Lamb asked him where he’d gotten it, and he said the pharmacy threw out a whole crate of them. His closet was full. He spun the little plastic wheel and put the cardboard camera against his eye and told her to smile.
She moved, kicking at him, just as the flash went off, ruining it, and ran into the bathroom. He said she didn’t appreciate the past.
“I”m not a huge fan of the present either,” she said.
The shower ran. Lamb sat on the toilet, smoking and picking at her nail polish.
He said something from the other room.
They pulled up and piled out, eager to stand, to stretch, to smell and to see. They emptied the trunk, moving bags, coolers, and pillows over the damp soil, into the cabin that smelled of mothballs and mold, a dead trapped air. Beer cans cracked open, swimsuits slipped in to, and they hurried down to the beach. Later, they built a fire, sap crackling in the logs, and stared at stars, wondrous.
The emptiness they all felt, bottomless and dark, but couldn’t translate, couldn’t move past their lips. But they knew, their wide eyes told, the others felt the same.
William Turner’s dog died three months after his wife. Some kind of cancer snuck up on it. She’d died in a car accident coming to pick him up from the airport. He waited there for hours, first irritated then furious at her for being late.
He thought about selling the house, about taking his sister on that trip to Ireland she’d always talked about, about doing nothing but sitting in his chair, smoking inside, and staring out through the front window.
It’d snowed during the night. He thought it was still too early, too warm, for that, but it stayed.
The sailor and the nun walked along the beach. She’d taken off her shoes and cradled against her left side, while her right hand held a handful of habit, so it wouldn’t drag through the sand. He wore his full dress whites.
Out on the water, the masts of the sinking ship were barely silhouetted by the low full moon.
Out of breath, soaked, but ashore and thrilled to find themselves alive, they grabbed for each other and kissed deeply. The salt water, seconds ago a danger, tasted sweet on their lips.
They disconnected slowly, embarrassed, their hearts beating fast.
“Come on, get up. I’ll buy you breakfast.”
Coyote stood up and walked across the bedroom, leaning in the door frame. His cousin rose reluctantly, an eternity before he got out of bed. When Coyote heard the shower running, he puffed his cheeks and exhaled.
Drapes closed tight, little temples of torn pictures and letters, clothes thrown everywhere, ashtrays piled high, and enough bottles to double the stained glass windows of St. Anthony’s. He’d arrived fifteen minutes after getting the call, expecting the worst. They’d moved through most of that, and he hoped bacon and eggs would do the rest.
(900th post here. Pretty neat.)
Bull liked to hoot and holler and earn an easy dollar. He followed the train tracks across the country, stopping in each city, town or hamlet, looking for adventure. They run him out of most, but welcomed him with open arms the next time he came through.
He fought and gambled, shoed horses, caught outlaws, robbed stagecoaches, tilled fields, picked apples, onions, potatoes, and tobacco. He sang for pennies and danced for dimes. When people heard the train coming, they readied themselves, steadied for his arrival. But even prepared he swept through upsetting most things and settling some others down.
The skeletons danced round the oak tree in the middle of the village. The low, full moon casting long, jaunty shadows down the streets and against the clustered together buildings.
The townsfolk hid in their houses, the bravest among them watching the yearly ritual by squinting through shutters, and keeping the index and middle fingers on their right hands crossed, and over their hearts.
The leaves changed, from green to orange to brown. Then fell. Fluttering to the ground, and crushed under bony feet. Until the last, when the macabre waltz suddenly ended. The skeletons bowed and curtsied and disappeared.
This was a crummy motel room.
He sat on the middle of the bed, the blankets pulled up over and wrapped around, so that only his face was exposed, watching some cop movie. Earlier that day, he’d stood up at work, and walked out, thinking about getting a coffee.
Instead he got in his car and started driving. Unthinking, he drove nightfall and then pulled in to a truck stop to get something to eat. He finished his dinner and asked the waitress if there was anywhere he could spend the night. She pointed across the highway.
To this motel.
They’d been driving for an hour. He wasn’t convinced his eyes would open if he blinked. She ignored her ringing phone, eventually tossing it in the backseat.
They’d spent the weekend at her parents. When the argument started just after dinner, he slipped out for a smoke and bumped into her brother, who invited him into the garage to have a couple beer. Early the next morning, they left. Her parents still in pyjamas, stirring that powder into their coffee at the kitchen table.
They stopped at a flea market set up along the highway, hoping to find a lamp.
Hare’s uncle stood up from the table he’d been sat at immobile all morning and declared that the day was much too beautiful to waste in a dimly lit dining room, surrounded by all his dead relative’s platters, china and silverware.
“I’m going for a walk. Have the world roll beneath my feet,” he said. “Let your mother know.”
She’d gone off to work. After driving all night to bring his uncle back from somewhere she only whispered if Hare was around. Years later, lying awake, Hare would wonder if he shouldn’t have gone after him instead of watching cartoons.