 8 September 2022

Sociobiology in Arcadia by Daniel Bailey, Don Café

Sociobiology: the scientific study of the biological basis for animal and human social behavior: it is based on the theory that some or much of such behavior is genetically determined. – Collins Dictionary

              She appeared after he’d positioned his and his wife’s blue Ford Fiesta at one end of the baking concrete in a packed drugstore parking lot. His spouse, 55 like him, was buying a few things inside the tienda that sweltering Caracas afternoon. From his new position at the head of the lot, the man could watch all vehicles for signs of departure.

Not far off to his right, a young woman unlocked her forest-green VW Fox. If it had ever been his privilege to see a more beautiful marriage of blue jeans and the female form, he couldn’t remember the occasion. His happiness at being on the cusp of obtaining a parking space failed to ascend to his regret that mere moments would end the vision of her. She slid into her sylvan chariot.   

But in a moment got out to walk back towards the store—only to return to her car, uncertain. The blue Fiesta filled with gratitude. The vision persists! Theologian Thomas Merton described a certain red-haired woman with ‘She gave glory to God’, and it seemed to the man that this youth, her light brown hair limning her shoulders, did as well.   

            She tried to open her hood. Dazed in the kiln of his car, stunned by her beauty, a thought struggled to coalesce in the middle-aged man’s head.  

            Help her, you idiot! He hit the pavement running but braked at once to a casual walk. Must be the first male. Must not scare her. She turned her round face up to him.  

            ‘I´m having trouble getting this open.’ He heard fear in her voice.  

Be nice. Reassure her. ‘I´m no mechanic but I´ll do what I can’, he shrugged with a goofy smile. 

Too nice, dammit! Might as well be castrated! Thus in a take-charge lower register not far from a growl: ‘I’ll get that open for you.’ He stepped suavely round the hood like a welterweight boxing contender. In a moment he´d popped the Fox.

‘I have jumper cables’, the young woman now offered. Sounding more relaxed. Ah!—it’s going well! He regretted that at such short range, taking in the whole of her was out of the question.

            ‘Good’, he said, switching to an air of brisk competence. ‘I´ll get my car.’ A space had miraculously opened up beside hers.

            He loped to his broiling Fiesta, the sun prickling his half-bald scalp, hoping his middle-aged jogging regimen as well as his commitment to helping the entire human race showed through to his new companion. Loped, as opposed to walked, in order to keep other males out of the game.     

            She knew nothing of red-to-red and black-to-black. Would his command of this matter advance his cause? True, the odds against any sort of interaction, no matter how circumscribed, were overwhelming. Once revived, the forest Fox would vanish into the glens of Venezuela forever. That did not matter. Every second with her felt as if everything were on the line.               

            But her chariot refused to start. Reattaching the cables, unable to resist any longer, he looked at her sidelong. She saw him look. When she thought he’d stopped—underestimating his peripheral vision—she tugged the top two open buttons of her woodland brown blouse closer together.   

            Blew it!

His bleakness deepened when a lithe male in his early 20s walked up. The newcomer waited a polite 45 seconds while the man in his 50s continued to fail to accomplish anything whatsoever. Then the youth provided his fellow youth with mechanical information and advice far beyond the older man’s ken.

Whose wife then appeared. “Here you are. You moved the car.”     

The primordial fantasy just below consciousness of the vision in faded blue denim (she of the majestic hips, the nymph with the taut waist, the dryad in the fitted blouse, the lass with the Renoir face) and him making love in a green-roofed grove in Arcadia—died.  

            A blue Fiesta fiery to the touch drove off under the tropical sun.     


About the author

From the Pacific Northwest, USA, Bailey has spent half his life in Europe, Polynesia, Asia and Latin America, including 20 years teaching at a university inside a gathering Venezuelan dictatorship. Star 82 Review, The South Shore Review, CP Quarterly and the TESL Reporter, among other venues, have presented his work. 
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