Sharp palms scratched against a clear, cold sky and the fading yellow light baked away from the black outlines of the buildings like a beautiful gas. Out in the groves we could hear the sprinklers spitting as the farmers tried to cover the tangerines over with ice. Their goal was to coat the trees with just the proper amount of slush. If they could manage to keep the temperature right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit then they could preserve the endangered crop; freezing it so that it doesn't freeze. Like lowering some one's pulse rate so that their heart doesn't burst. But like every idea this was much better in theory than it was in practice and if they were off by only a couple of degrees, the trees wouldn't be able to hold the weight of the hardened ice and they'd split down the middle like a broken heart.
Joe Flannery and I could hear the jets of water slicing through the branches from where we were sitting near the entrance to the old campground. It was so cold that we could see our own breath. Once darkness fell the wind had turned crisp and we'd sought shelter underneath the overhang in front of the rec room. There wasn't very much in the way of recreation in there: just a red velvet topped pool table, a phooseball game, a couple of pinball machines: 'The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders' and I think perhaps 'Grease', plus a snack distributor and a pop dispenser.
For Joe and I it had been a long day of doing not much of anything. We were Irish Traveler kids which is tantamount to being a gypsy. Standard procedure for brats our age was to be pulled out of school early so that we could help our fathers at work. So Joe and I had both hit our last book the previous spring, even though we were barely preteens. But on days when our old men choose to end up at the Temple Terrace Tap instead of working, we didn't have much else to do aside from hanging around at the front of the campground.
That morning, Joe had came walking down the road telling me that John Lennon was dead; gunned down by some lunatic in New York City. We talked about it for a couple of minutes and then didn't think too much more of it. Actually, 40 seemed pretty old to me. I remember thinking that if I could make it to that age, I probably wouldn't feel cheated if I got gunned down by some lunatic.