Dog poop and dirt are all over the streets. How many bugs have I trod on today? How many legs and antennae are stuck on my boots? When I come inside, I step directly into the kitchen.
The baby crawls around here.
He was making his way across the den in the dark when he brought the heel of his right foot down on it. Cursing under his breath he hopped and hobbled to the light switch next to the door so he could see what he had stepped on. It was the little sculpture that his boy, Jacob, had made that day from his Lego’s, or whatever the building block craze du jour was this afternoon. This one hurt, lots of sharp edges. He moved closer to examine it. Picking it up, he held it to the light.
It was interesting. It looked like a prehistoric creature, perhaps a pterodactyl or some other dinosaur whose name he did not know and would never be able to spell or pronounce. The creature appeared to be impersonating a waiter. His wingless left arm was held low in front of him, bent at the elbow. It needed only a towel or cloth napkin; crisp, creased, and draped carefully below his elbow to make the picture complete. His right arm was placed behind his back. The pose was formal, that of a professional and attentive server explaining the daily specials, or the wine list to a party of conventioneers. Conventioneers, who happened to be in town for three days. Three days where no one really expected them to work before returning to Omaha or Toledo or wherever it was that they came from. Good strong Midwestern stock. They would return to their frumpy wives and spoiled children; back to their Ford sedans and humdrum jobs; their erotic fantasies, their dreams about their own particular Cecilia. They all had a Cecilia who went by one name or another.
Cecilia, who worked in Marketing; Cecilia, with the long dark hair and voluptuous figure, Cecilia with the slight song in her speech that made her sound as though she might be Latin. Cecilia who wore short skirts and low cut blouses, whose dark eyes would flash with heat, conveying desire or disdain. Cecelia whose full lips, full breasts, and long legs those conventioneers would only ever dream of. Cecilia whom they would never approach, the risk was too great. They were, after all, regional sales leaders, with too much to lose. They had houses in the suburbs. They had families. They voted Republican and they attended church on Sundays – way too much to lose.
Placing the reptilian head waiter on the arm of the sofa he continued to the kitchen. Mandy had prepared the coffee pot the night before so that it would be ready for him this morning. He pushed the button to start it and wondered if Mandy knew he was thinking of Cecilia when he was lying with her. Wondering who Mandy thought of when she lay with him, he lit a cigarette and went outside to retrieve the paper.
I sit on the couch with my head in my hands.
Unnoticed, my cigarette falls from the souvenir ashtray,
slowly scarring the top of the veneered coffee table.
I stop pouring, rush to the door.
It must be you.
You’ve come back.
It’s not you at all though, it’s just the rain.
I return to my brown liquor. I return, to wallow in self-pity.
Three times I pull the door open.
Three times I rush to gather you into my arms.
Three times I am fooled by the rain and so;
3 times I crawl slowly… slowly back to the whiskey.
It’s late, after midnight.
I hear the rain at the door and ignore it.
I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t be fooled again.
It’s not knocking
it’s just the rain.
There is no answer at the door.
It’s two steps down from the stoop – to the pavement.
Your cab is waiting, engine idling softly.
The rain falling in front of the headlights is liquid fire.
In the cab you wipe your face, you wipe your eyes.
It’s not tears
it’s just the rain.
She pauses in her work
the man is staring.
Breathing through his mouth.
His breath smells of carrion,
rancid and dead.
She freezes in place.
Flamboyantly, yet tastelessly dressed,
a garish plaid waistcoat
an olive drab sports jacket.
Pomaded hair with a thick crust like a tortoise’s shell.
Uneven splotches of beard testify to a recent unfamiliarity
with a razor.
Eyebrows so long they are worn slicked back,
pointing towards his ears.
sprouting tufts. Hair growing like rye grass – proud
Drop the broom, she thinks
RUN, but she’s unable to move.
Not unlike a deer in headlights she can only stare.
With each passing second her eyes grow wider.
