Marc D Goldfinger
Road Scribes Of America ™ Active Member
© Marc D. Goldfinger
I’m not saying that there is no such thing as a solid reality. Really, what I mean by that statement is that all we get to go on is a construct of reality filtered through to us by our nerve systems that have been altered, muddled, and distorted by others since the day we were born.
Which brings me to Cowboy. The man had his own reality but fate cast him into another stranger, more alien reality than he ever dreamed existed. He never travelled farther west than Olean, New York. The only use he had for cows was gathering mushrooms from their pasture pies. As for riding a horse, it was his opinion that the only thing with brains that was born to be ridden was a woman.
Cowboy was born into a drinking family. Motorcycles, alcohol, drugs, and fast women. Riding the iron horse was his life. Everything else came second. His bikes were fast and powerful. When he was drinking he didn’t like to stop for traffic lights because usually he was so loaded that, when the natural balance of the moving motorcycle ceased, he fell down.
When he was young he learned from the men in his family. His sexual practices were Neanderthal in nature to say the least. At the age of nineteen Cowboy thought that foreplay was letting three of his friends have her first while he finished his case of beer.
Sascha changed all that. He met her at a bar in Hillsboro, New Hampshire called Tomachhio’s when he was thirty-one years old. He had just finished drinking a shot of Jack with a beer back when she walked in.
In Italy they say every man and every woman has the perfect partner and when that person walks into their life, it is as if they are struck by a thunderbolt. Cowboy had never heard that story. It didn’t matter. He was struck when she walked in.
In that moment everything changed for both of them. They drank, they danced, they went home with each other.
* * *
Two years later the car came out of nowhere.
But let’s back up a little. Sascha pressed her sweet self into Cowboy’s back as they rode. Sometimes she dropped her hands into the wind and just leaned back into the sissy bar as the wind tied her hair into a beauty explosion of crazy knots. On this day she reached around him with both arms, slid her hands under his shirt and stroked him where the forest of his pubic hair began.
Cowboy was heated with her love. Three days ago, it was a Saturday night, he had been out drinking with his cohorts. At 3AM Sunday morning he remembered that he had told Sascha he was coming home directly from work at the flea market in Derry, New Hampshire. He had closed the stand at 5PM with all intentions of heading right home when Sprockett and Toad stopped by. They went out for a beer.
Ten hours later, which was one hell of a lot sooner than the time he had gone out for a beer in January of ‘81 and returned in April of that same year with the explanation that he had lost track of time and didn’t think it was going to take as long as it did to pick up that scooter just over the state line in New York but there were other brothers, bikes, and a small police matter that tied him up for a bit, but here he was only ten hours late and a little drunk so he kicked the front door in, threw his leather on the couch in the living room and walked into the kitchen. Sascha sat at the kitchen table reading a book.
She looked up at him with those eyes that made him dizzier than one fifth of Johnny Walker Black.
“What’s the problem?” he asked.
She smiled. “No problem except for the front door.”
“Well, I had to get in and if you hadn’t locked . . .”
“Cowboy. I stopped locking the door eight months ago. This is the fifth time you’ve kicked it in when all you had to do was turn the doorknob.”
“Wow. I forgot again.”
She smiled. “I’ll put a steak on for you while you put plastic over the opening. I made salad and we have Bleu cheese dressing.”
Cowboy didn’t really know what to say so he went into the living room, closed the fresh air conduit he had opened, and then he went back to the kitchen and sat. He watched Sascha move around the room. He couldn’t take it anymore and went to her.
Afterwards they ate steak and salad. Then they went to bed. Later they went to sleep.
48 hours later the car came out of nowhere.
* * *
Cowboy attempted to lay the bike down. It was too close, everything was moving too fast, and it was just too damned late.
When the sound stopped the world lay twisted on asphalt. Cowboy raised himself from the weeds on the side of the road. A car engine roared loudly, then faded as it vanished around the first curve, dipped down over the rise and was gone. Silence.
