Goat laid in the lake. Head to the shore, feet pointing out toward the middle, back against the ridged sandy bottom. Submerged, except for his nose and mouth. A small sunburnt island jutting above the surface.
He spent the whole of the afternoon there, finally sitting up, when the sun started to drop behind the thick copse of pines to his left. Toweled off, and changed, he set about carrying logs from the cottage to the beach. Set them in the sand and split them with his hatchet.
He poked at the coal, watched embers rise to join the stars.
Kearns turned in the backseat and watched the city disappear through the rear window.
Miller drove, following the speed limit, while Carpenter turned the radio dial, to see if the news had picked up the robbery yet. They turned left, heading for the freeway.
Twenty minutes later, they pulled in and drove to the rear lot of a service station. They exited the car, stretching their tense legs. A fourth man exited the idling jeep beside them, and helped transfer the heavy sacks from the car.
Two minutes later, the four men drove slowly over a rutted, overgrown forest road.
Yeah, I`m with the band. Since before the beginning. No. I don’t play anything. Not an instrument anyway. Don’t have the rhythm. I do other things. Things the band needs done. The boys want something, I find it. They want to go somewhere, I get them in. Someone gets too chummy, I take of them. What do you mean, how? How do you think, genius? I give them a good talking-to? Not these guys. They don’t listen to nothing. So I take them outside and kick the shit out of them.
They don’t bother the band no more after that.
They pulled up the streets, carrying chunks of asphalt and concrete and tar, and piled them along the fronts of the apartment buildings. Some they set in waist high circles, mud as mortar, to gather the falling rain.
The truck arrived. Stopped at the intersecting street and dumped damp earth. They filled buckets and wheelbarrows and wagons. When they scraped the last of the dirt, another truck arrived.
They hoed and sowed. They watered and weeded and watched.
Doubt grew instead of potatoes and tomatoes. Instead of wheat and barley and corn. Until one day they saw a stalk sprout.
They boiled the seawater and separated the salt. Then they used the salt to build a staircase leading up away from the beach.
“But this isn’t permanent,” some said. “We’ll have to do it again.”
In the silence, the water lapped at the shore. A knot popped in a burning log. A gull circled above the group, crying out.
“That’s the point,” they answered.
“We should used the stones,” some said. “They won’t wash away in the rain. Our children will be able to walk along them for years.”
“But, to grow, they should make their own way,” they said.
Prompt courtesy of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge.
Bear let go of the lawnmower, watching it crawl forward a few feet and then stop. The crickets filled the sudden quiet. He wiped his forehead and looked up to the tree house in the maple. Bear realized he’d forgotten the thing existed. His kids hadn’t used it in years.
The board nailed to the tree’s trunk snapped when he put his weight on it, so Bear dragged his aluminum ladder from the garage.
Later that morning, he looked down and saw his wife looking around the yard. Bear thought about calling out to her, but then decided not to.
After my second beer, I realized I wasn’t going to shit myself. I stopped agonizing, and tried to enjoy the show. The feeling of relief lasted another half a beer, until a scrawny guy wearing a an immaculately preserved Stooges shirt, kerchief tight around his neck, sidled up next to me.
“Look at all these people,” he said. Trying to sneer, but only whining.
I’d pretended I hadn’t understood. I squinted, pointed at my, ear and shook my head. He ignored me.
“If you ask me, the band sold out three albums ago. I don’t even know why I’m here.”