Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Never Not Near

There is a pile of ripped up paper by his feet. Bits of popcorn that doesn't make his mouth dot the perimeter of the pile. His companion looks back towards the road they took in and squints to read the sign. His elbow brushes her arm.
Ralph keeps staring forward.
"Why not the favorite Ralph? Why these long shots? Why do you do it to yourself? Just go with them. Ralph, go with the winner. Go with the winner."

She pulls out the chair at the short table and asks to change the channel on the television to her right.
"You can't smoke in here."
She removes the cigarette from her lips and flips open her wallet. Her fingers graze the ends of dirty bills while she counts backwards in her head.
"Six Seventy-Two please."

Ralph wrings his hands then flattens his shirt against his bulging gut. He pulls a paper from his pocket and blows it a kiss.

"Go with the winner."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Salad Days

We spent all day in the car. I haven't driven like that in ten years. We checked landmarks and empty buildings off a list of places that shaped us. You pointed to an exit that you just drive past now. I stole drags from your cigarette. I made sure to hold it in as long as possible. And to graze your fingers in the exchange.

I kept my window closed. The smoke sat in front of my eyes and the headlights bloomed. You sang along with a girl younger than you but knew your pain. Somewhere down the road I sat.

I watched us pass by, a blinking of eyes and swirl of tongues.  I counted stripes to see how fast we went.

We passed a plastic bottle of lemonade that had turned sour from the heat. It only amplified the booze we got that morning.

I never wonder how I got here.

You told a story of your mom and her patron saint. Of her knickknacks and charms. Of her rituals and spaces. And how you find yourself slipping in. And for all your flailing you just sink deeper. And maybe you should just swim. Or maybe you should just stop.

I count your breaths and think of gardens I read about and gardens I've seen. I name boats after the children I'll never have. And breathe life into plans I'll forget in the morning.

I could apologize for the world. I could board up the windows and doors and let it all go. I could make a list of names that never meant anything to me.

I never wonder how I got here.