The first thing he saw was the bent motorcycle. Then he saw her. Sascha lay near the bike, twisted, broken, silent. There was a growing pool of liquid spilling from the cranial area of her body. Splintered bone protruded from her right leg. No movement except for the growing stain under her head. A high pitched whine scraped the air all around him as his black leather boots pounded the dark pitch road. It was not until he reached her side that he realized the sound was coming from his open mouth.
If sound equaled wind, the trees would have been torn from the ground by his cry and every nearby cloud might have been ripped out of the sky leaving black spaces where the blue should have appeared.
Sudden death is darkness like a knife puncturing the illusory veil of light within which our reality dwells. Denial and horror are the children borne of the rapid sweep of the scythe. Cowboy was a tree rooted to the road looking down at his loved one. The summer of his life skipped autumn and roared into winter.
There was no room for rage in his broken heart. He did not think of the murderer who had left the scene. All he could do was drop to his knees, tears cutting his cheeks, soaking his heavy beard, press his hands to the inert body of the one he loved and scream his prayer to the impassive sky.
“No,” he howled, “no, God, take me instead,” was what he said and he meant it with every fibre of his being.
“God, take me instead.”
There was a moment of total black. Even the air smelled like dark earth, worms turning after a flood rain, the scent of myrrh in the midst of it all.
There was the sound of wings beating. A flash of light.
Cowboy rocked back on his heels, almost falling over by the jolt he felt when the bird-like creature with a woman’s head appeared. She was over six feet tall with long flowing thick hair that moved as if it had a life of its own, eyes of rainbow shooting sparks of multi-coloured light. The biker’s dark beard was suddenly shot through with shocks of grey. His tongue grew thick in his mouth and he could not speak.
The wings of this strange creature beat slowly, rhythmically, even as she stood facing Cowboy and casting those unbelieveable eyes down at Sascha.
“Let me see . . .” she said as she placed her hands on the still woman’s chest. “Yes, yes, we can do this,” she muttered and looked up at the sky. The sky. It was filled with colours moving like a sea of unrest, a storm, a typhoon from another world.
Cowboy was rigid. There was no way he could process what was happening.
The winged one pressed her hands onto the quiet chest of the woman.
“Clear!” she spoke and the body of Sascha leaped as if a great electric current sluiced through it. “Again!” spoke the creature and the body of Sascha convulsed again.
This time the winged one was thrust back by the force of the blow. Her wings beat, beat, beat to retain her balance and she did not lose contact with the dead woman.
A great wind came from nowhere and moaned with sorrow. It seemed to come from everywhere and Cowboy looked about for the source of it. When he turned back to look at Sascha, he saw that this wind came from her.
The creature glanced into Cowboy’s eyes, turned the lock.
“I am Alecto of the Eumenides, servants of the greater Gods,” it said. “You called, we came.”
“But what . . .”
“Your life for hers. We salute you. It is true love.” Then the creature that called itself Alecto smiled.
The great wind had become the sound of peaceful breathing and Sascha appeared to be waking up from a great sleep.
“Quickly,” said Alecto. “There is little time.”
“I’m ready,” Cowboy said, and he felt his heart flutter like a little bird in the barrel of his chest as he reached out to take the hand of Alecto.
Alecto threw back her head and laughed, her thick hairs coiling and writhing like serpents, then she spoke.
“Oh, you will be taken,” she said. “But you yourself will journey there through events that would seem to be of your own making. The price of life is never what we might expect. It is always greater.
Alecto laughed again but this time a tear spilled like multi-coloured paint from her eye. “There was a glitch. Unavoidable. But who knew? Even God is not perfect. Only the demons own perfection. Which is why they will never win. Humans are too much like the Gods. Ultimately flawed.”
Cowboy was so confused by now that he could not think. Which, of course, is always a good thing under circumstances like these.
“The glitch,” Alecto said with a wan smile, “is that no one knew Sascha was pregnant. In the name of the Daughters of Nyx, even the Gods make plans so the Heavens may laugh back at them. Didn’t Oscar Wilde say that?”
And then Alecto’s wings began to beat furiously, the colours exploded from her eyes, and as she rose she said, “Kiss your wife now as she wakes. It will gentle her return.” Alecto paused in midflight, continuing to speak.
