From there I wandered into more familiar territory. I've made images like these next two several times in the past. It's nothing new, however, I like the way it seems like colored oil floating on water. And it never hurts to go a familiar route when getting back in the habit of projects like this.
It's been a while since I did something visual, so I figured it was about time to go that route. As usual I didn't really know where I wanted to go. That meant doodling until something clicked. The first thing that did was the image below.
It conjured up the notion of spectral lights emerging from the dark, perhaps on some swamp road, where a broken down car sits with stranded passengers inside nervously eying the blooming illumination, unsure what it heralds. Even if nothing occurs there will always be the story of the dread those green glowing lights inspired. The way they slithered between the swamp trees like a nebulous bioluminescent shark unsettling the steeliest nerves.
From there I wandered into more familiar territory. I've made images like these next two several times in the past. It's nothing new, however, I like the way it seems like colored oil floating on water. And it never hurts to go a familiar route when getting back in the habit of projects like this.
In the end I decided to wrap things up with something simple, crude, and a little goofy. I don't really know what to call this. It is whatever you want it to be: an alien, a ghost, a human distorted by LSD lenses. Does it really matter? It's delightfully strange as far as I'm concerned.
Hand on the doorknob I started wondering if I should’ve brought a gun. As if to answer the speculation I heard the concussive thud of a grenade. The living room window exploded out, showering the front lawn with glass. Like a cartoon character diving away from an explosion too late, a charred body, I assumed to be a relative, flew out the opening.
Mom poked her head out, “Where do buy your shoes?”
Letting go of the knob I hurried next door. Knocking soon brought someone to the door. It opened revealing the cheery round face of Adam Hawks.
“Bless this day.” He stretched out a plump hand, warm as a fresh baked roll, and pumped mine twice, “It’s been too long.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” I lied. The Hawks family lived next door to us for as long as I could remember. I used to sit at my bedroom window waiting for the arrival of the alien mothership that would take them back to their home planet. Even at a young age I found something unsettling about their unflappable, chronic optimism. It didn’t seem natural, though it would be years before I realized the distorted lens through which I see the world. Yet there would be occasions, rare as mermaid sightings, when I found myself watching them, and thinking, “Maybe they are normal.”
If nothing else whenever the weird got to be too much at my house I discovered I could always retreat to their home. Adam and I used to be like friends. We went to the same elementary school. Together we walk there and back every day, however, once inside we took two different trajectories. The bullies went after us both, but I learned to use a pencil as a shank, while Adam just kept smiling, lip split open by a right cross; he just stood there with a bloody grin. Yet, there’s a bonding element in such shared experiences – psychic glue. A shared past can be more important than a shared perspective.
Adam asked, “Visiting your folks?”
My cousin came running out of the house carrying a carving knife. My elephantine brother soon followed after on a rascal scooter, firing an AK-47 in the air. The two went around to the back of the house, howling like moon-drunk madmen.
Nonchalantly I asked, “Mind if I step inside?”
“Come on in.” Beaming, Adam ushered me in.
I ducked inside. He closed the door behind me. He then led me to the dining room. There the Hawks sat, grins on every face, looking like a Norman Rockwell come to life. Briefly I envied them. Then I saw the wine.
“Is that non-alcoholic?”
“It is indeed. Care for a glass?” Mr. Hawks said, though I didn’t hear the question.
Already on the way out the door I said, “You people are fucking nuts.”
“Always a pleasure you kidder,” Adam called after me.
Taking a deep breath I marched into my parent’s home. My cousin left the door open, so I just went inside. Mom walked by carrying a flaming apple pie. She waved, and continued on without a word. I went into the living room where I found Dad behind an overturned coffee table. Kitchen knives flung with hostile intent stuck out of the makeshift shield.
Peering over Dad said, “Is that you boy?”
“Your cunt of an uncle shot the booze. Grab what you can, and keep it safe.”
Taking it as my solemn duty, I went to the liquor cabinet. Sad as a mass grave, the ruined bottles stood in pools, their blood promising bizarre cocktail possibilities. I found a cheap vodka, safe behind a noble tequila that took the bullet instead. Pouring a drop out for the fallen, I took the vodka away from that grim scene.
A trail of scorch marks like a dragon leaving a trail led to my Aunt Judy in the kitchen. She sat whittling a drumstick into a shank. She wore bits of turkey bone tied in her hair, her clothes torn into some kind of jungle warrior outfit.
Licking grease off her fingers she said, “We’ve been waiting for you.”
