Everyone talks about the wind, but you only feel the wind if you’re an idiot or you have a death wish. I want zero part of me exposed to wind, because I want zero part of me to be left on the asphalt if I crash. And it’s not about engine noise either. That’s just something guys with big bikes say. Sure, I like the sound, but it ain’t about the sound. I’d have an electric bike if I could afford one.
It’s not about the brotherhood, sisterhood, bikerhood. That’s nice. I’m not knocking it, but all the guys I rode with decided that they couldn’t ride with a liberal, so now I ride alone. And it’s fine. I rode alone for years. Never bothered me.
It’s not about leather or fashion or music or rebellion or disenfranchisement. And it’s probably different for everyone. Some folks do get off on a loud throttle. Some folks do want their mullets behind them like a sail. But most of us just like it. And we don’t really care about analyzing why. And we certainly don’t give a shit about explaining it to you.
I’ll explain it to the hawks as I swoop through the wetlands.
It tastes like grape bubblegum and suicide. Not the suicide that breaks your mom’s heart; I’m talking about the kind you get by mixing every soda into one cup and pretending that shit tastes good. Hint: go heavy on the Orange.
It feels like a doctor’s office where once every fifteen minutes you get a cookie. Only sometimes you don’t get a cookie. Sometimes you have to sit there and watch without doing anything. Doesn’t matter what’s happening. You just sit there.
It is too damn long, man. Way too long. There is not a thing in the world I want to do for five hours.
I like having beer spilled on me as much as the next guy, but you’re crazy if you think I’m paying eight bucks for a hot dog. And a sunburn. And lower back pain.
Do what you want, folks. It’s an amazing thing to have to choose. I choose not to go to the dentist, not to read Ulysses, and I choose pretty much anything over baseball.
It’ll be over before you know it, and you’ll wish you could do it again. Not because it was fun, but because it was fucked and maybe it would be less fucked the second time? It wouldn’t be. It would be just as fucked. But you’ll feel dirty about the whole thing. Touched. Uncomfortable like that relative who kisses you on the lips. It’ll twist you up, like when your teeth bite metal.
Win or lose, you’ve lost the second it starts.
I know some people do it for fun. You cant account for the tastes of some folks. Some folks tattoo their eyeballs and split their tongues in half. You want to do it? Of course not. So, don’t go thinking you’re meant to be a brawler if you’ve never tried it. There are fewer folks with the taste for it than you think.
Fair fight. It is one of the biggest cons in the history of cons. This idea that on one side are the honorable rogues and on the other side? No accounts. Hoodlums. The kind that will take every opportunity for a sucker punch. The problem is that the suckerpunchers are assholes who don’t fight fair, but go ahead and take the moral high ground.
Personally, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t like it. I need my hands not to hurt.
There is a patch of soft brown grass in the green field behind the house. It looks out of place. Not right. Or TOO right. The way a six year old draws a picture of a field, with a smiling yellow sun watching over it. Small eyes see what big eyes don’t. Hey Mom. This looks weird. Come look at it with me. It happens. The two of you end up staring down at this clump of brown in a field of green and neither of you want to touch it and you don’t know why.
Little boys are stupid or brave or they want to prove themselves or something. New worlds should be discovered by small boys. They’d probably be nicer to the natives.
Underneath is a small hole filled with something brown and then eyes shift, light changes, and the hole is full of baby rabbits. Perfect. Impossibly small and delicate. You don’t touch them because you both know better. You cover them fast and get the hell out of there and hope mamma rabbit doesn’t ghost them. But she doesn’t. And you go back to the house for dinner, then to bed, to dream about the treasure buried out back.
There is a trickle of light through the blinds and it falls, tumbling, through shadows and wisps of sleep. There is no sound but the regular ebb and flow of light breathing. This is sacred and this should not be disturbed. You sit quietly and silence your own body. Here is the solace some find in music. Some find it in sanctuaries. They think. They are wrong. It lives in her hair, glowing with morning light. It also lives in trout streams. Wake her gently, it is very early.
She will sleep in the car. She won’t remember anything, and it will be like she’s waking up at the stream. She will yawn and stretch and shake the sleep from her arms and hands. She will smile at the morning sounds. Birds will roust the frogs and they in turn will wake the beavers. The stream will come to life, and there will be a moment of synchronicity, a soft, pleading moment. You will catch your breath, your eyes will meet, and the past and future will drift away with the smoke from your coffee fire.
Wow, Dan, so much to unpack here. And thank you for that!ReplyDelete
* There's something almost lyrical to how you end the motorcycle piece. And not in a Whitesnake-does-Geico-commercial kind of lyric. Just honest and cool.
* I can relate to your baseball piece. But the first sentence sent me to a line in that old X song, "See How We Are":
'Cause now fires and rock houses
And grape-flavored rat poison
Are the new trinity
For this so-called community.