“Oh yes, her right leg will be one-half inch shorter than her left. That is her price. But your daughter’s price, oh my Goddess . . .”
And then Alecto was gone.
* * *
Cowboy had stopped drinking for almost three months when he decided that one shot of Johnny Walker couldn’t possibly hurt.
The first drink was at a place called the Zoo in Manchester, New Hampshire. Somehow he wound up in an old stomping ground in a town called Milford, located in Massachusetts, drinking with some of his riding buddies. He had an argument with two of them at a den of iniquity known as Davey Jones Locker, had left his erstwhile friends to go to a quieter place where he nursed his drinks and fueled his anger until he had lost track of time, amongst other things.
He decided it was time to settle things back at Davey Jones Locker, hopped on his scooter and stopped in front of the bar. He couldn’t believe it. They had turned off all the lights in the bar and were hiding from him.
Cowboy killed his engine, got off the bike, staggered to the door and began to pound on it with his massive fist.
“Open the door, you (too many expletives to bother chronicling here) . . .”
When there was no response he could picture them inside, laughing at him, holding their bellies, rolling about the floor with big guffaws and the rage really kicked in, fueled by only the Gods knew how many drinks. He raised his studded black boot and smashed in the door.
Cowboy lurched into the bar, stunned. The place was empty. He looked at the clock above the bar and saw that it was after 3PM. Time had somehow gotten away from him.
Just then, the immensity of his situation struck him like a sledgehammer. If the police came they would look at this as a simple case of B & E in the nightime and they, because of his police record that was so long you could wallpaper a small ballroom with it, would definitely lock his ass away.
He turned to go and then halted in midstep. The alcoholic thinking really revved up. Since, he thought, he was already in for a dime he might as well go in for a dollar. Cowboy turned back to the bar, vaulted over it, grabbed a bottle of Jack, a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and a jug of Canadian Mist. Then he checked the cash register. Nothing but change. He filled his pockets anyway.
He smiled inwardly, wobbled to the door and out, opened the leather saddle bags on the Harley, and carefully laid the bottles in. He paused for one moment, lifted out the bottle of Jack, cracked the seal, took a hit and then placed it back into the saddle bag.
Then he thought he better get the hell out of Dodge City. He straddled the big bike, kicked once and the engine coughed as the police car pulled alongside him.
And that was how Cowboy came to be at the Worcester County House of Correction on maxi-tier. There’s more to the story but that’s enough for now.
Are You My Girl Or What
By Marc D. Goldfinger
She sat across the table from me drinking her coffee. Her eyes kept blinking really fast like there was too much light going into them. It was her third cup of coffee and my second was just going down my throat. I got up to get another cupful.
“Get me another, okay,” she said.
“You could wait til you finish that one,” was what I said as I walked away. I knew she wouldn’t
say anything. She just looked into her cup for a minute and then drank some more. I filled my cup again and walked back to the table.
It was early in the day and the school cafeteria was quiet. It was after breakfast but way before lunch and we had just woke up after drinking late into the night. Me and Sarah, we had fought about something around 3am right before we passed out. I didn’t remember anything about it except that she cried a little bit before she started sleep breathing. Then I rolled over and went to sleep too.
“What did we fight about last night,” I asked her as I sat down.
Her eyes flicked from mine to another part of the room. She stared away for a long second then turned back towards me. I kept staring to where I thought her eyes should be. She stuck her finger into her coffee and moved it like she was trying to pick something out of it. I looked at her coffee but there was nothing in it but her finger.
“What did you ask,” she asked.
“Never mind,” I answered.
People were starting to drift in to the cafe. We sat and watched one couple get coffee. They were talking really loud and the girl kept saying, “I can’t believe you said that,” but we never could hear the guy as well as we heard her. It was like his words were all jumbled together. They paid for their coffee and went outside.
“They looked like they were high on drugs,” Sarah said.
“You think everybody is, don’t you?”
“Well?” she answered.
