Monday, July 28, 2014
Mother, I want to move away from the old days, the bad memories, the darker times; but you draw me back.
You draw me back because you live there, you exist there. For me they are the blurred childhood days, events shaped not by me but by you and by others. For you they are the days of life: the joys and miseries, the dreams and deceptions. For me they are rain-coloured, gloom-coloured days. They are the days of working class this-is-all-we’ll-ever-be constraints.
Mother, I want to break away, run to colours and summers, chase aspirations and those dreams that whipped away on the wind. But you draw me back to those forgotten days, those dark corners rank with cat piss and bitterness.
Mother, I will show you the colours and summers. I will create new memories for you to live in, to exist in. You are tangled up in those days long ago, those days you can’t escape.
But as I try to go forward, you pull on my arm: come back with me, son, come back.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
“Oh, my God! It’s ending!” she screams.
“The news or the world?” I wonder as I begin to walk to the front room. Then, I feel it too. I trip as I run to be with her. I hear the front door open over the dishes rattling.
I am in slow motion. I can’t get to her quickly enough.
Then, I see her through the window.
She is running barefoot with arms raised through the fields with her pink housecoat flapping open in the wind.
And, I laugh.
First, it’s a chuckle, then a guffaw, then near hysterics.
Then, I am engulfed in the old sobs.
Monday, July 14, 2014
You used to come every day. A headlong dive, into that bird-shaped hollow you’ve created in the loose earth underneath the juniper tree.
Hardly earth at all. More like dust. Your personal dust bath. Swoosh, you’d plunge in, wriggle a bit, turn around, ruffle your feathers, pick at something, and swoosh, out again. Every day.
And every evening, you’d sit on the edge of the roof, belting out an aria into the dusk. A serenade. A lullaby. Just for me.
I’m going to miss you, little bird.
But you sure tasted good.
Monday, July 7, 2014
”let’s get this lead out of your guts first – then we’ll decide what to do about al. ain’t that right, doc?”
jenny turned her blonde head away, so that she wouldn’t be blowing smoke right into dave’s blasted body.
she formed two perfectly round smoke rings which drifted across doc wilson’s little office and into his front parlor, and fixed the doctor with her cold green eyes.
but he ignored her and kept on probing dave’s stomach.
“kind of flabby aren’t you, dave? i thought you desperadoes kept in a little better shape.” he looked up quickly at dave. “just kidding.”
‘”i don’t get it, doc. i just don’t get it. me and al – we were partners for years – since we were kids. why would he just turn on me all of a sudden, just like that?”
“hold still. don’t excite yourself. still – still – perfectly still. well, there are usually one of two reasons or both. the first of course is money.”
“but the deal was a bust. there wasn’t any money. we were just trying to get away.”
“take a breath. hold it. all right. maybe he was mad about the deal not going down. maybe he blamed you.”
“nah. it wasn’t my fault.”
“was it his? maybe he figured you’d get mad so he got his lick in first.”
“it wasn’t anybody’s fault. it was just bad luck.”
“there. i think i got it all.”
“you think?” jenny interrupted. “did you get it all or didn’t you?”
the doctor gave her an annoyed glance. “i got it all.”
“then why did you say ‘i think’?”
“it was just a manner of speaking. hold this on the wound,” he told dave, ” while i unwind this bandage.” he took a long roll of white bandage out of a drawer under the table dave was sitting on. he began to wind it around dave’s body below the gunshot wound just below his heart.
“as i was saying before i was so politely interrupted, there are two reasons for even the tightest partnerships to break up. money of course – ” the doc looked over at jenny. “and dames.”
“why you cheap gin-soaked back alley butcher, how dare you insult me -”
“easy baby, easy.” dave laughed. “doc, consider the specific situation. jenny is here, ain’t she? she’s not with al. and she brought me here. she dragged my bleeding carcass away with her brute strength -” he grabbed her arm and squeezed her bicep – “strong, ain’t she?”
“i’m strong for you. baby.”
“very touching,” doc observed. “of course, what could i have been thinking? here, let go.”
he slapped a pad right right over the bullet hole as dave flinched, then continued winding the bandage above it. “all set. now, you just have to rest up.”
“can i light up a smoke now?”
“sure, why not?”
dave fished in his pockets. “looks like i lost my smokes in all the fracas.”
“you can have one of mine,” jenny told him.
“they got filters. doc, can i bother you for a smoke?”
“i smoke cigars. parodis. you want one?”
