Ed Wilson drives down Tampa boulevard, old food wrappers strewn across his dash, radio playing that constricted play list of classic rock in the era of streaming audio on smart phones, turn signal broken again, headlight held on with duct tape again, that new bird dropping pretty darn Jackson Pollock this time around on the windshield from lunch under those trees by the aging burger stand. The sky is full of those high thick shards and odd U.F.O shapes near the mountains in a dry Santa Ana wind; hulks and ruins not of sun or rain, to Ed a kin of newspapers blown along fences. It is 1 p.m
She baked him cookies. Well the 3d printer made them as she mentioned the recipe to him in the video chat with only a brief hesitation as the computer searched for her recipe. She smiled and told him of her day the day before and how she had made a new vase in her art class. A few seconds later he had it in his hands.
Alfred had long seen her win the school awards, the ribbons, her homework adorned in early childhood with gold star stickers in great clusters like a night sky on basic math and lined paper. He had seen her name the shared winged bee, the buzzing promise, the sure adulthood versions of ribbons and stickers while he was, well, he was Alfred.
He stood over his sister’s grave as the sky grew leaden and the winds ceased ending the gentle dance of leaves and branches. He stood there and suddenly felt every bone and muscle in his body, every ripple of fat, every scab, pimple and hangnail. All at once, a chaos of things, a cacophony of structure, form and presence. Her name was still seemingly freshly carved as though the crowds would still be there, the nest of crows of distant relatives in dark suits and dresses, a human clot.
The odd feeling again. So strange. A kind of erasure. A kind of forgetting.
He checked his twitter and there it was again. He was in a hurry and that storm was supposed to hit soon according to the app on his smart phone. He had posted his walk path and now his check in at the place for a quick lunch. He had taken 10 pics of his sushi and 4 after edits in those apps had been keepers and were sure to get comments on Instagram like a mold growing in a petri dish. He had put up on you tube 3 videos of his walk and some cool buildings he passed and a cloud. He made a vine of the wacky man in the park too and it was up now. He had tweeted along the way his thoughts on his new shoes and that crazy celebrity story. He at lunch and at the last few blocks posted a few choice zingers on Facebook and chuckled at that one pun he made. The yelp review he just made had those best sushi pics and he really felt he nailed the essence of what makes a good wasabi in just the right amount of words. He had podcasted about his tea and a quick sort of interview with a waiter. He had calculated his calories and posted it in those 4 groups to share.
He was puzzled and asked Siri a series of questions hoping to nail the answer to no avail. He Googled and posted a yahoo question just out of frustration. He got no results. He paid and left to walk back to work and the sky had begun to darken. The tiny cloud had grown to a thunderstorm ahead of the cold front still an hour to the west (the weather channel on the go app clearly showed this…he checked). The thunderstorm however was not predicted, was not previously charted or graphed or shown as data. It also had grown too large to photograph, just a grid space of city and slate gray. It didn’t matter the angle. His twitter had not gained any reshares or comments, the pain was almost a physical , tangible, visceral ache.
In the last year I lost a dog, crashed a car, gained a number on the heap that is my age, went on some dates,lost a fiance, got 7 hair cuts and lost a bit more faith in the world.
They found a city under a basement. I read about it in a book for some class with some name and some teacher droning on and on somewhere in my almost eaten away memories of that year in college. Imagine that. I am thrilled if I find an extra can of Spaghettios behind a box of stale cereal, a few odd orphan coins in the couch under the cushions. There were tunnels and staircases and different types of homes and stores and it was all under his crappy carpet. The guy only found this whole lost world because he had wood rot. I am 53 years old and my luck the wood rot would find mold which would find termites which would find wasps which would find angry disturbed ants which would irritate moths which would fly in panic irritating rats which would really piss of bats in the trees outside really annoying rabid wombats severely setting off the before unseen packs of deeply neurotic feral cats that would make such a racket it would drive to drink the once alcoholic vampires in the forests thereby really rubbing the wrong way the trying to be vegan werewolves ultimately sending a shivery wave across the land of general annoyance. Yep, that would suck.
It is so cozy watching things from behind a window. I noticed as a teenager sitting in the back as friends drove out to nowhere to de-stress during finals that window down it was hot, dusty, things almost seemed to want to move, cross the roads as we headed out of L.A, run in front of the wheels of my friend’s dad’s car. It was almost like cacti might jaywalk at random or grab my hand as it fluttered in the artifical breeze of speed of the aging station wagon and try to jump on in. The thought (classic vintage of my worry addled and ever spinning turbine brain…) was for a few miles fascinating as we all listened to music and static battle on the weak radio then not so relaxing, troubling even.
I rolled up the window that afternoon and something happened. The cactus, road signs, dust and other things seemed suddenly academic, distant, like pictures in an old encyclopedia and so passive and safe. Something about this was very soothing. We drove another hour or so before turning around and it was like things were more at ease in the world even with finals beginning the next day. It was something I learned later to come to quite often really.
I almost died last summer. The flu hit in the middle of the hottest day of the year and like the cliché of an unbalanced spurned lover it just would not let go. I wish I could find better words, that is such a corny metaphor but maybe the darkness and familiarity of it being recent just takes any cleverness off to a far distance. It was as though my body grew to hate me, to want to give up, just peel off the bones and go. The drive to the hospital felt like my kind neighbor who happened by to ask about an old comedy show on you tube was going 5 miles an hour on tires made of glue and feathers. It was an ugly slow kind of forever.
The last clouds that drift across the valley after the great choruses of thunder, the menageries of lightning, the concerts of rain against metal, water and stone, these orphans roll above bringing brief scatterings of shade sometimes no larger than a backyard or car, their bodies of gravity defied water clinging to tiny leaves,insect wings and dust
they ride in the quiet, in the settling, in the denouement , almost missing the crowd, the solid dark skies slate with the rain and storm, stragglers to miss the event for miles till they evaporate.
But perhaps this is the folly of a human skyward view, the anthropomorphizing tick toward simply humble bits of wind, moisture, agitation of atmosphere, the paintings of color and form in the blue.
Nothing less , nothing more.
I remember the edge of the receding gales of worry in filaments and shards
a sort of peace in the erasures like forgetting itself this time is the snake bite venom antidote
by mundane tasks, empty
open moments to be filled in in any way
mass or ballast so not of that horrible event that is now at least in the visceral immediate moving out of direct view
I remember it now as the new storm has arrived.