Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome Home

I am a day late.  I am always late, but usually only by twenty minutes or so.  I’ve got my bag leaning against my leg and am twisting my scarf in my hands.  Standing in front of the porch just looking at the door and I admit I am hoping that somebody will spontaneously come outside, but it is late into the evening and I don’t really expect that to happen.  I gather up my courage and my bag.  Shouldering it, I begin up the steps towards the door.  It seems huge and extremely well locked.  The unwanted question rises in my head.  Will they still want me?  Of course they will want me, I tell myself.  Big breath, of course they want me.  I lift my hand to knock and a flurry of activity sounds from behind the door.  I was right about the door being well locked.  Soon the door creaked open and Ann peaked out from behind it.

“It is you!  I knew it would be you!  Harold said to check the peephole, but I knew!” She crowed stamping her feet like a child.

“Hi Ann, I’ve missed you.” I smiled at the diminutive woman whose voice is much larger then her physical presence.

“Come in, come, it is chilly out there! She practically shouted at me in her excitement.

“Thank you so much for having me. I am sorry about being so late.”

“Oh, honey, don’t worry about it, you are the nomad of the family.  We understand your time schedule may not be as exact as one would expect.  Enough of that, we got dinner for you.”  Ann waved towards the table by the door. “Just dump your bag there for now and we will get some good food in you.”

I felt a bit of guilt at the nomad comment.  If they only knew how true it was. I attempted to keep at least some sort of a semblance of a balanced life for them.  I laughed at myself, no to be honest, the things I do for me.  The portrayal is for me so I won’t feel guiltier about my strangeness, my inability to commit to even an address.  Thank goodness for friends with permanent addresses and post office boxes.

As we walked back to the kitchen, I was seeped in childhood memories.  The grandfather clock that was my best friend still kept time in the living room.  The time showed as 7:30pm.  It wasn’t as late as I thought.  The clock chimed out the ½ hr gong and I paused savoring its dulcet tones.  It wasn’t as loud as I remember, but living in a city will deaden your ears to most noise.

“Hey Ann, quick question for you?”

She turned in the doorway of the kitchen.  “Yes?”

“How did you know I was at the door?  I didn’t get a chance to knock yet.”

“Oh,” she laughed “Marge called from across the street to let us know that there was an “unknown” standing in front of our house.”

She winked at me. “She is new in town so she wouldn’t remember you.”   

I smiled at Ann “I had forgotten what it was like to be in a small town.”

“Yes, well welcome back, Treat.”  She grinned again and said “Come on, food is getting cold and I am sure Harold is quite impatient to see you.

I haven’t been called Treat for years.  When I first came to live with Ann & Harold, Ann would hug me spontaneously and tell me what a treat I was.  Eventually Harold started calling me Ann’s Favorite Treat and that was quickly shortened to Treat.

Pushing through the kitchen door, I was assaulted by the warm smell of Thanksgiving.

“Wait, what?”  I stuttered.

“Well, you’ve missed a few holidays and we know how much you loved your Thanksgiving dishes.  So we decided to make a few.”  Harold smiled as he spread his arms over the bounty of food on the table.

“A few, hmm?  Seems like you can feed an army here?”

“Oh, no” Said Ann, “Not a whole army, maybe the football team though.”

She turned and hugged me. “Oh honey, we’ve missed you so.”

Harold turned and wheeled away from the table.  I kept myself from starting.  I knew he was in a wheelchair now, but I hadn’t seen him since the accident.  He came over and I hugged him.  His arms wrapped around me felt as strong as they did 20 years ago when he would protect me from the ghosts in the closet and the monster in the bathroom.

“Missed you Treat, glad you’ve come home for a bit.”

“Missed you both terribly, I am sorry I stayed away for so long.”

“It’s alright, we still love you’” Harold rumpled my hair and gave me one last squeeze.  “Come on and eat or I will give the football team a call.”

I laughed and sat down.

The Saxophone Player

The man on the corner has been there for days, possibly months.  It’s hard for me to keep track.  He is always in the same bright yellow zoot suit.  Pressed to perfection and his matching hat pulled low over his brow.  I have never seen his face.  He stands in the shadow reflected by the streetlamp, a jar at his feet.  The saxophone he holds in his hands gleams brighter then his suit ever could.  And the low mournful sounds that are drawn out of it cause the passersby to drop coins, then shiver as they walk away pulling their coats tighter around them.  As the night passes, his songs recede to a more breathy cry then music.  I watch as he packs his instrument and picks up his jar to head for where ever he pretends is home.

