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The Message
by Andrew Hunt

I was up on my roof. The only places better than my roof were my darkroom, and my girlfriend Samantha’s bedroom. I loved being up on my roof. I felt like a badass. Dad was a DIY guy, which meant I improved dad’s home, which was my home, but without the ownership part. This summer it was the roof. I learned to work doing such achingly difficult tasks. The copper-California mid-summer swelter burnt down; it toasted our heads, and our peeking butt cracks. I was almost becoming a man. Dad and I, and my best friend Tom, shucked, stuck and shoveled. Our muscles bowed and the dust settled dark in our skin creases. Only actual shit would have been dirtier. Filthy now, I stood all Marlon Brando cocky. But up on my roof I got a message. I was unprepared for this message. The comradery, the dust, and the baking heat did not soften or turn away the message. I hollered out manly things; “did you see that bitchin’ blue Corvette down on Crane?” And still the message stuck. It felt like 12-year-old me lighting 52 acres of grandfather’s ranch on fire. It felt like first confession; “Bobby Creighton and I robbed the five and ten,” I told the priest. Shame filled my temples like that. Innately I knew that a real man is honest the way a fly is honest. But honesty takes courage.

“Samantha, I’m afraid I‘m actually in love with your parents, and that I just want to have sex you.”I couldn’t say it. I drove away knowing I hadn’t said what I came to say. Samantha turned and walked through her gate.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken in January of 1981. I was out with my best friend Tom, my photo buddy of many years. We were out on the coast near Salt Point, California. This is a self-portrait. This image is very much indicative of my pensive state of mind. I am 17.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ever interested in the written word, language, and telling stories, Andrew Hunt received high and strange praise from his high school and college English professors. “Hunt, you’ve got what it takes to write something wholly interesting, but you haven’t got a single comma or period in the lot of it; B-!” After a brief career as a professional photographer in Palo Alto, California, and a much more lengthy one, as a General Contractor, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Andrew finally met his true love in Santa Fe, while living in Portland, Oregon. The long distance fostered much writing. A few million words in fact. Andrew had met a prolific professional writer. And she had met an unexpected compadre. True love, Meridian Johnson, Poet par excellence, encouraged Andrew to put his work in the world. This submission marks the first such offering. Visit the author at Andrewhuntphotography.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Seventeen is a proverbial time of change in any person’s life. The vagaries of culture meet idealism head on. Meridian counseled a dynamic present moment essay. “I want you to prick my finger Andrew; make it bleed a little.”Everybody has some experience in the year of Seventeen that delivers this kind of punch. “Don’t tell me about the moment; I want to feel the moment. I want to be there in the immediacy.” I lost my virginity, and discovered I had no tools to discuss this profound event. I had no schooling in the wash of feeling that welled up. My dad never said one word about his sex life. I had only fear around the potpourri of emotion. So receiving such a message, though not ultimately true, (I did actually love Samantha), rocked my world. I believed I had no one to turn to, that no one had EVER had such a feeling; and this is the essence of being Seventeen.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken at Multnomah Falls, Oregon, by my beloved Meridian, on my birthday, 2016. I am 52.