Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keep On

No, I didn't take that picture.  Artsy right?  Tired of the snow pictures right?  Yeah, me too, but I wanted to get something up here tonight.  I just watched the North Carolina/Duke game on ESPN and it was probably one of the worst games in the long storied rivalry.  I should have been writing a long post about that rivalry, instead UNC is having a terrible year and Duke is mediocre at best.  Nevertheless I am frustrated.

Tomorrow, I will be putting up my play-by-play of the 1992 All-Star game for those of you who like basketball, jokes and gushing hyperbole.

Coming soon will be reviews of the movie "The Last Station," Thomas Wolfe as a writer, and the books "Family Album" by Penelope Lively and "A Fan's Notes" by  Frederick Exley.

Then of course will be my run down of All-Star weekend, which begins Friday.

Also, if you read this blog and would like me to write my thoughts on any albums or books, just e-mail me or post a comment and I will be happy to look into it.  I'm looking for a next album to review anyway.

Now, the next installment of Part II of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt.

Above a purple flower arrangement there was a brooding portrait of Mr. Abraham Bryant.  The background was Dutch Black and Doug’s father looked pale and forboding wearing a small smile.  Ben remembered Abraham.  He remembered how he and Connor used to use Doug for rides at school.  Abraham Bryant would drive them home in the family hearse.  Ben had always found it amusing – as he’d tell in stories when he was grown – when they’d pull into the driveway to shout, “Back from the dad, ma!”

    Ben felt the flask in the inside pocket of his black suit jacket.  It weighed down the breast slightly, but in the mirror it wasn’t noticable. The last time he’d come to a wake at Bryant and Sons, it was for Lucy. It had been good to see her made up and smiling, some color in her.  It was much better seeing her in peach than in the red he’d left her in after the surgery. I did that stone sober.  No, not this time.  But maybe then I wasn’t sober either.  There is nothing sober about guilt and anger.

Doug held out a meaty red hand towards the sliding handle of one of the home’s doors.

    “Wait,” Ben said. “I want the kids to bring me in.”

    “But,” Doug answered. “You have guests and well wishers waiting.  I don’t condone this in my home, Ben.  I’ve let it go on enough.”

    “God damnit, Doug.  Just give me this.”  Ben squeezed his sunglasses in his right hand.  He looked Doug directly in the face, every moment or so glancing at his developing jowels. “I’m sorry.”

    Doug looked down at the carpet.  He wiped his recently shined loafer in a windshield wiper semi-circle on the floor.  It left a whitish streak behind. “I’ll go in and tell them you’ll only be a moment.”  Doug went to open the door, but stopped and looked up at Ben. “I never liked a drunk.”

    “Neither did I,” Ben said.  He felt half-surprised at and half-prepared for the remark.

    Doug considered the exchange – felt nothing - and slid open the door a crack.  He managed to slide his husky frame in with an appearing ease.  Ben could make out Erin through the door’s opening before Doug closed it.  Maybe he’s here. The white of the door merged with the white of the wall making the room seem hidden.  Ben walked over to the purple flower arrangement and put the sunglasses back on his face.  He looked up at the darkly tinted face of Abraham Bryant.  He glanced quickly from side to side and took a long pull from his flask. Burn Sark! Burn upon my sea! If Crane wasn’t gay would he have jumped ship and drowned?

Abraham Bryant, right before he died, was the one who told Ben that he would’ve done the services for Tom had he died in the creek that day.  A family of bastards – the father and his sons.  I don’t remember George that well, though.  He’s probably around here shilling for more bodies.  Ben concealed the flask and stooped down to smell the flower arrangement. Despite the taste of scotch on his tongue, he smelt the perfume of the plants.  There were gladiolas, pansies, darker purple roses, which gave the whole arrangement its morbidity.  His wife, Rose, had never smelled like these flowers, the stale air in this building.  She’d smelt like moist skin, like mint toothpaste, like dish soap, broth, and, when they went out, like vanilla extract.  He wondered if they rubbed their smells on her body when she was dead and naked and lying before them.  Will her body smell the way the Bryants wanted it to smell when they lower her into the ground?

Ben rose from the flowers, he wouldn’t admit it, but he felt faint.  His feeling of faintness was not due to his drinking, but from the overwhelming sadness and loneliness that had suddenly overcome him.  It was as if the bittersweet – or even too sweet – smell of those grotesque purple flowers had given a scent or brief form to the life that waited for him without Rose.  The bright red carpet appeared to recede from him, but at the same time it was elongating and stretching out for an eternity.  What am I?  Will I have to live forever without her? Do I have a hundred more left in me?  Left for me?  He steadied himself on the wood table. No, I’ll just have to hang on for a few years and die warm in my bed.  Maybe I’ll put a glass of milk on the nightstand too, for the cookies as my last supper.  If its going to be a last supper then I’ll have to put the milk on her nightstand.  I’ll have to clear it off first.

“Dad,” Maggie said from behind.  She touched Ben’s side.

He turned slowly and put his hand on top of her hand. “Ah, thank God its you, Mags. I was afraid it might be a ghost.”  As he faced her he saw his other three children standing behind and beside her.  He saw Eve standing back, her hand low holding James’.  His oldest son James who seemed to have lost some of his confidence or poise in the few days since he’d come home.  Ben knew this observation could’ve only been all of the drinking, but he also knew that it could’ve been because of all the drinking.

“Oh, Dad,” Liza stepped up next to Maggie.

“Well,” James said. “Shouldn’t we go in?”

“Man’s eternal dilemma,” Ben answered.

Tom laughed without looking at his father.  He kept his eyes on the picture of Abraham Bryant.  What was up his ass?  That could’ve been man’s eternal question too.  At least that’s what it seems like everyone is always wondering about each other.  No, but we should go in, we should take the plunge.  Will I feel sanctity like in church, will there be a meaning in there?  Maybe she’ll come too. Now that’s a plunge.

“What are we waiting for?” James asked.

“Is Uncle Connor here?” Maggie asked.

“Ah,” Ben began.

“The other⎯”

Ben nodded.  He pointed toward the door. “Lead the way, kids.”

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