Well, I’ll tell it to you straight, my life has gone to poop. Here’s how I ruined it:
I’m on my third slow loop through a nearly-empty parking lot, passing by darkened stores as the last workers depart on a Sunday night. The land on which the mall sits was once part of the Everglades – I helped survey it as a summer job years ago. I’d wade into the forest with a machete and mark the trees developers would be saving – the slash pines were going, but the live oaks would stay to be stranded in asphalt.
Three days ago, Tristan, my cousin’s boyfriend, was waiting at a stop sign on his motorcycle when an inattentive driver plowed into him. If I delay my arrival any longer, I’d miss his viewing completely, so I finally drive across the street to the funeral home.
Whatever happened to the power-chord?
To which my boyfriend lit a bowl
Was A Stairway to Heaven really the greatest song?
Think it over as you pass that on
Said he’d love me till the end of time;
Forever came to stay in 1989
Still, he was never all so great;
For me that bell had tolled in ‘88
Thirty years go by in the glaze of an eye;
Can it be it’s always the promising future that lies?
When my sister Tess and I were girls we’d often visit our father’s grave in New Town Cemetery. Although he had died suddenly when I was two and Tess an infant (thus destined to be little more to us than a face in the family photo album and a grave in the cemetery), we’d make time for “Dear Father” because we had agreed that it was the sort of thing daughters should do. I would recite a psalm memorized from Granna Ivy’s Bible, and Tess would lay a hastily clapped-together bouquet of daisies, buttercups and bluebells on his headstone. I recall admonishing her for the frequent inclusion of dandelions to the arrangement, “Those are weeds, numbskull.” Tess would defend the addition of dandelions on the grounds that “Nobody grows daisies, buttercups or bluebells on purpose, either, bonehead.”
It was windy, it was cold and it was pissing down with rain. Craig Spark and Carl ‘Robbo’ Robinson sat illuminated by a flickering streetlamp on a graffiti-stained park bench sharing a litre bottle of White Lightning cider. A church bell chimed midnight and a cat screeched. A siren wailed in the distance.