I stared at her. Reached down and took a sip of my coffee but kept looking at her eyes until she looked away.
“I don’t like the way you treat me sometimes,” she said.
That really made me smile.
“What are you smiling about? That wasn’t funny.”
“You know, I really think I could do anything I want to you and you wouldn’t leave me.” was what
I said to her.
“That’s not true,”she said. She stared into her coffee.
“Come on. You know it is.”
“I don’t know why you’re saying that,” she said.
I picked up my coffee cup and splashed the rest of my coffee all over her, in her face, on her sweater. She jumped up and tried to brush it off like it was bread crumbs or something and it stained her blouse and dripped off her hair.
She went to the rest room to wash it off and then came back and sat down.
“I don’t know why you did that,” she said. “Now I’m going to have to go back and change. Why did you do that?”
I looked at her and tapped my finger on the table.
“Just to prove a point,” was what I said.
“I can’t believe you did that.”
“Are you my girl or what?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said. “So what does that have to do with anything?”
“It has to do with everything,” I said. And I smiled at her.
A Bright Blue Light
By Marc D. Goldfinger
For Mary Haut, March 29, 1913 — March 24, 2003
over the Carpathian Mountains,
she is back home in the Ukraine.
She startles when the nurses
surround her in the hospital bed
ask her if
she is all right, they tell her
the heart monitors were going crazy
back at the nurses’ station.
Mary smiles and says
she wants her money back, the vacation
was over too quick
and they ask her “do you know
where you are?”
She says “of course I do, I’m at
the hospital now,” as one nurse checks
her blood pressure and the other
gives her medicine to stabilize
her heart beat. “Next time
don’t wake me.”
Mary shuts her eyes. She isn’t going anywhere
yet. She remembers
flying over the snow-covered
mountains, how warm
the wind felt, the sky was
a bright blue light. She was breathing,
falling into it when the nurses
woke her, shook her from the sky.
The Angels of Gloucester
By Marc D. Goldfinger
In Gloucester, the angels come together
in hospitals, churches, kitchens, they laugh and cry
in each other’s arms. Once they were dirt
whores, carried by the winds of bad chance
into dark hallways, virus-strewn streets,
offered themselves to wasted men and other
cracked demons to buy death on hard-time payments.
Their spirits forgot the words to the ancient
sister songs and their children were ripped
from them. Cramped and alone, these women
cowered in dark basements, fell to their knees before
lesser gods in hell’s hotels, died and were
burned, their ashes swept away with a bitter tide. Everything
changes. They become sisters, walk an ancient path now, join hands
at signs of trouble, hug each other’s children, knit
their families into hot strong blankets with threads
of prayer. The men watch.
By Marc D. Goldfinger
The worst winds are those
that will come tonight, or
those that have already past,
or those that blow right
now, the hot rain steams sex
from my skin. It is a relentless
love that separates the atoms
in my cement, burns the plaster
in the walls of my heart, when
I rest you tear my dreams
into colours never seen before.
It is a relentless love, the only love
I can abide, when I look into
your eyes that spit music at
me in the dark it shakes
my heart into fullness. It is
a relentless love that shouts
anger into my ears, raging
cats in combat, torn, we
lick each other’s fur with rough
tongues, resting in the wildness.
It is a relentless love, I know
no other in any of my lifetimes,
it is my turn to cook dinner
The Way She Shakes
By Marc D. Goldfinger
First I checked with the lawyer and she
said that the papers had gone out
to my wife six months past
but no word from the courts yet.
I called the courts and they
said no papers had been
filed. Try another court. Called her
phone number. Disconnected. No
new number listed. The lawyer
told me I could file like she was
missing by putting a notice out
in the paper. Do the divorce
alone. I figured that one way I
could track her down was through
some people we knew when we
had more things in common. At the
shopping mall I saw him. He said that
he gets frightened by the way
she shakes when she injects the cocaine
he gets for her. He said, “She don’t
look too good. I don’t want her
dying when she’s with me. Might cut
her off.” I told him the next
time he sees her tell her to give
me a call. I rode away on
my bicycle. Inside I didn’t feel
too good. My stomach.
