The moon’s on its way to November, sailing a sullen sky. I think the whole world breathed a sigh of relief tonight, when the major told us to find shelter, get some shut eye before tomorrow. We’re too close to the enemy for camp fire, all of us hiding behind trees, and under bushes, keeping as quiet as smoke, settling into the dirt and leaves like animals on the prowl.
He looked out into the grounds and couldn’t understand the blackness. He thought that it was dead leaves. There had been a storm throughout the night which had unsettled. The dreams had frightened. He became anxious again as he tried to recall. They teased him, they were there hovering near to the edge of his consciousness, without form…disturbing. The Priest gave up and went into his bathroom to shave. The tremor in his hand changed his mind. He rinsed his face and tried to pray, the familiar words, spoken every morning since he entered the Diocese sixty years back were alien to him. They choked him and he felt a tear run down his cheek. It occurred to the old man that maybe he was having a stroke.
“Dear Lord Jesus – please take care of my mom. Please welcome my papa into heaven, Lord. He was a good man and you’ll see that when you talk to him. Everyone knows it. My mom’s good, too, so please watch over her. She says she doesn’t believe in you – but I do – and I know that she does in her heart. She knows how much you love all of your children and I don’t want to die. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.”
With a beard the color of November clouds, the man came in most mornings at seven o’clock sharp when the gas station’s convenience store opened. The electric door chime sounded and he shuffled through in his tufty shoes, schlepping his plastic bag bounteous with empty bottles. The smells of earth, sweat and cypress clung to him.
Thommy Lemolo parks her car in Newtown Cemetery’s small lot shortly before 8:00 A.M. on a Tuesday. It’s a fine July morning, not yet sixty degrees, nary a cloud in the deep azure sky. For two weeks the weather had been uncharacteristically stagnant in the Pacific Northwest; jungle muggy, slick and greasy. But yesterday afternoon a series of wild thunderstorms had blown in from the Puget Sound and gave the region the equivalent of an atmospheric enema. Several lightning strikes had been reported in the vicinity of Torqwamni Hill—especially at Newtown Cemetery. One bolt was said to have hit the ancient oak tree inside the cemetery, yet it hadn’t left as much as a scar. Thommy’s “colleagues” at The Torqwamni Sun didn’t believe it; the pushcart bozos (not one checked up on the claim, mind you) believed that the three independent witnesses had been mistaken. Although Thommy had kept her thoughts on the subject to herself, she is confident that an A-bomb could detonate in the oak and not dislodge as much as an acorn.
There was always a queue to get in, too many drinks in an easy pub before hand and you were in trouble. You had twenty stairs to practise your date of birth. Even at the bottom of them you could hear ‘You Spin Me Right Round.’
He died on a Friday.
The July heat was already pouring in through the weathered old screen as he perished quietly in his slumber. He’d always insisted upon the open window, even on the very coldest of nights. His wife would wrap herself in layers and layers of electric blankets in those days when they still shared the same room, time and circumstances causing them to slowly drift apart in their sleep.
Thirty-nine years as husband and wife. Decades of laughter and illness, heartbreak, and euphoria gone in the span of a single heartbeat. She would never know what did him in, only that he slept. She found him there in the first blush of morning, leaving the room before turning back and placing her hand gently on the bedroom door. The new day opened up all around her, petals on a withered flower, as she realized they would never see their fortieth year together. Continue reading