Let’s talk about the moon, Eli. There are the phases, wax and wane. We sit on the highest hill in town and watch the airplanes.
Ever wish one would crash, I ask.
You got a weird head, Maloney.
No souls lost, Eli, just something to break the silence.
Listen to the words coming out of your mouth, you say.
A bloom of smoke and fire and everyone lives. What a beautiful thing.
You need to go to church, Maloney.
I am church, I say.
Finger is doing jumping jacks on the dock. His health is better and he’s eating meat again.
I even started smoking, Maloney.
It makes you tough.
Those things will kill, I say.
All the good people smoke, says Finger. Puts you in touch with death.
I’m in touch with death, I say. It’s life I can’t get together.
I’m at the Starlight watching Darling pour hot coffee with her perfect pitching arm. She comes over and says there’s a call for me. It’s Tuesday on the line.
I’m in Bhutan seeking the light, she says. How is Eli?
He is fast on his way to becoming a chess master. Next week we go to the big tournament.
I sent him a wisdom prayer.
Do you pray for me?
It was good to talk to you, she says. Goodbye.
St. Williams is tied to the stake, strangled and burned. He coined the phrase Give up the ghost.
Eli, do you feel alive?
Most of the time.
What about now?
I would say yes. And you?
Can’t rightly say.
This is what passes for conversation here on the boat.
Eli, you’re in the chess club destroying the journeymen. Lots of old wood in this place and paintings that follow you with their eyes. There are some masters here sizing you up. You win one pretty easily but the next one sneaks up on you. Nono is coming to all your chess matches. The tournaments and exhibitions, even park games. She is a small lady with a wild smile. I see her talking to you as I collect your winnings.
What did she want, I ask.
Don’t like her moving in on our arrangement.
She’s got something, you say. Something unadulterated about her.
Finger is fishing off the boat. He is living with the weather and sun. He’s turned away from his freegan principles.
I’ve forgotten how wonderful money is.
You can be happy without it, Finger.
With cash and a large truck, some diversified assets, a nice little nest egg, I could be happy.
Eli, the couple in my office are the worst parents in the world. They have three children ages one, two, and three. Both are out of work and he wears his boots tucked into his jeans. She wears Playboy bunny pajama pants. She tells me how she dropped two of the babies down some stairs and one is seriously damaged. That’s what she says, Eli. Seriously damaged.
In the Starlight, Darling is sweet to me. She serves a man in a neck brace blueberry ice cream. Her hair is cut short for the summer like a French New Wave movie star.
Your legs are graceful, I say.
You have the best kind of eyes.
I want to take you somewhere.
I want to go somewhere.
But we don’t move.
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