* Man, do I get your fighting piece! I came up in a time and place where fighting passed for daily badinage. I only saw it as a waste of good energy better burnt in something that didn't hurt or get your ass whipped and/or suspended/punished. And, c'mon, you're a musician. You need those digits.
* "Rabbit" is just sublime creative non-fiction, brother.
* The title of "Beautiful" says all I feel about the emotion passed on to us in those two grafs.
If you only knew what rabbit did to my heartstrings, evoking a whole era where my brothers and I saw fit to "rescue" those babies after the lawn mowers came through and then killed quite a few of them with kindness, though some did survive. I can smelled that grass right now. That and "Beautiful. My favorites...Delete
Those vignettes are so beautiful. I can see the rabbit's stillness, that "I'm so stealth you can't see me." Baseball, I feel it, even though I love baseball and might write a poem about the tango between pitcher and batter. And I still choose not to read Ulysses.Delete
Dan, can I say you hit it out of the park with baseball? Loved beautiful which is aptly named. And yes, the last line of motorcycle was sublime as well as everything that went before it.Delete
The last line of motorcycle got me right in the heart. And rabbit took me back to my childhood. Thank you for these gifts.Delete
I’ll tell you a secret. The sexiest part about a man is not his ass, nor what hides in his underwear if he wears underwear, nor the five o’clock shadow that chafes your cheeks when he kisses you. Nor the lines of the muscles in his neck, nor even his nipples. The sexiest parts of a man are his hands.ReplyDelete
Anybody who’s been loved by a guitarist, or a carpenter, or a sculptor knows this instinctively.
Mike was a mechanic. Long fingers, dirt under his nails. Dark hair grew on the back of his fingers, like shadows under a full moon.
His hands were cool to the touch. When he touched me, I mean. Light, like a butterfly, at first at least. I wondered if I imagined his hand on my shoulder when he was breaking the news of my old Ford’s impending demise. But I wasn’t.
There was a sort of electromagnetism that leapt from his fingers. Not a shock, more of a hum. Healing. I wondered if they would glow if the light were dimmer.
I heard only fragments of what he said, I was so fixated on his hands. “Clutch...” “oxygen sensor” “cataclysmic converter.” Or something like that.
Then his hand was on my back. Consoling. Patting me gently. I tried not to tear up, but I had no idea where I’d find the money to repair or replace the old car.
“Give me till tomorrow. Let me see if I can find some of the parts used.” He picked up a card from the counter and scribbled something on the back. Handing it to me, with his calloused fingers, he said, “We’ll work it out. I promise.”
I didn’t know whether to shake his hand, or kiss him, or just walk away. He made the choice for me. He covered my hand with both of his, and just held them there.
“Thanks,” I croaked. And I meant it.
When I got outside and went to put the card in my pocket, I glanced at the back to see what he’d written.
“Dinner. Tomorrow night. Meet me here at 7. Dress casual.”
I held the card to my face, inhaling the scent of blue ballpoint ink and grease and oil and Mike.
Maybe everything really would work out.
Damn. That was poignant. The hands. I hear that. I once fell for a guy just from the way he held his guitar.Delete
Oh I love this Leland. So much I'm not at all sure of what else to say except, more? Please?Delete
Thank you kindlyDelete
Gorgeous Leland. And I couldn't agree more. I'm definitely with you on the hands, thing.ReplyDelete
Laura was five years old when she first realized her mother didn’t like her. Until then, she’d been oblivious to her mother’s disdain the way the rain is dismissive of the wind or the sun. The rain falls and does what it’s going to do no matter what the ramifications. Be it rainbows or twisters, the rain keeps on, keeping on--no matter how the other natural elements effect the overall outcome of its existence. Until she was five that’s pretty much how Laura was around her mother. A walking and talking mound of youthfully, unperturbed, human ebullience.ReplyDelete
She didn’t know what she was missing exactly so Laura didn’t know to miss anything at all. Besides there were plenty of other people in Laura’s life who showed interest in her. Her daddy was always like the cool, comfy breeze entering any room she was in. He showed her how to draw, how to sing songs to remember her phone number and her address, and how to tie her shoes. That last training Laura remembered he and her mother had fought about. “Velcro, Ell. You’ve heard of velcro haven’t you? Don’t try to drag my child back to the dark ages with that “you must learn how to take care of yourself” Booker T. crap your sainted mother taught you. Not everything has to be hard. Remember I provide.”
It took Laura even longer to realize that her mother was rich. Or that rich was even a thing. It was at school that she finally figured it out when kids in school would tease their classmate Monica Alvarez for being a scholarship kid and living in public housing. Laura never got teased in school. Most people weren’t that interested in her at all but they never teased her. By then she was older and went through school like she went through most of her life outside of home. An observant, quiet, presence who always felt she was perpetually waiting for something. What was she waiting for? Why, the other shoe to drop, of course.