I backed out of the room slowly. Turning I bumped into my cousin. One eye ringed in swollen black, the white gone red, he swayed with the unbalance of someone concussed.
He said, “Myra. Has a hammer.”
He collapsed. I rummaged in his pockets, and found a pack of expensive cigarettes. I always suspected the bastard held out on me. Proof in hand I lit one up, stepped over the unconscious cousin, and headed to the dining room.
Mom sat at the table debating between a spoonful of stuffing or Hydrocodone. Shrugging her shoulders she settled on both. In the window behind her I saw my brother rounding the house, stilling firing in the air, though now my other cousin rode on his back; the two having joined forces to become a living tank. I sat down next to Mom.
She said, “At least we still have the smell.”
I nodded. A delicious aroma hung in the air, the ghostly remnant of the fine meal she prepared. Most of the dishes seemed to have been turned into weapons. Evidence abounded in the splatters on the wall, ceiling, and floor suggesting the fight began with food, and quickly escalated from there. A spot of blood on the table cloth hinting; perhaps honey glazed carrots scalded someone inspiring a punch that sent a hand after a fork then… the history of every arms races played out. I scooped up a bit of mashed potato with my finger.
Tasting it, “That’s good. Buttery and creamy.”
“Your grandmother made them. She knows how to do it best.”
Someone else might’ve been tempted to point out Grandma died twenty years ago. However, Mom believed enough in ghosts she made them real. Sometimes I even saw the specters she conjured.
Grabbing an intact wine glass I filled it with vodka. I gave Mom a quick hug as I departed the table. She patted my arm. I went to the front, watched my brother and cousin circle the house again. They briefly paused in their hollering and gunfire long enough to wave. I waved back then drained the wine glass.
While refilling, I heard an odd sound. Shouts came from the Hawks residence. Strolling over I stood by the dining room window. Mrs. Hawks sat weeping. Mr. Hawks looked beet red, his head likely to explode.
Mr. Hawks kept yelling, “Enough! Enough! Enough!”
Adam shouted at his sister Tina, “How could you vote for him?”
Tina hollered back, “How could you vote for her?”
And I felt at peace because it wasn’t just my family going mad this year. We’re all sharing the insanity this season. At least we all have that in common.
On a cobblestone highway
Eight miles from yesterday
One more to go
Before the snow
Is so far behind
It can't remind
Of frozen corpses.
Watch the winter rose is
Growing through skulls --
Nature has no lulls --
Thorns in rotted flesh
Coated in icy mesh
Like a battoulah in place
Across a dead face
To hide the grim promise
Thanks to Thomas.
Because Aquinas suggested
A human could be divested
Of the meat mechanical,
Oh pretentious animal,
Made of two,
The soul in you;
And it's the immaterial
Bound for the imperial
Holy cities in the sky
Warmed by god's eye.
So it should be easy to see
This killing spree
Was to prove that perception
Of the human conception.
On Ash Wednesday
Good Catholics pray,
And leave church marked.
The firing pin sparked...
The angel whisper bested
To satisfy curiosity tested
The thesis the incorporeal
Is part of the real.
And there's no harm
Enjoying the alarm
Of those not realizing
They're god's rising,
Sent to heaven for better;
The devil whisper abettor
Through the slaughter.
But no angels ever came after
Descending from the rafter
Into the chapel
To sweetly dispel
The simple fact
After the attack
The ghosts are gone.
To see what else saints got wrong.
Follow buffalo traces
To the bone filled places
Arctic shadows guard,
While strings pull hard
Constricting heart beats
Until common feats
Get to be
Formula; facts filterable
But not by eyes
Full of red rosy dyes.
Glass shards stir the scene
For best; for better; for bitter...
Carve up the queen
In her blood find glitter.
An act choleric,
Then delude with Homeric
Tales of romance
Inspiring risks worth no chance.
Don't go there, don't say -- too late,
Meet the dark side of fate...
In poetic terms too flowery to harm,
And make believe words can charm
Flesh to move against
The desire to recoil; digust sensed
But dyed eyes watch blindly
Preferring fiction told kindly.
Call it a taradiddle
Tempting to solve a riddle
No one ever asked.
The lady arrived masked,
While wearing nothing.
Leaving only why
Not say... we can still pretend
We're like reeds which bend
You must be jokin'.
Eighteen miles of scars seen as texture
Not signs of the past to change conjecture
That the right graceful pressure
Might push the picture
Away from abstract treasure
Defined by a mixture
Dying eyes thanks to a tincture
Cloaking the real measure
Showing the distance between
What's real, and what's seen.
