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98

15 Feb

He was playing solitaire.
Every now and then he would look up.
“Where are we?”
He looked bewildered.
“We’re on the highway somewhere.”
We saw a cat run across the road.
His hair was dishevelled.
He looked like an old cat.
His cap was on the seat between us.
It was a bench seat.

99

24 Dec

He was sure he had seen the man, but he wasn’t sure where, in what incarnation, on what level. The silver-grey smell of mist overwhelmed him. He watched it sift away, the black pants of the moment, the backs of the knees unfolding into the future.

100

24 Dec

Sometimes you tell stories by the dozen. Short ones. Stories that lead nowhere. End in midair. Over some dark chasm you aren’t ready to face. All along, you are looking for a story. In between, you are making lunch. Going to the store. In the midst of it all, you are trying to locate a story. Maybe in the lunch itself. Or in the coffee you are drinking. It’s hard to say. A story won’t just slap itself together. You can’t make a story grow any faster. You can’t fertilize a story the way you can a plant.

101

7 Dec

Melissa had this way of standing. Her weight on one foot. Looking at the air beside her. She did this now. Then looked at me. She was thin as a wisp. A child. Beautiful. Her motion. The angle she maintained above the ground. Her grace. She cried. This is what I had not expected. Never in my life. I had not seen this coming. Not any of it. I sat Melissa down in my extra chair that I keep in my cubicle. I asked her if I could get her anything. She cried. Ran the back of her hand over her eyes. I opened a drawer in my desk. I’d put some Kleenex in there a long time ago. I tried to get it out. I pulled out CDs. Some tape. A stapler. A chocolate bar. An empty aspirin bottle. Melissa laughed. I finally got the Kleenex. Held out the box to her.

102

7 Dec

Finally, the goddamn cat went to the end of the bed. Lay down by my feet. Purred. The thing loved feet. It especially loved Jack’s feet. Jack used his toes to scratch the thing’s neck. With the heater blowing, it was nice having that warm cat purring against the calf of my leg. It turned its old head. Looked at me through the slits of its eyes.

103

1 Dec

Coleen once told Colin: If you were to take the words you say to me in the evening when we come home from work and carve them on a stick and then hang that stick in the air above your bed at night while you slept and then when you woke next morning you took that stick with you downstairs to stir your coffee with and you brought the stick to work with you and used it for other purposes and you took it with you on your walk at lunch and used it for a walking stick and then you returned to work with it a different man again today and brought it to the bathroom with you and set it in the corner while you washed your hands then left it there forgotten, that would be okay. Coleen also believed that there are different rules for the different parts of the face.

104

18 Oct

Bertrand was gone. He left. He stayed long enough to kiss June on the cheek. If you change your mind, call. Don’t be a stranger. Can’t we still be friends? Bertrand didn’t come back. He went away hurting. Like he’d been shot. But he gave it his best shot, and what more can a man do? He might not simply have kissed her. He might have taken her to bed. He might have fallen to the floor. Clasped her knees. Begged. Instead, he went home. Got in bed. Pulled the covers up. To his chin. He didn’t sleep too well. He took some pills. On the third night, he was just too exhausted to see the bright side. Only the dark underside. He wondered, had June been right? The thing about escaping. His dad. The premise on which he based everything. He felt he could not consider the possibility that he had been wrong, since it would nullify his entire existence. At least he had his classical guitar training. But was that enough?