Hobie Barkley was a first-riser most of his life, and once he was of exploring age, able to go on his own, he toured the mountain like it was newly presented to him, a gift from the God of Mountains. Nobody in the Greater Hills Region of Colorado knew it any better than him. Even some of the old prospectors, their habits and labors cut way back by age, infirmity or a newly-found woman, did not rise to his habits.
Last night I dreamt of the happy-clappy pixie-land extolled by the counterculture of yore. That hippie Eden where daisies shot from rifles because everyone there was so high on lysergic acid that they no longer experienced reality. It was a place populated by paisley-eyed toad kissers who honestly believed that they were the first generation of paisley-eyed toad kissers who knew that the world sucked and that they alone could kiss toads into The Gurus of Change. Viva Revolucion! Alas, psychedelic drugs and fairy tale-belief systems are the stuff of idealistic chimeras. It all eventually wears off and leaves you cold and cynical. By and by you come to the hideous conclusions that the Good Guys never stay good after they win the Revolution, and that every toad you kiss has a way of changing into Richard Nixon.
As I stood on the top of the tower and looked down, I wondered if I should jump.
I decided against it, for the fourth night in a row, and headed downstairs for a cup of tea. I wanted tea more than I wanted death, so things worked out great, all things considered.
I couldn’t help thinking, though, while I sipped on my tea, that, right at that moment, I could have been a bloody, broken pile on the concrete path, perfectly, precisely between the two spot-lights aimed up at the tower.
After finishing my tea, I went to bed and, before I feel asleep, thought: maybe tomorrow, then.
I’m rolling my head back and forth back and forth for hours at a time, sometimes against the wall, sometimes along the bed. I regard my first morning view, freezing ice frost patterns on the inside of my single window. Then it’s back to blankets awhile and rolling my head. To be free you must connect with people, withdrawing with my rocking is disappearance in my trance. But it is also liberation. I conjure up visions from the pace. My intent: to take the randomness of life and organize it, to picture by motion daily happenings and rhythm out a purpose. I spin through a back and forth reverie sweep of prairie sky, the colour and thought of the blue turning in my mind, imagine the bridge over the South Saskatchewan river, take that bridge to wilderness, to antelope leaping over the Great Sand Hills. I have $42.39. I’m 24 years old. I have a college degree. I lie on my bed and rock.
Maye Tuong was part Chinese, had three brothers and one sister, all married and moved out, and she lived with her mother and father across the Saugus River, at the upper end where a small wooden bridge spanned the water. Her mother was the Chinese parent, not the father, Henry Tuong, who was, as far as I knew, an old Lynn boy from way back who brought his wife home from one of his wars as a Marine. Shanghai rang a bell but I was never sure of where. I did know some other things about Maye, fact or fiction as you’ll have it, which had settled into my mind because she was extremely shapely for one thing; and she never had a date, at least I never saw her with a fellow. One time in the past, I heard, she’d been embarrassed at the beach when someone spotted a patch of thick, black hair on her backside, just below her waistline. A small patch it was, but a patch out of place. A few tough and pointed wisecracks were tossed off at that time and Maye was never seen at the beach again, never seen in a bathing suit again. I was one of those who never saw Maye at the beach or in a bathing suit. I never saw that thick, black out-of-place patch either, but had thought about it, I’m willing to bet, on a daily occurrence, perhaps hourly if you’re aware of the routine. Maye, on this night when the story really began, was 28 years old, or thereabouts, having unsettled some of my recent and late night thoughts, the older woman kind that haunt and capture and beset the young mind; let me teach you a thing or two, young man, you naughty boy, you.
Are you over eighteen?
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. Gerard sips his coconut milk coffee, then places it back on the mint green saucer. At least that’s what I imagine him doing whilst he’s typing away to me on his phone. I picture him trying to hide what he’s doing from his wife and kids as they sit around the sofa together watching a family movie. I picture him feeling embarrassed and adrenalized all at the same time You just look young in your profile.
After my wife died, I volunteered on a crisis line. “You must keep clear limits with callers,” said Marilyn the training coordinator. “Don’t under any circumstances interact with anyone in person.”
I didn’t tell her that my boundaries were non-existent. That’s why I lived mostly alone.
Sadie puts a bottle of white wine in the fridge before she goes out for a long run. She figures that if the run doesn’t help purge her of the toxins from the day then maybe the wine will. And if that doesn’t work she always has that fifth of bourbon on the bookshelf that girl from work gave her for Secret Santa, red bow taped to the top, and a few oxy left over from her thumb surgery last summer stashed at the bottom of the clothes hamper. But she figures the run, or the wine, should do just fine.
It was Nelda’s virgin adventure in ordering from East, a website with ridiculously low prices on electronics. All the goods were from China and took weeks or months to arrive. Reviews of East noted that each order was a surprise package ranging in quality and value from outstanding to profoundly disappointing. The reports also stated that returns were not practical, and that technical help was nonexistent.
Well here we are at week 275.
I’ve written quite a few short stories but I think I’ve only ever written one about a serial killer.
I didn’t really go into any technicalities, it was all about the aftermath.
Something happened this week that shows me that I’m not suited to do the type of research that is needed.