The color of it moved something in him long forgotten. Make a list. Recite a litany. Remember...
...Where you've nothing else, construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
This whole rhapsody, better go capture this moment
And hope it don't collapse on him...
- Eminem, "Lose Yourself"
I'm walking away from my credit union toward Fred Meyer. I have just failed to be able to use one of my new credit cards to get a cash advance so I can deposit it in my son's California bank account so he can pay his rent. He can't pay his rent because he is a writer living in Los Angeles who works every day for chump change, and in America, 2009, "Writer who works every day for chump change" is a redundancy. My mind is nothing but run-on sentences, bad practice for a writer.
I am barely on the planet. I'm calculating how to get the six hundred bucks my son needs. My new book is eating up what's left of my brain. I'm crossing to Fred Meyer when I see the two guys walking toward me.
Abruptly we are all in a movie. Coen Brothers. And, we are in pure reality. The first man greets me. The second man shuffles by. He looks at the ground. I smell eighteen-hour old screw-top port. I remember how it feels to want to take your head from your body and let it rest somewhere till the fumes have cleared.
They pass me in less than a minute. I wait till they are out of ear-shot, open my cell phone, call my home number and leave a message.
Later in the afternoon, my brain still sand-papering itself, I slog up Pilot Butte. It doesn't help. I descend and buy a couple newspapers, with the long cherished and long disproven theory that reading them will help me unwind. My son calls. He tells me he has held the landlord at bay. "I'll have the new pin number by Monday,"I say. "You won't have to sell the farm."
It is sweet cool blue by the time I drive up to my little house. I try to have a deep thought about the nature of the ephemeral and am too cranky to generate Thich Nat Whatever bliss. I do manage a thought about how lucky I am to not have cancer or a pack of grand-kids I have to raise.
The front room is gloomy except for the red 1 flashing on the answering machine. I put away the groceries, start the skillet heating for a quesadilla, check my e-mail for fabulous news from an editor, a publisher, even THE ex-voodoo man. There are messages from Moveon, Common Dreams and The Wilderness Society.
I take tortillas and cheese out of the fridge and remember the message light on the phone machine. He's called. He's finally faced that he'll never find another woman like me and he's called. "Hey girl," he'll say, "I was wrong. And, by the way, I figured out exactly how many hours you worked with me on my writing and I'm sending you a check for $10,000."
Or it'll be those nice McArthur people with the grant I so deserve.
I hit Play. The message is more than I could have wished for. I hear a woman's voice. She is laughing. She sounds like me. She says:
I was walking toward Fred Meyer a few minutes ago. Two guys walked toward me. The first one carried a little old-fashioned suitcase. The second one carried a bad case of, "Oh s..t, I wish I hadn't had that last pint." I remembered how that feels.
The first guy waved the suitcase high in the air. He grinned. His smile was that of a monk or a drunk. I grinned back.
He shook the suitcase and hollered with pure joy, "We're goin' to L. A.!!!"
"Yeahhhhh!" I yelled, but they were already past me.
I didn't turn to watch them on their way. I didn't doubt the guy. They were, after all, heading south on Third. And, the rhapsody had begun - again.
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