It seemed like the easiest job I would ever have, easier than the time Japanese businessmen paid me to dress as a dolphin and kick them in the balls. Essentially, it came down to this: customers purchase an app for their phone which, after completing a questionnaire, allows them to receive text messages from their cats. The questions they answer provide a sense of the cat’s personality. Employees like me utilize that information to fashion responses which seem like something the cat might say. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but I know a guy who made a million bucks selling an app that interpreted stomach noises, suggesting foods the stomach wanted based on the sounds.
And given the fact the company, Feline Friends, paid a solid, albeit low, salary, I saw no reason to turn down a job that allowed me to work from home… ninety percent of the time mindlessly watching TV.
Glance over kitty’s personality, seeing he tends to smack things off tables, I text: “Hey. Sandra. That coffee mug. It’s going on the ground.”
To which Sandra replies, “Don’t you do it Khal.”
“Oh I’m doing it.”
“Don’t you dare.”
“I luv u ;) !”
“… I love you too.”
Most meow-messages™ went somewhere along those lines, a playful antagonism, or a sweet stupidity that bordered on manipulative. However, I can’t pretend I didn’t send texts for my own entertainment.
“Pet my belly. I won’t be a bear trap.”
“Okay,” a minute passes, “You bit me!”
“Those love nips. You like it.”
It’s amazing how much abuse people will take from a beloved kitty. The way aloofness of cats makes it seem like whatever affection they give is an accomplishment, a kind of earned love owners feel immense gratitude receiving.
Knowing customers expected a degree of mistreatment I reacted accordingly.
“Hi Mittens! Today at work I got a raise.”
“Does this means better foods?”
“Maybe no yez.”
“Sure! Yeah you get better nibbles.”
“Good. Now feedz me, or I eatz u.”
And during this exchange I’m actually imagining myself as the cat contemplating eating the owner. With a look of bored indifference I don’t give a shit this woman got a raise. I’m hungry, I want food – better food; I will eat you ya pink giant slave. Now bring me the kitty warmer you call laptop. I wish to lounge.
This may seem like great exercise for the imagination. However, it led to some strange personal behavior. Sitting in a bar one night I’m replying to a meow-message™, and absentmindedly I start slowing pushing a pint closer to the edge of the table… closer… until it falls off. It shattered on the ground drawing all eyes to me. I slow blinked, and walked out calmly.
That said, my only bone of contention revolved around the fact I technically needed to be ready to send messages 24/7. Asleep in bed I hear the cheery meow signaling a message from a client. Flopping over, half awake, I find a text asking why Catty Perry is shooting around the apartment like a pinball at top speed at 3 in the goddamn morning.
Reply: “I haz duh spooks.”
“Yeah, but why?”
As if I actually know the answer I text back, “Cuz ghosts!”
But things didn’t get strange until I got assigned to Linda. So let’s meet her.
Linda is a 42 year old efficiency expert. She’s the person companies hire in order to find the fat they want to trim. As such she tends to stay in, primarily because one night at a Tiki bar she got knocked unconscious with a coconut by someone whom her efficiency report got laid off. About two years ago, in order to feel less lonely, she adopted a cat. She tried online dating, but somehow she kept getting matched with people who got fired because of her.
I know all this because Linda thoroughly filled out her questionnaire. For instance, I know that at the age of nine she briefly owned a cat named Ruffles, but had to give him up because her sister turned out to be allergic, said loss becoming a subconscious irritant that’s always prevented the two from ever getting along. As I said, she filled it out thoroughly.
Her current kitty is a young Abyssinian named Raffles. Raffles enjoys sniffing sushi, playing with felt butterflies, and music by The Isley Brothers, especially the song “Just Came Here to Chill” off the album Baby Makin’ Music. Linda describes his personality as a cross between Leslie Knope, and Abelard, a castrated monk who lived 900 years ago whose love letters to the nun Heloise inspired Linda’s first erotic fantasies… thorough.
Armed with this in-depth report I sent Linda her first meow-message™ from Raffles:
Three hours later she replied, “Hi.”
This is not uncommon. There is an understandable hesitance at times. For instance, it takes a mental leap to have a conversation with a cat through text messages, while watching said kitty clearly not text you. Most of my clients seemed remarkably at ease with such a leap. However, on occasion some folks needed to be coaxed into things.
“Is there another cat?”
“Then it’s me, Raffles.”
“What are you doing right now?”
