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Itís warm. It seems that way. It may just be the heat seeping through my electric lap blanket. It may be the hoodie Iím wearing. I can close my eyes and drift off on the warmth. That would be good. I remember someone saying that. ďThat would be good.Ē I have nothing else to explain. Nothing to go on about. I should call my mother. I could call my mother. It would be like her to go on about things for a while. That would be one word were it an adverb. It happened a while ago. No, Iím wrong.
I tried to call my mother. She didnít answer the phone. Maybe she knew I had the laptop open and was planning to transcribe everything she said. Itís the kind of thing Iíd do. Itís warm. It seems that way. It may just be the heat seeping through my electric lap blanket. It may be that Iím embarrassed. That would be good. I lace my fingers together and feel them passing through one another, hand linked with hand. I feel the soft skin and the resistance of the bones. I rub my toes together. They are always cold it seems.
Well there were other things I had planned to do. I have, of course, forgotten what they were. I could remember if I tried. All I would have to do is start typing them out and they would come back to me one by one. Sometimes I seem to have a good memory. Sometimes I seem to have no memory at all. There are whole blocks of time that I seem to have lost. I try to find my way through them and I cannot. Even places. I cannot drive to my old work places. I simply cannot find them.
I am sleepy again. Maybe I need more exercise. Yes, that was one of the things I was going to do today, that and play the piano, and paperwork, and make the chili, and write some 100 words. I was also going to go to the doctor. The neurologist. No. The psychiatrist. I get them confused, but they confuse one another and I am slowly being passed from the one to the other. I am being transferred from the psychiatrist to the neurologist. The psychiatry drugs are going away. The neurology drugs are in place. Thereís not so much difference.
I had a little bit of an interruption. We went to the grocery store to buy stuff to make chili. It was not the grand trip to the supermarket, but a quick trip to the small market. We reasoned we really didnít have time for the grand trip. You reasoned that I was not doing well. I thought I was well enough. It is hard to tell sometimes. I checked my lottery tickets at the market. The results were not in yet for the one ticket. The other was a $4 winner. I put the tickets back in my wallet.
I cried at my fatherís funeral. It was a short cry. I just lost it for a moment and then I was ok for the rest of the time. Charlie, my nephew was there and hugged me. I wonder if Charlie will cry at his fatherís funeral and whether I will be there to hug him. I remember my father crying when his father died. He sat on a white wooden chair in the kitchen and cried, my mother not knowing quite what to do about it. It was unusual for my father to cry. It was not for me.
It must be a beaver dam, such a heap of sticks and mud. I should be careful crossing this field as there may be deep water hidden beneath this dead grass. The beaver dam inhales and exhales. With every breath it rises and expands. When it exhales, it resumes its original shape and size. I am taken by a piece of grass stuck to one side. I walk closer. Yes, I should be careful, but this piece of grass is interesting. The sun hangs harsh in the sky, dimmed by the overcast. I reach out for the piece of grass.
Iím out walking under the harsh sky. The sun tries to burn a hole in the haze but it cannot. The houses are cramped little things shoved up against the railroad tracks. It is a seeping muddy landscape like spring, but it is not spring yet. This will all soon be glazed with ice again. It will be covered with snow. I will get my shoes dirty out here. The wind picks up and I can feel its chill through my coat. The street is empty. What can you say about a cold, empty, and dirty street? It mirrors life?
Alright, I said it was bleak out there. A chime paddle twists in the wind dangling beneath the swaying bars. It must be making empty music out there. A charm to ward off something evil. That was my understanding, yet I cannot remember what evil it was meant to ward off. What evil could possibly be out there? Havenít we cleansed and sanitized it enough that nothing can possibly live out there? Yet there is still room for our greatest fear: that which preys on us. It could live and flourish in this environment. That is why we stay indoors.
The screaming goes on in my head as you quietly move the boxes below. The sky is grey mixed with mottled patches of gray. A bird takes flight between two scraggly trees. Three deer walk down the rail road. They come one at a time, cautiously. I wonder how they stay warm. I wonder how the scream does not escape my throat. Two young men walk down the street. Suddenly they take off running. Such energy? Where does it come from? Where has mine gone? I can barely move sometimes, let alone run. I yawn and shift in my chair.
