monkeyrobot's Diaryland Diary

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Masonic Street Parking Lot

L’heure Verte

We travel south, driving for a half an hour, studying yellow headlights that dust over unplanted tobacco fields and following the progression to corn. As the double lines are whittled down to just paved road, I wait to see another set of headlights pass us. Tenitively an opossum lifts a pink nose, winks like a flash bulb from the roadside and skulks out of our radiance. We land the bridge and while the rest of the travelers look for dim colors moving on the river below, I search for a lamplight fluttering from the Skinner House.

But no one sleeps on the mountain.

Entering the city alone, and a hand turns the radio volume down.

I don’t know where we were going, and I don’t ask. I hear the warm tires revolve as we pass under the only traffic light in town. The boy driving the car raises two fingers and points to the signal as we move through it’s red. There is a right-handed turn onto Masonic Street, and a slow descent into the parking lot. The boy behind the wheel shuts off the headlights, noses up against a chain link fence, stops and killed the ignition.

No one makes an attempt to exit the Buick. We sit with all the car windows rolled down listening to the cooling engine tick out a pitch that retires further and further away.

The woman in the passenger’s seat puts both feet on the dash board. The boy in the driver’s seat touches flame to a smoke, speaking to the night, wishing out loud for an ounce of something better, and then spits on the pavement to seal it.

His words break the silence.

Whispers and static are laid down from the radio, and beside me Rose pulls her hands from the insides of her jacket.

They are the hands of someone nervous.

She begins to give counsel to the woman in the passengers seat. I listen to the horse in her voice, and watch the wish-maker tap and scatter cigarette ash nowhere.

Rose speaks to the woman in the front seat, not a flicker of expression disturbing her features. Her fingers touch the insides of each palm, assuring each hand that it is still there.

“Tell me who you are?”

Rose says this twice, in a ragged, sincere voice. I watch the driver tap his cigarette against the side-view mirror. Cinders hang and dither under the streetlight for the few moments before I close my eyes, and then maybe after my head drifts onto your lap.

Rose’s left-handed fingers follow the line of my ear absently, and I hear the gravel that her voice rolls over. I listen to the rough of her voice and for the first time in a year I smell the sodden earth.

I don’t open my eyes, as your fingers trace letters in the scrub of my hair.

There is a joyless break in Rose’s counsel. From the backseat, eyes closed, my voice warm in cadence. I ask the wish-maker to tell us again what it was he saw today.

Clearing his throat, he speaks and we abandon our situation for a moment.

We listened to his words.

It was a scattering of boys, one held a broken broom handle, he was not the biggest boy, and the others, and they all carried sticks. They were all about eleven or twelve and out of breath. One was without a shirt, he seemed like he was the leader, and then they met up with some other boys, boys without sticks. The boy without a shirt raised his broken broom handle and shouted to the boys without sticks.”

He said, “We beat that fucker down.”

Rose’s hand rested on the back of my neck, and I could smell the ground thawing.

I say quietly to her, “He said pounded the first time.”

She moves her hand over my mouth, and I listen to the horse in her voice tell him, “Go on.”

22:19 - April 27, 2003

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