We went as far as his car would take us, driving past the smoking blue mountains of north Georgia and Tennessee, the hickory sweetness invading the cracked leather of our 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier, which was an indistinguishable red-brown-orange depending on which angle you looked at it from. We sped through the once-treasured nightmare of Detroit, the neglected chaotic sunset of Dallas. Yellowstone, freshly scorched and withered from its latest cleansing.
I bought a Dracula painting at the Thrift store yesterday. The clerk looked at me with contemptuous eyes as she scanned the price ticket. I thought I heard her whisper “That gothic child just wasted his money” as I walked towards the door.
As a youngster, I watched as my father was electrocuted while stringing Christmas tree lights. I remember his body flopping on the carpet like a gaffed tuna before coming to rest near my little feet. My mom walked in and dropped her groceries all over my little head. I was unable to attend his funeral, having been admitted to Anchorage Memorial Hospital with a head full of lumps and a lifelong fear of colored lights.
As I walk from the metro station to work one Monday morning, I see a guy at the curb, watching the traffic and sweeping his arms as if conducting an orchestra. He wears a bright red sweater, dress slacks, and wing-tip shoes. But everything’s dirty, and the sweater is far too big for him. He also needs a shave and has greasy gray hair. As I walk past him wondering if I’m going to notice an odor, he glances at me and crinkles his nose.
The last time I saw M. Renoir, he was sitting beneath an umbrella at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, leisurely drinking coffee and glancing through a newspaper. M. Renoir, every inch the French gentleman with closely trimmed mustache and beard–gray streaking at his temples–was usually impeccably dressed, his hat and cane placed casually upon the seat of an adjacent chair. I say “usually” since, on this occasion, he appeared not altogether unlike a much poorer and less refined version of himself. I was, I confess it, rather taken aback at his appearance.
I’m in the club. In the home of smoke, dope, short, short skirts and low-cut, nipple revealing tops, iron-hard six packs, bulging biceps, desperate dealings, shitty, shady pick-up lines and nine-millimeter lethal put-downs.
My stomping grounds. I embrace my ex. Look over her shoulder for my next ex to be.
I’m bouncing to the beat with a hottie that got potential and a none slip differential – and then I’m not.
Raine was in the next town when the accident happened. She pulled over at the roadblock where a man in uniform with a very big gun said, “There’s been an accident at the plant, Mam. Evacuation underway. You can’t pass.”