Uncontested. Divorce isn’t easy.
By “Moshe” Marc D. Goldfinger
I find myself
checking the veins on
the arms of pretty women
strolling through Harvard Square.
Double-pierced tongue; aerial
spikes through bodies suspended; bird
beaks biting the skull of sensual strangers; blood
spattered orgasms spandex the mind; met
her on a Sunday, handcuffs too tight.
our soulmates; I want the woman with the Ankh
tattooed on her ankle, I think of pyramids
when we fuck. She feeds her raven
dead parakeets, places her daschund in the cage
with the boa constrictor, drops lamprey eels
into her giant goldfish pond, prays for hot
days. Says she wants to eat
me live but doesn’t want me to live
through it, she shreds Brillo into my
spaghetti; laces my heroin
with digitalis; stretches wire across
motorcycle paths I use daily; she pours
quicklime into my condoms; God
chooses our soulmates; I want
the woman with the teeth.
Medusa With Fire
By Marc D. Goldfinger
for Sascha,with love,1960 — 1998, R.I.P.
The teddy bear on my bed wears
her hat now, a purple beret. She
wore it cocked to the side, her hair
flowed out from under it, wild, red
mingling with brown. When the wind
put motion to it she looked like
Medusa with fire instead of snakes.
Medusa knew enough
not to look in the mirror. My wife
looked, she stared, she was never
satisfied. But then, who is? Who
can say, “I have always accepted
what I see.” Yet we cannot drag
our eyes away, we curse, rake
our nails down the softness
stripping red blood lines, spit
at the reflection. That’s what
she did. Then she put that beret
back on, took out the needle
and put water on the heroin
in her spoon. The teddy bear
has glass eyes, eyes that don’t see
anything. Black eyes, eyes I can
for Thich Nhat Hanh
by Marc D. Goldfinger
God help me
to be a cool breeze on a hot day
a warm pocket in a biting wind
a handhold on the face of the sheer cliff
a bowl of rice in the hands of a hungry child
Help me God
to be the tremor in a gunman’s hand so the bullet misses
to be a cup of water in the desert
to be the hole in the net so the dolphin escapes
to be a still mind on a stormy day
God help me
to be the size of myself, nothing
less and nothing more,
and when I look into your eyes
to see who I am dwelling in you
Help me God
to love, to know
that I am not better than you
and I am not worse than you
I am not as good as you
Getting Fixed In South Carolina*
By Moshe/Marc D. Goldfinger
South Carolina night
The heat had been beatin’ on blacktop all day
and in the dusk’s dark the sun still rose
in waves from tar-drippin’ asphalt bubbles
I slowed the bike down on dope street
the man waved me over
flashing teeth from night-face
no dope in pocket gotta ride for it
creaking motorcycle shocks as big man gets on
feel his hands on my waist and I try to remember the face
behind me mustache comes to mind that’s all
had he passed me dope in the darkness
before this hot summer night
addiction only remembers what it needs
chasing dragons through misty mountains of the mind
I kick it through the gears and the red lights
there is no stopping us now
my addiction is talking to me
it whispers sweet shit into my ear
and I know this monkey is a liar
picking up speed
and the dope man’s hands tighten up on my waist
and he hisses at me to slow the fuck down as
I lean into the back road curve hard
scraping foot pegs on asphalt
sparks just like shooting stars
wink out into the night
like young men on dope-city streets
dancing to deadly drive-by rhythms
Suddenly my engine freewheels
I can tell by the scream
the road pressure is gone
as pounding pistons freed from confining transmissions
fry their cylinders and boil oil
I snap the throttle back to idle
pull the clutch lever
dope man holding my waist tight and yelling in my ear
and I’m paying attention to nothing and everything
as I tap the shift lever down
and still nothing
my addiction is howling in anguish
as I shut the engine down
and roll the machine to the shoulder
The night is hot
I am sick and sweaty
with road dirt gritting on my face
the man wants to go
the man wants to stay
I want a flashlight
the clutch cable has broken loose
my disease has broken out in my mind
like a chattering monkey
beating on existential bars
in a prison of its own making
the man wants to go
the man wants to stay
I promise a quick fix
as I fumble the clutch cable between grease and sweat
and shaking fingers
and I know that I am a liar
but my addiction wants him to stay