That feeling had started when she was five too. In Porfi’s kitchen.
Early on Porfi had been the only other person besides her dad that both Laura and her mother engaged with daily. Her mother’s chef, Porfirio Avendano was a man with a hairy face and a large muscular frame who wore a grey chef’s jacket with Chef Porfi embroidered in purple on the front. He would always be memorable to Laura as the person she knew who gave the best hugs and he always seemed the perfect size to dangle from which she did regularly when she was allowed to visit with him in the kitchen. He came in three times a week to cook for everyone in the household including Laura’s dad who lived on the property but not in the main house. The other two days he served meals he’d already made and bought groceries and planned menus with Laura’s mom. Sundays were always a big day in Porfi’s kitchen because that was the day he’d cook for the week.
Lovely, and what a sad and beautiful childhood. I'm interested in knowing how Laura turned out.Delete
I definitely want to see more! Laura is already one of those characters that seem to come into existence full blown. You recognize them instantly!Delete
Actually this is the beginning of a novel I dreamed about.ReplyDelete
To tell you the truth, I was a little bit scared. Not right at first of course. Make no difference to me whether a murder victim was rich or poor and the fact that she was famous didn’t faze me either. But when the Chief sent me out to interview the sister well, I have to confess I was a little intimidated.
The Gaspard place must have stood back a full mile off the main road behind a locked iron gate with a motto across the top. Carpent tua poma nepotes. I made a note to look it up when I got back to the station. Latin wasn’t my strong suit. When the house came into view, it was like some old-fashioned postcard, a big Queen Anne style place with broad wraparound porches, spread out of the wide green lawn like a lady’s petticoat. You could practically smell the money. I’d heard of it, of course, but never went there before the interview. The Gaspards were as famous as it gets around here, and just about as far out of our reach as pomegranates in winter.
But I did linger just a bit once I’d parked the car, checking my face in the rear view in case I had spinach in my teeth or a spot on my tie or something, sharpening the crease in my hat. I was nervous as a schoolgirl, but I had a job to do and it wasn’t pretty either.
Once upon a time, the Gaspards were a legend, heir to the first surviving set of quintuplets in the world; four girls, Gertie, Grace, Gretchen, Genevieve and a boy, George. It’s hard to imagine, these days, what news like that did for people, or even why they would care at all, but back then, the babies were looked on as some kind of miracle. I guess when you live in a world where diphtheria can wipe out your whole family, or measles leaves ‘em deaf and blind, or the factories closed and even keeping them fed could be a challenge, they represented some kind of hope. I can’t say. Never had any kids myself.
From what I’d read down at the office though, they made for some big box office. Especially when it came out that they had a set of twin brothers, too. I don’t know what old man Gaspard had in his pants, but it was pretty clear he wasn’t lacking anything at all in the brains department. When the well wishes started to pour in from all over the world, clothes and diapers and baby formula and furniture and Lord knows what all, he was sitting on a gold mine and he knew it. By the time those kids were two years old, they had their own radio program, tea parties on the newsreels, had met the Queen of England and were sitting on a goddamned fortune in residuals, toy, games, dolls, stuffed animals, the works. The money rolled in with every new milestone and when old Mrs. Gaspard finally died,(from overwork, presumably) it was reported he received over 50,000 direct proposals of marriage within a week.
But the kids grew up as they always do. The two older boys was both shot dead in the war, and after that, the Gaspard star had faded. The “closest family in the world” scattered to the far ends of earth, France, Ethiopia, South America and one by one, succumbed to the ravages of old age and death. Only two of the sisters remained until recently, holed up in this museum of a house in the middle of nowhere, anonymous and thought by local gossips to be a bit strange.
Now one of them was dead. Found decapitated and nude, dumped out in the woods not three miles from the house. I had no leads, no motive and no suspects, save one. And I was about to meet her.
wow! strong visuals and an interesting link to the past. Keep with it!Delete
I can see it all Teresa. The wrap around porches, the house, the Gaspards, and the uncomfortable detective. Yeah all the plucked fruit is visible in this one.ReplyDelete
How casually I steal
The plaid flannel shirt
You tossed aside last night
Not a lumberjack’s red and black
But black and white
Like a photograph
I imagine it holds
As it holds your scent
I inhale deeply
Old cologne like my uncles wore
Sweat from your splitting of firewood
The aspen trees, gold and dying,
We walked through yesterday
In the late afternoon sun.
There is also a hint of woodsmoke
From the fire we lit last night
Dinner wasn’t much
Pork and beans from a can
Seasoned with laughter
When the stars came out
And the fire died down
We zipped our sleeping bags together
And I watched you toss your shirt aside
I knew that it would hold
Of one autumn night
And now it is mine.
Loving and lovely. Adore the idea of Pork & Beans seasoned with laughter. I don't think P&B gets better. LOL.Delete