I wonít be able to stay here much longer. Something wonít let me. It will drive me to the shower, into clothes and up and about to do useful things. As if this were not useful. Itís not useful. It is useful. I am of two minds about this thing and it occurs to me that I have done too much with it. I have done too little. I have climbed the white pines outside my motherís house and carved poems into their trunks. Will that buy me a little immortality? No. Nothing lasts forever. Not you. Not me. Nothing.
I wake from a dream of damp leaves and dark soil. My bones are sleeping peacefully here, not in some city cemetery in coffins in stone vaults shoved up one against another. Here I am dirty, seeping into the soil, becoming trees and bugs. Here I enter a worm and crawl through the earth. I can hear the rain hitting the leaves, tree trunks, and the ground. There will be another human being here maybe once a century, and so I sleep, the deep drunken sleep of the happy pilgrim. I slowly wring my hands. A little finger falls off.
I struggle with a muddy leather man. I am not strong enough for this but I have no choice. He wants to drown me in the mud, or kill me some other way if he can. He folds me into a stiff embrace and forces me down, down where I cannot breathe. My hands are grasping for air, but instead they come to a pistol fastened to his belt. It is a clip of sorts and comes loose quickly. It feels like a semi-automatic. I wonder if a round is chambered. Probably not. I pull the trigger. I climb out.
He lay on the grass with his head up against the tree. Maybe he laid on the grass. Some of these things are more difficult than they need to be. Anyway, the grass was green and the edges of the grass blades were stiff and sharp. They would cut him if he moved the wrong way. It wouldnít be a bad cut, but a cut it would be nevertheless. The bark on the tree was rough against his head, in a soft, friendly way, like leather. He was not really in a comfortable position, but stayed where he was anyway.
He lay on the grass with his head up against the leather tree. The grass was green and the sun was warm. Members of his tribe used the bark from the leather tree to make things. When wet, it could be pressed and formed into a leather-like material that was lighter than leather and had the flexibility of the best-worked leather. Hence it was simply called the leather tree. The leather tree only grew as far south as the snow would get a foot or so deep in the winter. No one knew why. Someday they would know this thing.
I wonder if I should write that thing or not. There are those who would say that of course I should write that. I should write that whatever it is. But that is not so. I have learned that is not so. There are so many things I should not write, cannot write, could not even bring my fingers to form the letters. Or I could write the other thing, but that might be not allowed as well and not my brain is such a squirming pot of worms that I have no idea what to write. Nothing is safe.
The snow piles against the house. I worry about it piling up against the furnace vent. Where is the furnace vent anyway? Some piece of tin stuck on a piece of vinyl out there. Iíve read that all you need to break into a new house is an eight-inch knife. Just stab it through the side of the house and cut yourself a hole between the studs. Walk through. No locksmith is needed. Probably not so very fireproof. My father had the right idea when he made his house out of concrete blocks with sloping faces to look like siding.
The sun was pouring through the walkout downstairs. It made little shadows on the cracks on the floor. I was coming down the half flight of stairs there. I was probably coming down to dump a load of laundry. Yes, I was coming down to dump a load of towels in the washer. But first I had to move a load of clothes from the washer to the dryer. It was the kidsí clothes. Usually they were pretty good about not leaving stuff in the machine. But this time both the washer and dryer were full. I paused a moment.
I think my favorite picture of my father was one of him sitting up against a tree. I think he was in Pennsylvania. He was wearing his red wool hunting suit and holding his 30-30 across his lap. I think it was the same gun he finally got his bear with. So much shooting and killing. I pause to stroke my fingers. The skin is thin because I stroke them so much. I have that 30-30 upstairs. A Marlin lever action modified to hold only three shots. It cut down on the weight. I pause to stroke my fingers again.
I put my headphones on. My head floats back a half inch or so and my eyes close. I am enclosed in a new space. Taking a breath, I fill my lungs with cold air. A steep hill of snow extends over to my right, dotted with trees. I am skiing down the hill, dodging the trees, feeling the skis bite into the snow and bounce over the ice. My right leg is a shock absorber, holding the ski down against the snow. I will have to shift my weight and turn at the bottom so I can stop there.
It was cold in the garage, a hard metal raw engine block kind of cold. The light was dim but his eyes adjusted after a while. He wondered if he would be better off outside, but he knew that couldnít be true. He gingerly tried the car door, anticipating the alarm, but it was locked. The alarm didnít go off. There was a tool chest. He could get the car open with tools. Hell he could get into the house with tools, but the likelihood of getting caught was much greater. Maybe he wanted to get caught, just get warm.
