Saturday, January 16, 2010


I've got my dog at my apartment until Tuesday so I've been having a good time taking care of him and getting increased excercise by trying to tire him out.  I still have a lot of thoughts that were bouncing around in my head while I was writing the Veedon Fleece post and also after I re-read what I had written.  I'm going to try and consolidate those and put them up in a post or try to incorporate them into future album reviews or musings.

What I'm planning  coming up on the blog is a review of Gene Clark's No Other, ruminations from one of my writing journals, a breakdown of the NBA All Star Rosters once they are released, perhaps even some NBA All-Stat memories - you know, more of the usual stuff.

I also just got an HD Flip Camera so you will be seeing more video content on here. The video content will mainly be comic shorts that will hopefully be funny.  Eventually, though, I would like to get my own web series up here, but  I am going to need the help of my friends and also some more time to brainstorm plots and ideas.

So get excited for me to not let you down.

Now, the next installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt:


    I come down the stairs and walk into the den.  I see mom standing there with a baby on her shoulder.

    “Hi, mom,” I say.

    She looks over at me. I know she’s looking in my direction but it seems like she is staring past me.  In any case the room is elongated.

    “He’s sleeping.”

    “Oh.  I’ll get a bottle.”

    Mom smiles. “I have one.”

    “Thanks, mom.”

    “Eve’s sleeping?”

    “Yes, she’s tired.”

    “This is a beautiful boy.” She rocks back and forth.  Her hips are swaying and so is her hair which seems much more vibrant than I ever remember.  I walk closer to her.  She sings into the baby’s ear.

    “Who’s a little whosits? Whats a little whatsits?”

    “That same little song,” I say.

    She nods and looks down at the baby.

    “You hold her, James.”


    “You’re the father.  Sing to your daughter.”

    “What if I break her?”

    “Don’t worry.  He’ll  be strong like the rest of us.  Even Tom.”

    My mother still exists even though she is dead.

    “James? James?”  A girlish lilt says.

    I’m staring ahead at the contrast of the worn wood and the brightly flashing electronic jukebox.  A picture of Toby Keith flashes up on the screen.  It fades into one of the Rolling Stone album covers.  They are young with unkempt Beatles haircuts, they look pockmarked and British. My eyes focus and unfocus.


    I focus.  I’m back from wherever I was.  I need to get home.  Eve is next to me, shoulder to shoulder.  It’s Ariel talking .

    “You there?”

    “Oh, yeah,” I say.

    “I was wondering the same thing myself,” Eve says.

    Ariel looks at Eve.  She laughs and it’s a forced laugh.  One that I’ve known so well at bars, at work, at work bars, at work functions and luncheons.  I don’t remember my mother doing it and I wonder if anyone else stops to think if their mother forced a laugh in her life or not.

    “We’re going down Port,” she says. Now she’s just looking at me playing with her tanned leather bag on her shoulder.  Her eyelashes playing too.  “Do you want to come?” I’m drunk or fairly close to it,  and if those small hairs would ever speak a music to me it would be now and yet I don’t care what they have to say.  My lids are tired and my wife’s shoulder is touching my shoulder.  My wife.

    “No.  I need to get home.  We need to get home.  Tomorrow is…”

    Ariel nods. “I understand.”  She hesitates.  She takes a step toward me and then back, still with a hand on her bag.  She wants to kiss me. “It was good to see you again, James.  And it was nice to meet you Eve.”

    She doesn’t.

    Then I watch her as she leaves.  Her hips – her ass – moving from side to side.  Slim and round and not ready to give birth like Eve – my wife – will be doing in nine months.  I look at Eve.  I let my eyes  wander down to her small breasts and then to her wider – not wide – waist.  Above it her womb covered in a stylish dark dress that is soft and somehow casual.  When I’m drunk I notice things more.

    The people I know and who know me are leaving out the front door.  I lock my fingers with Eve.  She’s been quiet.  I know I’ve been wrong.  I’m an ass.

    “Ben’s probably wiped out,” she says.  She says it quietly. “Let’s go.”

    “You’re right, honey.”