He is waiting for someone, I know it.  I wonder who she is.  Is she the perfect girlmatch to his zoot suit slickness?  With bow topped heels and a polka dotted dress?  Hair done up in curls and bright red lipstick to mark his cheek with?  Will she waltz up one day and take him by the hand?  Will I get to watch them dance off into the night, see him toss his head back in delight at a whispered comment.  Finally see his face without shadow.
Maybe it isn’t a woman.  Maybe it is a man.  Or a family member or a long lost friend, who he has spend the last few years searching for and now simply hopes the call of his saxophone will bring them home.

For days I ponder this, creating scenario after scenario.  Then one evening, I notice the silence.  His spot in the lamplight is empty.  

River Styx

"Don't forget to pay the ferryman."

"Geez, Mom.  Cut me a break won't you?"

"Pay attention, Samuel!  This is the first trip you are undertaking on your own.  I need you to listen and do as I say when the time comes."

"Mom, it is not that difficult. I am almost a grown man."

"You are nothing, but a tall boy.  You hear me, just a tall child."

"Look, it is not as if I am traveling by myself.  There will be others.  I am sure if something comes up that I am not ready for, I can ask for their help."

"You just can't trust everyone around you.  That is why you are leaving, remember?"

"Yes, I remember, but you need to remember that not everyone is horrible. There are good people, Mom.  I swear it."

"It doesn't feel like it.  It is not fair you having to go."

"Who's the tall child, now?"

"Don't talk like that to your mother!"

"Yes, ma'am.  It will be alright, when I am gone.  You know that don't you?"

"Samuel, it will take time, it must take time."

"Just have hope."

"Agh, enough of this nonsense."  Do you have everything you need?  Do you feel sick at all?  Any strange pains?"

"Yes, no and no.  It will be alright, Mom."

"Fine, fine, fine.  Here are your coins, don't forget to pay the ferryman!"

"Sure Mom, and if I get a chance I will try to let you know I made it safely."

"I know you will honey.  Remember, oh always remember. I love you Samuel."

"I love you too, Mom."

Burnt Out

I have been vacated, sign around my neck.  Love lives here, but she is broken and worn down.  Looking like a cheap hooker in a bad wig and busted heels.  Hoping against all reality, that one day she will be saved.  Resurrected. 

How does one dress up their broken love?  Is there rehab for this?  Or do you give up, take her out back and shoot her.  Bury her corpse in the bottom of your heart. 

I am tired.  Too tired to dig a grave, too tired to even raise my arm to shoot.  So we sit here in this squalid motel room that used to be a heart and stare at each other.  What if there is no her, what if that slinky pose of kicked back on the grimy bed, propped up by her elbows, legs crossed at the ankles is me?  Am I just staring in the mirror?  How did I let this happen?  Looking at my feet I see the broken heels, the frayed straps.  I kick them off and pull off all the clothes.  I pile everything in the middle of that awful bed and set it on fire.  Yank the wig off my head and toss it into the flame.  

I burn my heart clear of this debris.   I will save me.  I will save me.


A copious amount of posts will be popping up soon.  Some for my own comfort that are known to those who know me and perhaps a couple new.  More new will be coming soon.  I am aiming for a weekly update. 


Morning Drive

I watched a man walking toward me on the street today.  He had a soft easy step with his hands in his pockets and arms akimbo.  He seemed so loose and free moving.  I noticed there was something wrapped around his neck.  Scarf? Handkerchief? Hands!  He had a child on his back.  Legs slipped through his arms and arms wrapped around his neck.  The child's face was pressed into his neck.  I could almost hear the child breathing against him.  As the man passed me by, he changed.  The step which was so carefree and happy, slowed and became more of a shuffle.  Jeans torn, layers of sweaters and the child was a backpack. The ends of the arm straps tucked into his front pockets with his hands.  He looked at me solemnly.  I felt so guilty, as if I broke his dream. By simply by seeing him, I brought him back to the reality where his child is gone.  Gone somewhere he is unable to follow.  I broke his gaze, and he continued moving on.  In my rearview mirror, I saw him straighten.  Saw the step grow easy and loose again.  The bag shifted and the child murmured something in his ear. 

We were both happier then.