A quick check of my notes, “Sleeping on that clock."
A moment later, “Yeah you are. How are you feeling?”
Hooked. Sure, I guessed, but making the right call pulled her into the fantasy.
Over the next several weeks Linda became one of my most regular clients. We exchanged messages constantly, a definite plus for me because I got a bonus for every one hundred I sent. Linda averaged 300 a week guaranteeing me an extra fifty bucks every month. But it was easy to talk to her. Unlike other clients I didn’t need to do any of the cutesy misspelled bullshit. I could message her like a real human being. That should’ve been a warning sign. Most people don’t want their pet to be their intellectual equal. Other conversational elements involved possible implications only retrospect could reveal.
Linda: “Being vulnerable is an unpleasant feeling.”
Raffles: “Well, you’re safe when I’m around.”
Linda: “You always know just what to say.”
Or more obviously that time she texted:
“I like this dress.”
“I’ll be sure not to get fur on it.”
“Well, then I’d just have to take it off.”
We talked for hours. She told me about her love of crepes, and how in high school she got detention for criticizing a teacher’s inefficient way of writing on the chalkboard. She confessed to loving her mother more than her father, and I told her I sometimes felt the same, then we joked how I was stray, I never knew them – “Oh silly Raffles.” Though we both agreed, if I were a Dickensian kitten, that would be the case, abandoned by daddy not mum. Connected by texts we went shopping together, waited for an oil change to finish, and all around killed time. I actually found myself looking forward to our conversations.
Everything came to a head a few days ago. I’m on the couch watching The House that Dripped Blood (1971), sitting there in a bathrobe and boxers, eating cereal out of a pint glass when Linda texts me.
She writes, “I got some wine.”
I reply, “Are we having a party?”
“Party for two.”
“Me and you?”
“Sounds delightful. What’s the occasion?”
She replies, “There isn’t one per say, but we could make one.”
She then sent me a picture I can only describe as a fit 42 year old woman dressed in blue lingerie holding an Abyssinian. I then consulted the PDF training manual regarding this specific type of situation. Though employees of Feline Friends aren’t supposed to request sexting there is no outright prohibition if the client initiates it. Some people really love their cats. I read that section three times to be sure. However, despite no apparent ramifications I started to have doubts. It didn’t feel right. So I looked at the picture again.
I looked at her face, zoomed in on it. There’s no one mask to define desperation, but if there was it would’ve been Linda’s face. Her eyes begging. The photo erased my image of her as a crazy cat lady, replacing it with someone so desperate for human connection, yet so unable to find any she reached out into the void, grasping at this fantasy role playing as a means to indirectly connect with another person. She never thought of me as Raffles, the voice of her cat, she thought of me as a person, a human being. That’s what she wanted. And here, now, knowing nothing about me, she took another risk to fill another missing part of her life; imagine her standing there in her bedroom nervously sipping a glass of wine while waiting anxiously, heart thudding in her chest, not sure if she’s going to be humiliated, she’s out on a limb that might break at any moment, every passing second increasing the terror that another person is about to say no, you are unwanted; standing there naked in so many ways – it’s heart breaking.
Of course, that could just be me rationalizing what happened next…
I texted, “I like blue.”
I told her not to send me anymore pics just give me the details. She agreed. Endeavoring to be professional I stood under an arctic torrent in the shower. She sexted awkwardly at first, by which I mean the fumbling steps of someone unfamiliar with how to proceed. However, it didn’t take long before she went into the kind of poetic details only someone sexually starved will use. Those used to regular sex use blunt terminology because they haven’t had time to over think the “steady oily trickle building to a flow, a flood” as a silver vibrator hums against “quivering labia” before being “muffled, swallowed whole, sending shivers” throughout a woman “melting with pleasure.” The rosy flush that came to her vaginal lips, the almost painful stiffening of her nipples, fingers circling the outside of her wet hole gushing juice down to her asshole – blue skinned from the icy shower I still managed to join in the moment.
In a way it felt wrong not to. Someone being that erotically open and intimate deserves a kind of reciprocation. Also, I’d’ve never been able to honestly reply to her question, “Was it good for you?”
“It was great for me.”
She texted, “I’m going to get more wine.”
A few minutes passed while she struggled to think of what to say, contemplating what’d just happened perhaps inspiring her to text, “Then I think I’m going to bed.”
“I might do the same.” At least to wrap myself in warm blankets before my hands broke off.
I echoed, “Good night.”
“It was a good night?”
