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.
Traegger Cable, too, took in that loveliness, the sheathed agreement of their first meeting, how yellow clung in curves, arches, turning darker where it was darker, tossing daylight about her, splashing it around, washing the lithe frame she carried with sunlight. Her hair, once again, shook loose, a forgotten attendant that sat lightly on the forehead, wind-worked as ever, playing a game, being innocent in the very breath that created motion. Cable someplace, somewhere, had seen this pose, this framed moment. He struggled to find who or where, at what point of travel such a sight had been captured that it now came back to him so richly.
Morning came bright and eager, and the barest chill bit the air, as Cable looked out over the small piece of Sunquit visible from Frank’s deck. From every quarter came evidence of the storm, debris scattered as if giant baskets had been emptied on the land. Trees had been ripped out of the ground and tossed singly or in piles, their limbs shorn of leaves, bark stripped in huge rents. Every point at the high water mark was littered with wood, huge planks torn from God knows where, boards of every description, two by fours and moldings and fashioned woodwork and now and then large sheets of plywood scaled to a hard resting place, partly buried in sand or debris piles. He could see boat parts of upper decks driven high up on the shore and thought of the agony associated with each piece, the drama which might have surfaced at their rending. Continue reading
The barber-striped blades of the level crossing fell and, one breath later, civilisation fired past like a bullet from a gun. I waited, Rum tensed at my side, and then continued on, releasing the extension lock on his lead, the swish of his ribboned tail communicating his pleasure at this small freedom. At the crest of the road, I stepped, and Rum bounced, over the sagged section of fence wire and into the field. The land lay fallow, my Hunters squelching in the waterlogged grooves of the soil, dull and lifeless in the shadow of the fir forest. On rare summer days, when heat distorted the air into ruffled fabric, the line of firs shifted and undulated, an emerald curtain revealing another world – which, for me, it did. Every morning, I came to learn more about its indigenous race of insects – gods of nothing, my husband called them – while Rum conquered the undergrowth with a raised hind leg, each of us in our element. My latest academic paper was on the Andrena fulva – the tawny mining bee – due for publication in the forthcoming volume of Entomologist’s Gazette. I never used to believe that I had the intellectual capacity for science, but time taught me that brains came second to commitment and, after six years married to Paul, I was more committed to my work than ever.
Maybe it was the mini-roller coaster in Coney Island.
The one before the crazy spinning turbo that had fucked up his back with an unexpected jolt.
Maybe it was the…
Listen, you’ve gotta hear this.
I was over by my Ma. I don’t see her much, but I’m trying to do better.
Some of you guys have met my girlfriend, Doris. She comes from a big family so I figure I’ll take her over to Ma’s house and that way I get to see my Ma and Doris sees that I’m a good family man. Can’t hurt.
We saw it coming the whole time. Chase was a nice enough guy; he just wasn’t cut out for this line of work. We watched him fail over and over, everyday. For a while we tried to help but there were just too many mistakes and most of them were pretty big. It would have been a full time job minimizing the damage he caused. When he had to answer to Fisher in the morning meetings he’d stammer out fragments of explanations he hoped one of us would jump in and finish. None of us ever did. We couldn’t. We were as blown away by his mistakes as everyone else. All we could do was look at our shoes and hope he wouldn’t cry again. That only happened a few times but that was enough for all of us.