Rip woke in a frenzy. What a nightmare he’d had. Befuddled by layers of dust on the furniture, his feet numb with sleep, he left the house. How long had it been?
A trail behind his house led to an overgrown pasture. Where were the cows he kept? And if they were gone, why hadn’t the deer replaced them? He tuned his ears to the sounds of birds and heard nothing. He found the river, now a creek. Sixty years ago, there’d been a spring that gushed from a rock. Now it was silent. Hope’s season had come and gone.
That summer Gene, eyes longing, looked at Billie Jo like she was a county fair roller coaster. She got dizzy thinking about that look. Sitting in a lawn chair, sipping iced tea, and reading starlet magazines, Billie Jo thrilled to stories about Hollywood. She and Gene would play opposite each other as romantic leads. She was sure they’d have fantastic careers in show business.
Come the fall chill, Gene never looked
at her that way. It was always some other way and she didn’t always
like to admit it, but she should have known things would turn out
All of this is true. I wore a forty
year old skirt I’d made when I was fifteen. I’d lost some weight. I
brought my teenagers to the party. While eating appetizers, the
hostess gushed and I blushed. Rhyme intended. All I could think about
at dinner was how much I wanted to be sitting with the teens, talking
about horror flicks. I have no interest in expensive wine.
Segue to the kid’s table. I’m patched in. The one upping seems more honest, until it seems more pointed. “You sew. How retro.” The daughter glibly changes the subject to France.
A woman worked the aisles of the train, singing a minor key Middle Eastern version of the blues in a guttural language. She wore primary colors in ancient patterns, suggesting crystal balls and gypsy caravans. You could tell she wanted money. Her stooped shoulders and broken teeth said she deserved it. At the end of the car, she pulled a metal bar from her skirts. Twisting it to jimmie the door, she took a breath in before crossing to the next car. Her scarves wrapped around her hand, she skipped across the swiftly moving gap of light above the tracks.
The careening red VW, no license plate, jumps the sidewalk. Zero culpability. It simply climbs over me. Waving my arms, I’m screaming like a madman while it turns the corner. The bug is looking for an address, looking with yellow insect eyes mounted on the windshield. What does it see through those compound eyes? Multiple images of the same thing from slightly different angles enhanced by kaleidoscopic colors like it’s on an acid trip. How will it know when to stop? I call the police. After the adrenaline ebbs, after I hear the explosion, then I wake up.