A soft mewling sound rises from her throat
as she whimpers in fear.
Is this it then?
Is this how it ends? In fear?
When her bladder releases; the warmth gives her purchase
She pivots on the ball of her foot,
like a dancer.
The broom falls unnoticed into the snow.
She begins to run.
away from his outstretched hand.
His hand that clasps only air. Not today…
Made from the heart, made with her hands.
She made it for me, not for some other man.
From paper and crayons with a large scoop of love,
A sketch of our family, seen as only she can.
Where is the daughter who colored for me?
Drew people, and creatures that only she’d see.
A life of her own where I’m not allowed
Where is that girl, quick to smile and so free?
That daughter is gone. Lost on the way.
I wish she was here now. For this thing I pray.
Drugs? Alcohol? The wrong set of friends?
The changes were subtle, and colored with grey.
The picture still hangs in a frame on the wall,
I linger and stare when I walk down the hall.
The daughter is gone but her memory’s here.
I lie awake nights, hoping she’ll call.
The days are long now. Made for working hard,
and playing hard. This is your time.
The nights are warm. Perfect for soft tee shirts,
and flowered cotton dresses.
Barbeques and industrious pastimes.
Build something. Line your nest. Tell Lorraine how you really feel.
Listen to her, learn from her. She is wiser than you.
Now is the time – your time, her time.
Spend it together.
“One quarter the take,” Rocky answered.
“What’s that going to be?” I asked; a seemingly endless supplier of questions.
“No less than 50 million.” He set the semiautomatic .45 ACP on the counter and turned it so that the grip was facing me. It was a beautiful pistol with a matte black finish and polished rosewood grips.
“So that would be 12 point 5 for me?” I was still asking questions.
“No, that would be 50 for you. The total will be four times that.”
“And what is it exactly that you want me to do for this 50 million?” I was trying to conceal my interest so I reached over and picked up the piece that he had set down.
“Crack the safe. That’s what you do innit?” Rocky squinted his left eye and peered at me from the other?
“Yeah… yeah it is, for the most part. What kind is it?”
“It’s an ole Diebold, closet safe with a 900 series lock.”
“Nobody’s going to keep that kind of money in an antique,” I said, “What’s the catch?”
Rocky started asking questions, “Are you in, or what?”
“Yeah, I’m in, Rocky. Just ’cause it’s you – and ’cause we go way back.” I racked the slide on the 45. It was smooth.
“There’s a newer safe awright,” Rocky said. “A Hamilton. It’s harder to break, but still doable. The new safe is a decoy though. Ya spend yer time breaking that, all fer nothin’ – while the money sits in a closet, the next room over, in the ole Diebold. It’s only gonna be in there for one night though so our timetable is set. Come on, I’ll show you the layout. We got less than a month.”
I walked around the counter and we went through the curtain to the back room. A workbench and some tools lined one wall. A small round table occupied the other end of the narrow space.
Seated at the table was a tall thin man with close cropped dark hair and a handlebar mustache, I pegged him at about 40 years old. Next to him sat an older woman. She was wedged into a pastel colored summer dress that fit her like a sausage case, her hair washed a light blue. Based on the resemblance and the age difference, I figured they were mother and son. I knew who they must be.
“He’s in,” Rocky told them and you could see them relax as the tension fled out the high transom windows into the alleyway.
“You must be the McCoy’s.” I said and stuck out my hand. “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to meet you both.”
“Join us?” said Martha McCoy indicating the two empty chairs.
Huddle with your loved ones when you can.
Share warmth but take care not to stifle
Watch through the kitchen window
as the snow falls gently, silently in the garden –
Breathe deep over your cup and remember Lorraine.
She loved the snow.
Fill your days with purpose:
in the same way that the hourglass fills your life with sand.
Sleep deeply at night with
Woolen blankets pulled up to your chin.
Know that you will wake in the morning to do it again.
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