NOTES FROM THE BASEMENT FILES
When I pass the oven at certain times of day, like 3:50, I wonder if I’m heating something. The numbers cease to be clock or temperature reading–just indeterminate. I must pause, open the door, and feel for heat. Then 3:51 hits and it becomes a clock again.
A shirtless neighbor is cutting a fat log and the chainsaw idles for a moment before whining back to life in the speed/load varying way of the dentist drill and I can’t think of anything I’d rather not hear. Sure the sounds of work should inspire admiration in me but they don’t. I tried to be happy about waiting at the train crossing as the slow train picking up modular furniture from the modular furniture factory in town jockeyed back and forth into pick-up position because it meant people were working and working people somewhere else were buying the crap. I never mastered that sentiment. I just tried to. I am too comfortable with my natural impatience that leads quickly to anger. Now the factory is closed and the train gone and it looks like my neighbor has given up work for the moment and all is peaceful. In my perfect world no one works loudly. We all quietly pick weeds and write thoughts and drink while looking skyward.
Truth is found in the very small and very large. Confusion lies in the middle.
Two boys about 8 and 10, one dragging a grocery bag half full of jagged edges, loudly approach the next house. They use the entire width of the sidewalk and beyond, making lightning incursions into the grass and mulch, serpent walking, never two steps in a straight line. They shove and insult each other as they walk up the steps to the door. The older hangs back. The younger opens the storm door like he is breaking in, and sharply slams the knocker five times. metal on metal like firecrackers. When the door is opened, he looks at the white shirt pocket of the homeowner and says, “you wanna buy some books?” after a pause, he adds, “adult books, kids books.” His eyes focus on his foot. The older is already looking off into the yard. “We’re getting some money for our mother.” His expression is defiant, almost angry as if he’s denying a crime rather than selling a book. He hears the no, turns around, and when he reaches his friend, the wild swagger continues to the next house and they swear.
My mind is a dove’s head, switching back and forth.
Some people leave such a lasting image in childhood that it is impossible for me to look past it when I meet them as an adult. For me, it’s as if they hold a photo of their young self over their face. It takes quite an incident for that to happen. X did that for me when we were in second grade and he chased us around the playground with a milk carton he had pooped in.
I see him around town and I see him pooping in a milk carton. There’s no getting over that.
Word of the Week:
Hypnogogic: relating to the state immediately before falling asleep.