Michael and Keiko (4)

Part IV: 1976 to 1981

Michael & Keiko_3After he flunked out of college, Michael found a job as a day laborer in a flower nursery for a couple of years. He was a hard worker and he was well liked by his boss and the other workers. He found that working with dirt was one of the most beautiful things he ever did as he witnessed every day the miracles of muck transmuting into flowers in the fields. He would pick out in his mind the prettiest white lilies and brought them home because Keiko liked them.

Michael also picked up quite a bit of Spanish from the South American workers there. Pretty soon they were inviting him to their homes for dinner and he started tutoring their children in Math and English. He enjoyed the children and the tutoring part especially because it reminded him of the homework sessions with Keiko. Later the nursery was raided by the police because it turned out to be a front for marijuana that was being grown in a nearby farm. Michael was aware of that although he never had to work there. When the nursery was shut down by the authorities Michael had to find another job.

An old supervisor from the nursery introduced him to a construction job. At first the building contractor didn’t want to hire him because of his small size. Michael was five feet six inches tall and weighed a hundred and forty pounds. That was not exactly ideal physique for strenuous construction work.

Later the contractor was glad that Michael was there. For his lack of muscle strength, Michael made it up with stamina and agility. He could work from 7 in the morning until 7 at night, and he could crawl under the sub-floor or climb to the pitch of the roof like a cheetah. He could also talk to the South American workers with the pidgin Spanish he picked up at the nursery. Pretty soon he learned to read most parts of the building plans too. In about three years’ time, he was made the site supervisor whenever the general contractor was not around. By then he was twenty-five years old and he was making good money as the right hand man to the building contractor.

Michael dated a few women over the years, but they were all short relationships. It seems that every time he met the right girl, she was just a temporary substitute for Keiko. Many times when he closed his eyes to kiss a girl, he saw Keiko’s face.

Keiko left me. Why can’t I forget her?

*** To Be Continued ***

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