We were roping stars the other night. Pulling them down, trying to stuff them in jars, harness the energy because the electric bill is too high. Seemed like a reasonable thing to do at the time but we went through a lot of rope and I think Jimmy-Joe is blind in one eye from it, he won’t let us look. Is that stereotyping? To give him a name like Jimmy-Joe? Like Frederick Carlton Emerson the Third would not be roping stars for possibly energy consumption? It’s because I put too much sugar in my coffee this morning. It’s because I forgot that I don’t drink coffee and drank coffee. I drink tea. Well, of course, I mean, there are those occasions when I want to celebrate the moments of my life with a cup of Café Vienna but really, they’ve done something to that and just like when they changed the formula for Coke and then said they changed it back, it’s really not the same anymore. But, sometimes, I pretend and drink it anyway.
So where was I, oh yeah, the economy. Well, it was all different when we were younger, you know? When we were going to live forever because really then it was about gas money to get to Santa Cruz and could we scrape together enough for a stack of pancakes to share at IHOP in the morning on the way back after taking our drunk chances sleeping on the beach, but in Capitola, because, you know, it was nicer. Now, now we’re roping stars and thinking that we should have found a place with a smaller backyard because we’ve finally admitted, we don’t want to garden.
I mean, it sounds good and I know how and if you can really get one going well it’s admirable to grow your own food, and probably smart, in this economy, but come on, it’s time to be honest. So, we were roping stars and Jimmy-Joe swears he had a bead on Venus but we told him, can’t do that, it’s a planet. He don’t listen. So he climbed up that telephone pole, that one that doesn’t have any wirers on it anymore but they left it there as a memorial because that Thompson girl hit it. Anyway, he gets all the way up and he’s got his lasso going, wavering around like a top about to fall over and he just quits. Looks up there for a moment, drops the rope down, climbs all the way to the bottom, says to us, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Went inside, pulled the covers over his head.
I said, from outside his door, “Jimmy-Joe, what did you see?”
And he said, totally mumbled from someplace way under there, “How small I am.”
That was it, you know? He didn’t get up the next day. Or the next. This morning, he took a shower and, I think, there’s some hope. You can’t think about it, ever. It will lay you out like yesterdays news on the front porch in the morning. Do they still deliver newspapers? We’d recycle them if they did, have to now. We recycle everything else because we care about our environment, and being able to afford to heat and cool it. So funny to be able to say it’s because we care about the planet, I love that. But can’t think about that either, because that’s how small we are too.
We thought, emptying the bottles, of some grown up Willy Wonka World, what if we could plant them and grow a beer tree? We were laughing but I think Wiley did it anyway, he keeps looking out the window every morning at that one corner of the yard. I know we buried the books in the other corner with a piece of red tape, danced around the fire to banish persecution and make new ideas grow.
I wanted to lay down then too. With Wiley, to feel his hand gently resting on my hip, but nothing more for then because really, to just be not moving. The cool sheets in a room lit with that strange light that doesn’t happen at one particular time of day but really only in certain moments and it’s quiet. Not backyard on the porch swing with a plain buzzing overhead quiet. Not two a.m. can hear the distant train whistle quiet. But kind of end of the world quiet, where for just that time, for some reason, there’s no sound at all. The light in the room then is that kind of light that they could make a fortune off of if they knew what to call it, how to package it. It makes the unmade bed look exactly like it is supposed to, it makes your feet feel clean even if they aren’t and your pillow perpetually the perfect temperature. It makes sleep easy but you don’t, it’s the light you lie there awake in, still.
But I can’t do it, you know? I can’t lay down in that light. They think the monsters are all in the dark. They think it’s all shadows, creaking floor boards, some far off howling at the moon, like any of that is even scary at all. I can’t lay down in that light because I’ll just stare at the wall. I mean, someone has to mail the rent check on exactly the right day so that it doesn’t bounce but isn’t really late either. Someone has to stretch the dog food just perfectly, and the laundry soap too.
Somewhere was the thought of not being able to live like this anymore but trying to remember how to climb back up the ladder and get over the wall was so strange. Like the ladder was a mystery, you know? Put your foot . . . where? The stars, we got three of them, well, three and a half. They fight back and that last one tore itself in two to keep part of itself to the sky. It was beautiful. Splintered light, dripping illumination, streaking trails of electric ever shine across the midnight and we could hear people making wishes in these weird whispers traveling on the wind. Everything got quiet for a minute then. I made my wishes and thought, we’ll be able to pay all these bills.
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