    I take her whole form in again.  Her body outline I know so well against the wood and the jukebox and the beer and toilet stink of this institution.  Her against my home, her against the world.

    “Lemme just finish my beer.”

    I grab it and its slightly warm.  Then her hand is on my wrist.  It’s more than slightly warm.

    “Better leave it.”

    I move my mouth to begin a smile, but I see her eyes and I know she means it.  She wants to go and  I’m in trouble.  I’ve been acting like an ass, yes I have.  This whole being home has made me slip.  I must smell like wet grass and the stale sweat of a lacrosse jersey.  I’m melting backward into town.  Melting backward into time.  I leave the beer where its perched.  I take her hand and she accepts it.  My first move is a step towards the front door where I know Tom is sitting outside with that cute girl he was with – and good for him for that – but I hesitate crossing feet, then I pull my right back across with as much grace as I can and head for the back door.  Eve is attached to me by the hand, a weight that is not burden but merely extension.  And I feel this now with the light blurred and my mind moving fast as my father must have felt, and perhaps still feels, about a tall slowly glinting bottle.

    Merely is not how I feel.

    We pass the bar.  Melky catches a pop up and the Yanks win 6-3.  The news is already on the other TV so I don’t know if the Mets won or lost.  Now out  the back door the smell of exposed bark overtakes any lingering cigarette smoke.  We – my handmeld with Eve – move through the wet grass, step over the slanted and falling wood fence that separates the bar from the neighbors, quickly hop through mulch and make it to the glowing street.

    And Ridgeway is glowing, it isn’t slick, there are patches of grey, the drying.  Her hands are slick.  Not slick, but warm and moist – the clamminess I’ve always loved.  If someone saw the two of us together, attached, maybe we’d still look like newlyweds, which I suppose we are. But the people who saw us in the bar knew.  I tried my best to put Eve in the conversation, but I failed.  It was never like that before, not with people from my past around and not with…not with the secrets and the growing form.

    “I’m sorry about all that back there,” I say.

    “It’s fine,” she says. “I know you’re grieving.”

    I know she knows I’m grieving.  I know its not fine and I know she knows that I know its not fine.  But what am I going to do?  I have to do something about it.  That’s what I’ve been good at.  Not that  I ever had to stand up against such odds.  My life has been free of tragedy.  I just had to carve the turkey one Thanksgiving when Aunt Diane was too overbearing in her navy pant suit and dangling gold bracelets and Dad wouldn’t have any of it.  He’d snuck a drink I think, but we’ll never be sure because he’d never say.  The turkey was left there, a little gravy gelatin gathering on the skin.  I cut it, releasing the heat into the kitchen.  So much heat on a cold night that the sky lights were fogged – only blurred reflections of our family, pots, dishes of mashed potatoes.

    “I’m a little drunk,” I say.

    She stops and takes a good look at me.  Her mouth is a little pursed, but still beautiful.  She’d make faces like that with her small lips pinched together when we joked under the covers, or when I wore a pillow as a crown.  What guy thinks he will come to that silliness?  But now its different.  This is real.  Its all real.

    “Now you sound like Ben.”

    I’m looking at her stomach, still flat.

    “You sound like the rest,” she continues.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Always writing things off to fate or heredity.  That’s what I loved about you.  That you were not just different from them, but from everyone.  There was an accountability for things.  Sure maybe a fate brought me to you, or you to me, but I knew at heart you always felt an accountability in love.  Not just in love but in life.”

    Now I’m the quiet one.  The dynamics in this walk have shifted.  We’re still holding hands but her fingers are higher up on my wrist, inching along the forearm.  I don’t know what to say.  I look through the trees, where front porch lanterns are shining and making the small shapes of leaves.  The sand along the slightly raised side pavement is dark brown.  I see a white house.  One I have passed so many times walking, driving, running - a typical colonial of the town.  Old and tested, regal, inviting on cold days, open and romantic during the summer.  When I was younger and I looked at it, I felt those things.  I thought who lived nearby.  Did Chis Curtis live around here? That cute girl Elyse from my gym class?  But now these cases have no meanings.  Is there someway that the names can still grip me?  If they can than these houses still can and I don’t want them to.  I don’t want any of it to.  All I want is the sweatiness from her palm. What does that mean?