It was better now. The pain in his head had reduced itself to a small stripe running across the left side of his head and then, oddly, down the left side of his neck. But he could think again. He could breathe again. He had read once that if you held your breath long enough you would pass out and start breathing. He wondered if that applied to not being able to breathe during a headache. He supposed it determined whether he was holding his breath intentionally or not. There was a way to think about this, he was sure.
He could feel the waves of sleepy wash over him. It was the meds, he was sure of it, and what he was unsure of was whether he needed the meds or not. Yet his doctor seemed reluctant to take away the meds. It didnít make sense. He couldnít remember what the meds were for in the first place. They didnít seem to help. Maybe he would be much worse without them and just couldnít remember what that was like. Maybe, and most likely he was just sleepy and wasnít thinking very clearly. Perhaps he could allow a little nap.
I couldnít remember where the thing was at. I usually kept it in the hallway umbrella stand, but it wasnít there. I know that was a poor place to keep such a valuable thing what with people coming in and out and anybody passing by could have just picked it up and walked off with it. And thereís no telling what they would have done with it had they figured out how it worked. I remember when I first found it myself. I didnít know what it was. To tell the truth I still donít know exactly what it is.
I found it in the corn field out back. What was I doing out in Morrisonís corn field? Now thatís a good question. Itís not proper for a body to go tramping in another manís corn field unless he has permission. You see in the summer folks park their car along the road and go off into the field to pick corn, bringing bags of it back to the car. Thatís nothing but thievery if you ask me. And itís not as if the corn is any good for eating. The idiots donít know itís just field corn theyíre stealing.
Itís odd how your brain goes on sometime, jumping from one thing to another. Right now itís raining and freezing all over everything. Itís just going to be a mess and when the cars get out on the road itíll be even worse. Iíve seen that ice coat things to where you had to break it off. When it gets like that thereís no driving on those roads. Best stay off them. Everybody stays home. The kids are all outta school. The only one out is Molly and she has to with her job. Sheís out visiting the old people.
It was a day like that when I found that thing. The ice was like a thick coat of glass on everything. If it hadnít been for the ice, the corn field would have been muddy, but it was just crunchy and icy. I had to be careful not to fall down. I was taking some garbage out to the corn field. There used to be a fence between me and the corn field and Iíd have to toss the garbage over the fence. Iíve got a garbage disposal but you donít know what you can put in those things.
The neighbor was over knocking on the door. I asked him if he wanted some soup. He said no, he had just had some pancakes. He was wanting to know if he could go visit Fred. Fred has been sick with something. He doesnít do anything but lie in bed and get up and sit in that chair. Then at night he goes back to the bed. That just isnít like him. That man never sits still. Heís been to the doctor a couple of times and they say heís got some kind of deep chest infection. Doesnít sound good.
The kids havenít caught it yet. They know to stay away from Fred because heís grumpy. Heís never grumpy. I baked up two dozen cupcakes. Twenty-four of the best cupcakes Iíd ever baked. I took them over there and set them on the counter with a note that said they were to go to the nursing home. That woman is over there in the nursing home hollering, ďWhereís Fred?Ē ďWhereís Fred?Ē Thatís all she says. Fredís sick. He probably caught it over there. You can catch almost anything in those places. Anyway the cupcakes disappeared. Nobody knew where they went.
Snow rushes past the window, piling higher against the walls. It is already chest deep in the fields. No chance of going anywhere in that without snowshoes. I could make a pair of snowshoes. I could use my tennis racquet for one. What can I do about the other? How about the snack table top? Ok, how to fasten these things to my feet? Duct tape? What if I got out there and the bindings failed? I would be stuck in chest deep snow. Best to not trust the duct tape. Ah, I see now. electrical cords. I use wire.
I was coughing. I have been coughing for over a week now. It has let up some but it is damn inconvenient. The fat cells stick together causing further shutdowns of associated systems. Theyíve collecting as many of them as they can and storing them in armories across the country. If I had it to do over again I wouldnít have a vice president. They are nothing but trouble and just another opportunity for your enemies to rally around you. As I said I was coughing. I think I can quit now. Itís damn inconvenient. I suppose I should explain.
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