Friday, December 18, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

See’s Candy

The truck won’t start, and you’re pushing it down El Camino. Running beside it like a winded dog, while the people on the sidewalk stare. But you’ll get there. And you’ll be covered in sweat, but the old ladies don’t mind. The white uniforms don’t mind. And you might have to decline a sample because it would stick in your parched throat like sandpaper, but you’ll get the nut n chews and she’ll be happy. The truck will get fixed. Don’t worry about continuity, because I got continuity for days. In fact, that trip to See’s turned into two children who may take the world by storm. They just might.

The point is that sometimes things matter just because they matter. I don’t need to understand it. You don’t need to understand it. It’s just this thing you need to come to terms with. And accept. And if you do, the keys to the kingdom of Heaven are yours. She might watch you fish for hours and just smile. She might forgive you one more time than she should have had to. She might be waiting to grow old with you, just because you made that trek, covered in sweat, and you brought home the bacon. Which in this case was chocolate.



He wakes up early and drinks bad coffee in the dark kitchen. The sound of the refrigerator is like silverware in a garbage disposal, it would grate on him if he wasn’t so tired. The house is empty, but there is a child in a hospital room across town who calls him Papa, so he wakes up and goes to the first of two jobs, both in kitchens, one Denny’s, one Chipotle.

Two eight hour shifts get strung together by a thirty-minute bus ride most days. He sleeps on break. He sleeps on Saturday, and he is adamant about his Saturdays, and his managers don’t schedule him on Saturday ever, because they know that is the only time he sleeps. And without sleep, you can’t work. Maybe, you die.

He is soft spoken, but he is also young, and he has a simmering anger behind his smile. Nothing to do with it. He knows that the future is full of ground out days and hospital stays. He thinks about his choices and he wonders if he should have come North at all. The hospital is better here. It was the only way, but it is killing him.

He falls asleep standing up. He falls asleep on the shitter. He falls asleep eating lunch, and everyone pretends they don’t notice. They cover for him when he falls asleep sitting on a pile of milk cartons in the walk-in-fridge. They see him struggle, they see the inevitable crash coming, and they cross their fingers that today is not the day.

See Luis. Tired. Works two jobs, but it’s a small sacrifice. His daughter is alive.

Friday, December 11, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

 A love song

You turn the radio up and you smile. Just vibin’ and the sunset is on fire, and the whole highway is open wide. Behind you, there are rest stops and regrets, and it all sits on top of the fence like a hungry egret, hoping something is about to wash down the culvert.

It’s one of those songs you hear, and it makes this deep, soft hurt in your chest. It’s like a lump of ice caught in your throat and it’s killing you. You try to swallow it down, and you hope it will melt, but it just sits there and you think, OK, this is it. I’m going to die now. Here, on this highway. Alone. But you don’t. The ice melts.

And maybe you still think about it when you get home. Maybe it sits with you all night like heartburn, and you pull out old photo albums. You watch a dumb movie you hated. Or maybe you write a song, tell a story. Bomb a country whose name you can’t spell. This is America, no one can tell you how to get your kicks.

Turn the song up. The bend in the road is coming.



It’s a whole lot of something, but you can’t put your finger on the pulse, so you just write it off. That’s not fair, and that’s not an OK thing to do, but you do it, and you don’t feel bad about it. Words are blunt instruments for you. I keep mine sharp like scalpels.

It’s easy to cast things aside when you won’t let them blossom. It makes for a succinct and brutal surgery. But here it is.

There is a small girl sitting on the end of a pier because that’s where she used to fish with her old man. He wrapped his F150 about a telephone pole driving drunk after a hard day of work. So, she sits on the pier, and sometimes, she talks, but mostly, she just sits there. Staring at the ripples on the water and the way it breaks up the sunlight. She hears the birds making bird noises.

That may be nothing to some folks. Don’t tell her, though.

Friday, December 4, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

The branches tangle where they enter the water. From the bank, the old tree digs its toes into the silting mud and maintains. Under the water, within the tangle of branches, and, lower, where catfish pack themselves into the rooted system of caves, there is astounding life. There are galaxies and worlds. The air above the water is whipped to a froth by kingfishers and ospreys. Jays and red-winged black birds. There is a hatch on, and the excitable fish will rise to the banquet when the sun sets it right. There is a crunching through the earth from earthworms and beetles and armies of ants. In the dry grass beside the calm pool, a rattlesnake slumbers. Lizards thrash through piles of dry leaves and vultures fan the sun into alternate bands of light and shadow as they cross the sun, never flying too close. The wax that holds their wings stays strong. No hubris for the vultures. The breezes lift the caps of the flowers and bees flit between bursts of color, collecting gold. The water gurgles and dances its way, kissing everything it touches. This is the place that is waiting for you. Will always wait. This is providence.