Saturday, June 27, 2009


And of course the preparations had to be made posthaste and without delay not a second being wasted. The news would be out soon. No time for mourning, because mourning can last forever (and then some) and even as you fetch the cereal from the dusty lower shelf of the pantry and sit slicing the bananas into the bowl in the breakfast nook there can be mourning. But not now no time the major media outlets must be notified.

They would undoubtedly want to know of his accomplishments. The magazines would need to make their charts and miscellaneographies and the papers would need the facts to back up newsprint tepidities like beloved and haunted and quintessential something or other.

I began to compile a list.

Runner-up in the Pine Wood Derby. First kiss eighth grade Elena Williamson. 36” Northern on Red Lake. Buffalo nickel which he found on the day he met his wife he kept for three years. Always kept a neat and orderly dressertop. Youngest branch supervisor in seven years. A family man. Drank only on the weekends. Stole packet of Bubble-Yum only once, as a child, and promptly returned it as a matter of conscience. Blue-eyed smile impossible to evade even on worst of days. Coached boys swim, 4 straight state championships.

The media was on it right away. Were at the house before I could finish my list. People from all around, that we never knew. The softball questions were loudest and the darker ones whispers but would remain so. Brianna knew us as old friends.

People gathered from all around, whom we didn’t know, around a house that was not his. One boy carved a star into the sidewalk of the cul-de-sac. Microphones everywhere and on such a springtime afternoon with perhaps 4 clouds in sight and the innocuous fluffy sort besides incongruities on all sides. But this was not a time for mourning because there were preparations to be made. There were stories to be told, but which? They all make money when the vultures come to feed.

Goose turned to Brianna, and said Quite frankly, he may be worth more dead than alive.

Yes. This is all he wanted I think, to be loved like he was newly dead.

There was a strange inelasticity in her voice final like sadness and I frowned. It was not the time for mourning. It was not the time for folding laundry, a red shirt in the basement that you know is not yours, or the big soft bed that is too big now.

In the street now the people were dancing. People who had already forgotten what they were dancing for, just happy for a reason.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monkey Bars

The bars were breathing so that they would take me in and wrap around my head and not in and out like a bullfrog but warty like one, yes, and bubbling. “So that,” as if with a purpose.

You hear bars and you think…a prison a drunkard a lawyer a crow. But it is none of those things. It is a child’s playground. There are bars, yes, to climb and to disengage and there are chutes, which are my favorite. Because for every several little Tom and Sally that climbs the rungs behind it greased with the sweat and sand and spittle and bloodtrickles of children’s play there is the boy, unnamed, who will climb that chute until it is a chute no longer and then that little boy is the owner of his language, which is to own the world. Once he figures to climb the other tra-la-las will join him in laughter until the grown-up says to get down, to stop before anyone gets hurt.

And what do you know! Then the pridehurt little king will go and climb higher than usual on the bars, he will yank redfaced up until his thin smooth elbows are resting on the top rung and just his face peeks over like the red sun at day’s end but it is not setting it is rising, slowly, or is the whole world dropping below him like the handle on a dynamite plunger? And slowly still ruddy in the face with exertion he rises and the shoulders blossom and arms straighten and then the knees. First knee on the top rung and the second. And then with a chemist’s precision he will place the kneecaps on the subsequent rung, ankles hooking the one behind, and he will reach forward pushing himself up from the one that is further still. And the first points down will be the last to come off, and the last will be the first. The hands let go, and he is leaning back and kneeling, arms outstretched but he is higher than the rest hears none of the shouting knows in his own way that he is underneath no one but God.

Then the tottering upright, the hands are down again sliding backwards towards the ladder, stiffening first the legs and letting go then with the hands until the boy is upright like the First Man. And oh! How he walks on those bars that so many have swung between below like animals and ignores the shouts and the fear that holds him like quicksand and gravity. The blissful unknowing of this the greatest accomplishment in his life is what makes it greatest and the falling will not matter or the breaking bones or the hospital or the painful nights waiting up and the therapy and wheelchairs and nurses, because it is all in the future, as is the applause from his young peers and the scolding of his parents, that to a young heart is the greatest of praises at his defiance. It is all the future and is all mist and legend and the glory and the fear intermingling create a dizzying stew of potentiality.

And this story is in these bars, a whole book of them in fact which I may or may not write. And one bar! The joy I feel at stories, the best of which are never lies.