    We continue up Ridgeway’s long hill and turn onto our street.  We walk, still quiet, listening to our footsteps.  I kiss her neck.  I kiss her cheek.

    “I love the sound of echoing footsteps in a neighborbood,” she says. “It is joy.”

    “It is?”

    She smiles briefly. “For me I guess it’s the definition.”

    The curve bends showing us long lawns.  One of the street lights is out and there is a stretch of darkness.  It seems long, but it isn’t so bad.  We make it to the gate, still holding our hands.  The cars are parked along the curb as we left them, as we’ve been used to.  Whoever had to make the getaway was never blocking the others.

    We enter through the black gate, I let Eve pass before me.  In darkness we approach the shining light of the front porch.  As we climb the finely done Latin American stone work -  it looks like its from Montana - Eve stops me.

    “Why did you act that way in the bar?”

    “I’m feeling a bit…”

    “No, I know its not that,” she takes my other hand. “Something is wrong.”

    I can hear crickets.  I hadn’t heard them earlier.  Why can’t I stop looking at her womb? I know why of course.

    “It’s my mom,” I say. “Its my dad.  It’s everyone.  They tear me up.  They need me and they don’t need me – I need them.”

    She pulls me closer. “I know.”
    “I love you.”

    “But its something else,” she says.

    I look down at her.  Its our first date filtered through a strange new light.  Its off and maybe we’re not the same two fools.


    “Do you want,” she pauses. “What do you want from me?”

    I take her cheeks with my hand.  I see her hair, shorter, longer, vibrant from the hairdresser, a mess after sex or after a Sunday when we slept until two just to sleep next to each other. Things pass but its all her.  Where does this all come from?  How is she my wife?  How is she this to me?

    “Nothing.  Just you.  The ways its always been.”

    She purses again.  I think she might want to say something, but instead she kisses me.

    “You acted like a high school jerk tonight.”

    “I’m sorry.” I kiss her.

    We stand embracing in this strange September night.  Husband and wife at the edge of a new decade. What do young married couples do to shirk responsibility?  Young people act reckless, get drunk, travel, treat each other poorly.  But not two people as normal in love as us.  I’ve never acted reckless.  And why do I want to now?

    “I’m sorry too,” she says. “I’m asking and testing you on the night before your mother’s funeral.”

    I pull her in closer.  I’m standing with my wife, stooped under the overhead light that sits over the black door.  The doorpetal is shining.  Maybe I get a pass and maybe I deserve a pass.  But I want to pass the tests.  I really do.  I want to be the best for everyone.  I’m just.

    “I’m afraid.”

    “I know,” she says, “And I still can’t.”

    A slight  breeze picks up.  I notice we are holding both of our hands together, pressed up near our chins. Its like we’re on the altar again.  But its my front porch and this time the ceremony is something completely different.

    “Yes,” I say. “I’m sorry.”

    She grips my left hand firmly, but not my right.

    “So where does this leave us?”

    I see her in my apartment on our first date.  She’s on the couch and I’m sitting on the floor.  That small couch – more of a loveseat – and I couldn’t squish her on it, not on our first date.  I held a glass of wine, a white that looked orange and pissy in the bad lighting of my place.  I tried to explain the flavors, the bits I’d picked up from the guy in the store.  She laughed.  Turning her face up and not meaning to.  Posing and not meaning to.

    “You know nothing about wine, huh?”

    I smiled, looking down at my shoes. “You don’t hold back on a guy on a first date.”

    “Just play me some George Harrison and it’ll be alright.”

    “What if the best I have is Pet Sounds?”

    She rolled her eyes and smiled. “Pretentious.  But it wouldn’t be the first time.”

    “But I want to be.”

    And then quiet.  Bad lights.  The wine suddenly smelling fragrant. Fruity, crisp, and strongly alcoholic.  She and I looking – like the night we conceived.

    “It leaves us in the same place.”

    “Yes,” she says.

    “Right on the doorstep.”

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