And I meant it, though immediately afterward I went to the freezer, cracked open a bottle of vodka, and aimed for black out. Not knowing what to feel I didn’t want to feel anything. Sometimes that’s easier. In the morning I found out Linda quit Feline Friends. That made things easier for me.
I emailed the head of HR, “I quit.”
The horrifying thing about last night’s election is that for many Americans the only thing they could do is sit, and watch it happen. Like the livefeed of some pervert streaming a grotesque obscenity many could only bear witness. For me, it felt like being locked in a room with a greasy rapist counting down aloud to the moment he intends to carry out what I cannot stop. I’m chained down. It’s not my choice to be here, to have this happen, but I can see through a window people gleefully walking by, pressing a button urging him to do what he wants. There’s another button right next to it. If they press that one he won’t be allowed to violate me. They choose not to press it. He grins, a look of smug self satisfaction, oiling his cock with drool, “5, 4, 3, 2…”
I felt physically ill last night. So uncomfortable, so terrified of the impending reality of a Donald Trump presidency I punched a brick wall hard enough to make my hand numb for a few seconds. I thought I broke it. I didn’t, but what an odd relief to have that pain as a distraction. It reminded me of high school, how on particularly dark days I’d retreat to my bedroom, crack open a stolen bottle of whiskey, and pull out a butterfly knife. I would slice into my skin to create the association that pain isn’t real unless there’s blood; emotions can’t hurt you. Sadly, though I left such irrational behavior behind a long time ago, I felt a desire last night to bring it back because I could only see dark days ahead. The feelings that view inspired I wanted gone.
Then a thought occurred to me. Unless some deus ex machina occurs Trump is the president. For whatever reason, a slender majority of Americans wanted this. Sure there are ways to rationalize the choice they made, however, those forgive a short-sighted understanding of politics – the GOP doesn’t need the presidency to influence what happens in this country, just look at the ways an entrenched Republican Congress blocked Obama at every turn – and a woefully willful ignorance of the candidate himself, the obvious hideousness of the man; yet my point is that this is whom they have chosen to represent our country. That is the act of a desperate people.
Conservatives are not stupid. That’s a dismissive characterization those who disagree with them often make. Conservatives are intelligent people, though that said they are also heavily invested in a particular way of life. As such they cling to it with an obstinacy that can be frustrating to deal with. Still, it’s a way of life that is dying off. According to the Pew Research Center 56% of Americans think abortion should be legal. Granted, one statistic does not show a terminal decline, but think about the society we’ve been building as a nation these several years.
Since roughly 1964, America has passed laws giving civil rights to a host of minorities, same-sex marriage is now a reality; racism isn’t gone, but we’re finally having a more open discussion about it – Black Lives Matter. And change, though not overnight, does influence future generations. Just look at Shirley Chisholm. In 1972 she became the first African American candidate going after a major party’s nomination, and people threatened to kill her. Four decades ago a black woman asking for the chance to lead this country meant she risked death. Now we have Barrack Obama. I am aware that is an oversimplification, and that certain -isms remain lamentably in place. Take this almost prophetic statement from Chisholm, “I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black.” But the point remains the same: Things change just not as fast as we might like.
We’re living in the transition. Consequently there’s going to be resistance from those who think life was better way back in the day. In a way, they are right. Life was better… for them. They want to step backwards because in their minds it’s a return to something golden. Seizing on that collective desire, Donald Trump, the most successful con artist in history, sold them the illusion he can guide them back to that past of milk and honey. The sad truth is he’s leading them to the fate of the Donner party… and the rest of us are along for the ride. That means it’s time to hold the line.
The pushback is on. It’s real. It isn’t an abstraction, or even something mild. Drunk uncle isn’t at a barbeque ranting with casual abandon about fags, niggers, and cunts, he’s president elect. It’s happening now. So we need to take a breath. Collect ourselves. Do what you need to dust off defeat, and help hold the line.
We’ve made advances as a society we can really be proud of. It’s time to hold onto them. All eyes on the oval office, watching to see what happens, so we can jump up to say, “No. We don’t want that. Don’t you fucking dare.” And even if something awful slips through we must bear witness to it so that the future learns from the nightmare we relate to them.
Out into the streets to protest, clamoring in every possible way to demand Congress not let him ruin this country. It’ll be four years of trench warfare – families after the holidays will become estranged, perhaps beyond repair – but sooner than we think, though not as soon as we hope, the chance will be here to vote him out.