“i guess they will have to do. thanks.”
“hold on, i’ll go get one.”
jenny scowled at doc wilson’s back as he left the room. “can we trust this cheap chiseler?” she asked loud enough for him to hear.
“relax, will you? being trusted is doc’s stock in trade. he’s not going to win the nobel prize for medicine. are you, doc?” dave called after him.
“did you hear the way he insulted me?”
“he was making a general statement about human females. don’t be so sensitive.”
“i’m a human female, ain’t i?”
the doctor returned with a red and green pack of parodis he had taken from his jacket hanging in the front hall.
he extracted one of the crooked little cigars from the pack and gave it to dave, then lit it for him with a wooden match he struck across the sole of his scuffed brown shoe.
“no, if doc was a better doctor he’d be treating four star generals for indigestion at walter reed hospital, not stitching up the likes of us.” dave blew some of the vile smoke into the air. “this is awful.”
“you sure you don’t want one of mine?” jenny asked.
“jeez, i just might.”
the doctor cleared his throat. “well, dave, after you’ve finished – enjoying your smoke, we can settle up and you can be on your way.”
“what? what are you talking about? we’re going to hole up here.” dave laughed and waved the parodi in the air. “have you gone out of the hole up business? that’s the biggest part of your trade.”
“what about her?”
“i don’t know, what about her? haven’t you ever holed up two people at once before? why, just last year -”
“come on, you know what i’m talking about. i don’t trust her. i don’t trust her not to shoot me when we both fall asleep. i just have a bad feeling about her.”
“please. i know we’re all under some stress here and harsh words have been spoken, but let’s act like adults. and what about your fee?”
the doc held up his hand. “dave, there will be no payment. we’ve known each other for a long time and i hope we can do business again in the future. but i just don’t trust this bitch.”
he leaned forward and in a stage whisper intoned – “are you sure she’s not in it with al?” he straightened up. “she can drive, you can walk, those aren’t problems. you’ll have to go.”
“but i’ve got the police of six states after me.”
“i’m sorry, dave.”
“this is totally ridiculous.”
“can you guarantee she won’t shoot me or both of us?”
“yeah. yeah, i can guarantee it.” dave reached behind his back and pulled a pistol from his waistband. jenny laughed. dave quickly checked the safety, released it, and shot jenny in the head.
“henry! what’s going on down there?”
“nothing dear, go back to sleep.”
Thursday, July 3, 2014
I’ve done this before, I think. I’ve raised something to watch it die. Across from me at the diner booth, he eyes the lipstick stain on my mug. I drink my coffee black after sex to show him how strong I am.
But I can see he is blue like a baby bird. The ones I used to rescue from the ground as a child. I watched the birds and fed them with tweezers to mimic their mother’s beaks. I nestled them in rag nests and breathed my hot nervous breath over them, whispering, “Please live. Please, please live.” And in the morning I peeked into the old fish tank I housed them in. There they’d be, straining. The long night sat heavy on their skeletal bodies. I was their witness when they jutted their scraggly necks in the air one last time. One last chirp and then the silence.
This bird needs mercy. He can’t fight. I can see that. I was never able to put them out of their misery. I knew it was the right thing to do sometimes, but I couldn’t carry out that judgment. I couldn’t pick up that brick or crush their nascent bodies under my shoe. It seems crueler to let nature take its course. But I am nature, too, I remember.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
I remember being excited by fear when I was only eight years old. My parents had recently gotten divorced and we lived in upstate New York at the time. On some weekends, I stayed with my father. Every Saturday morning, we would wake up early and drive to the airport in Albany. We would bring a few peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, some juice, and we would park near the runways. We would rarely speak during take-off, but we would always share the same feeling of anticipation as we watched the plane come to life, rotating and expertly maneuvering around each turn of the runway. I never thought that the planes were ‘real’ when I looked at them up close. It was difficult for me to envision living people sitting inside of the machine, just as it is difficult for me to visualize ‘real’ people sitting inside of the cars that now pass me by on highways. Even when I was young, I realized that things move very quickly around me most of the time and that there is no real way of slowing anything down. This was, and continues to be, simultaneously terrifying and exciting. Watching the planes turn around the corners and slowly ascend into the sky was a way of slowing everything down without having to participate. I could prepare myself for fear by simply observing. Ten years later, I sit in the parking lot and I hold my breath in fear as the plane reaches upward, and I anticipate that glorious decline of motion.