While thumbing through a magazine in my doctor’s office waiting room I came across a picture of a unique contemporary structure, sitting on a hillside by the sea. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, but it sparked memories of my past. At eighty years of age, I must have many? I hope I do—I think—I’m not sure anymore.
We stared at the gravestone.
A bad wife, but an adequate mother and grandmother
It’s three feet farther to hell from New Town Bridge. The city recently installed an eighteen-inch “safety” extension to the pedestrian rail. Since it opened in 1978, at least twenty persons have jumped off the ugly gray span and found death waiting two-hundred feet below in the beckoning Philo Bay Narrows. Northern seas swiftly kill the pain; and when that comforting certainty outweighs the threat of damnation, I don’t see another foot and a half up, and down, getting in the way.
For once, Audrey was glad Mason had worn that maroon knit cap his dad had given him. The wind swept low around them as they sat on the park bench, chilling Audrey while the bare tree tops remained still.
Her son did not look up from doodling on his hand as he asked, “What did the people at the garage tell you?”
“They think they know what’s wrong, but they can’t fix it until tomorrow.”
“How much?” Now he started on the other side, turning his hand before she could look at the ink splotches covering his palm.
“Enough to cut into our hotel money. No continental breakfast for us, kiddo.” One transmission leak leaves us scrambling, she thought.
My son and I meet in the City, dinner and talk. And drink. More and more drink as time goes by. He is quite the drinker, my son is, Old Overholt Rye on the rocks–a drinkers drink. None of those blends that people call Rye. Who am I to talk? When I was his age, twenty-seven, I was out drinking every night and my poison of choice was Tequila.
But it’s not the same. Sometimes I think he needs his golden anesthesia to tolerate our time together. We hug hello and goodbye and he never acts embarrassed to kiss me when he sees me. We never have a bad time, not like the old days, which were rocky as all Hell. That’s okay. Fathers and sons should have a little conflict to make them stronger and bond as more than just parent and child when they get older. By now we should be bonded at the hip, but I worry that he’s getting the Irish disease which is even worse for a Jew than for a Mick. I should know.
Tiny clots of tissue and intestine trailed down my driveway and snaked around to the backyard. Before the touch of day, I’d let Shiva out to run free from the house and I. Two hours later and still no sign of her. She’d usually come back to the front door scratching and whining to get back in; negative 42 degrees had a way of making animals panic. The cold couldn’t bother me anymore, but the sun still did—it was too bright. I grabbed a jacket anyway and headed out to look for her. She had no problem jumping the metal fence around the property. And when she didn’t feel like jumping, she’d dig her way to freedom.
Lawrence Seymour, a chronic asthmatic, died on the floor of his parents’ bathroom on the day of the party celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.