In the meanwhile, vote in those willing to oppose him in Congress; don’t be silent when someone says something ignorant just because you’d prefer a quiet night out. Don’t take this lying down. Scrutinize his every move. Question every policy. Criticize him anyway you can: art, vlogs, t-shirts, books, plays, music, etc.
He wants a wall? Let’s show him a wall, a wall of minds aligned in opposition to this monstrosity.
The city is on fire, but that isn’t a bad thing. Chicago is good at burning because it’s great at rising from the ashes. Sure, ashes can be the start of an arid desert, plagued by a 108 year long drought; however, the people living in such environments appreciate the rain more than anywhere else. And besides, not all fires destroy. Ceremonial bonfires dot the streets on Addison, police standing at a cautious distance while celebrating frenzied fans leap around the flames. Smashing barstools, they fuel the fires into high rising columns which seem to spit stars into the sky.
Thru the apartment window it’s easy to imagine fantastical futures:
Sitting on a throne of bones the king of Wrigley calls for his son. Coors knights escort the young Prince into the hallowed dugout. There he is greeted by the royal sorcerer Sianis Goat the Third. The Prince knows him as nothing more than a peddler of cheap hallucinogens, but the old snake oil dealer is well connected, so the Prince bows respectfully as Sianis Goat ushers him into the bowels of the palace.
He finds his father seated in darkness, regarding the first crown, a battered assembly of beer cans torn apart and woven together. The label, still clear on the front, is the progenitor of the royal seal, yet this relic bears only a passing resemblance to the contemporary coat of arms. And though Pabst Blue Ribbon lies at the root of all aristocratic heraldry, there is something divine about the first. Perhaps it’s merely the young Prince’s reverent imagination, but it does seem to shine in the darkness.
Seeing the boy his father beckons him closer. His leather armor almost seems to groan, doing what the old stoic will not: confess his feelings; his fatigue. When the Prince is close enough his father says:
“Legends have a way of disposing of facts. You know the stories about your grandfather, but it’s time you knew the truth. Just as my father told me, I’m about to tell you. Sit.”
Perhaps it won’t be quite as epic as all that, though, why would anyone want anything less? The city devolving into some kind of Mad Max, Game of Thrones hybrid following the recent Cubs victory – there is a point fantasy borders on all too possible. Watching revelers dance naked through the Wrigleyville Taco Bell shouting, “There is a God!” it seems more than likely the fantastical is possible. The chanting mobs decked out in blue, marching to other parts of the city, torch GIFs on their smartphones, singing Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go.” They remind me of Scottish soldiers marching against the odds. Decades of defeat haven’t withered their resolve one iota; and tonight is proof they could hold victory in their hands – they were never fools for believing.
Celebratory gunshots mingle with the fireworks. Following the sound of a Magnum revolver to the alley, I spy my neighbor drunkenly firing into the ground. At least she’s got the good sense not to shoot the sky. Those bullets come back to Earth eventually, still lethal. Or maybe she’s too drunk to aim straight. Either way I can’t help imagining:
She downs another vodka. These aren’t shots in the traditional sense. These are artillery shells, numbing her frayed nerves. Creeping into the tenth inning she hears the ghost of her grandfather muttering prayers in Latin. He used to tell her stories about Joe Tinker, Frank Chance, and Johnny Evers winning back in 1907-08. He died long ago, and her years as a fan have been nothing but disappointment alongside the crushing horror of coming close enough to trip, face plant inches from the finishing line.
Slugging back another she misses the final pitch. The crack of a hit almost causes her to choke. Her heart stops beating as Kris Bryant throws to Rizzo, sealing the final out. She jumps up, hands touching the ceiling, and when she turns she can see dziadek’s ghost. Tears in both their eyes, she watches him slowly fade away, finally able to peacefully move on. As such, it’s a bittersweet win for her.
She sees me, and waves with the gun in hand. I smile, and wave back. It’s best to be neighborly with an armed person.
Back in the living room I turn off the TV. There’s nothing else to see tonight. For all who witnessed it this is the birth of a legend. There are no more rarer moments than this. Yet, I can’t say I watched it all. I found the fans more intriguing than the game. Peeking in on live streams from taverns, on Facebook, and even watching out the window, it’s been an education. There’s something truly unique about watching what amounts to eyes silently glued to screens anxiously anticipating something no one thought possible. Sure, they’ve always said next year… next year… next year… until enough decades have gone by next year is a way of saying never. However, that glorious next year is here. It can happen. The optimistic promise of tomorrow can be fulfilled. It’s just a matter of holding on long enough.