he is the stellar connection
to blisters, pus, disease and denial
riding high on a dead white horse
chasing dragons that whisper lies to me
in the middle of the night
and I believe everything like a child
knowing his parents are lying again
but how can the world shake like that
the dope man is leaning down to see how I am doing
I am slipping the cable back into place
with aching fingers
and wondering what his face really looks like
in the light
my addiction shakes my head
the man wants to go
the man wants to stay
and his addiction makes him wait
and wait and wait and wait
My fingers are cable-torn
they slip again and again
I need to call my wife
I need to hurry up
I need to get some dope
I need to hook this up
why does this always happen to me
I need to call my wife
I need to get some dope
this is not real
and in my imagination only
I bend to my task
the man is yelling
my addiction is talking
and I am suddenly in the air
I am hearing the impact
what is that metal-tearing sound
I don’t know why I am flying
I feel the body-wrack pain
dull like a thud
and I am a bird that bounces
the world spins past and there are sounds
that defy my ears
and suddenly all is still.
In the heat’s silence dead engines
and deactivated metal ticks
and I smell the grass and the earth
like me it has been freshly torn and wounded
The is how death comes
like lights in the night
bearing tidings of metal
pumped by oil and misruled by blood beings
I am afraid to move
I am afraid to think
I am afraid to die
Can I catch my breath
where has it gone
suddenly I can breathe
raw and hurting
but there is no hiss of air
and I laugh suddenly
for I remember about punctured lungs
and I know that the only thing going right
is my lungs are not hissing through rib-torn holes
And then I hear voices
and I am not alone
it is a man’s voice and he is saying
“tell them you were driving
tell them you were driving”
and then there is a woman’s voice
and she is saying
“Not this time
not this time
this man is dead
and that man is dying.
There is too much involved here.”
And I know that I am what is too much involved here
and I know that the dope man is “this man who is dead”
and I know that I am “that man who is dying”
and there is too much involved here.
And I want to get to them
and shake them and tell them
shake them and kill them
for caring so much
they don’t want to get in trouble
and I don’t want to die
not right now
but they are in trouble
and things are a little worse than that
for me and the dope man
And where has my addiction gone
while all this is happening
took the fuck off
and told me
“you’re in this one all by yourself”
and I try to get up
to tell that man
to tell that woman
all about ‘too much involved here’
and what all that shit really means
to me and the man who is dead
I have legs that shoot pain and fire
and will not work
and I know that other things
are not working well either.
A car stops
and someone comes running up to me
he tells me the ambulance is on the way
and that everything will be all right
and I know that what he is saying
is not exactly true
my addiction always fed me bullshit too
but she had a more convincing argument
and I never liked to be confused by facts anyhow.
A woman leaned over me and asked
if she could do anything for me
while we waited
I stopped and thought for a minute
while I listened to the driver of the pick-up
that had turned me to road kill
lie to the police
and say that we were in the middle of the road
I thought it would be a good idea
to smoke a cigarette
while I waited
for the ambulance
or to die
whichever came first
my lungs were okay.
The woman pulled one out of my pocket
put it in my mouth
and lit it
I sucked in the smoke
the dope man was dead
I did not remember what he looked like
the man who hit us was drunk
he was worried about the trouble he was in
my motorcycle was wrecked
my wife was home
waiting for me to bring the dope
I remembered that I had been dope sick
as I took another drag on the cigarette
and I realized that I wasn’t in a hurry anymore.
I took another drag
this was the best cigarette
I had ever smoked.
The Rocking Chair
By Marc D. Goldfinger
She was leaning over the railing at the luggage conveyor. That was the first time I had seen my mother in over two years. I had my luggage in my hand and came around her from behind. Surprised that she hadn’t seen me yet. Wondering why she hadn’t seen me waiting for the luggage by the belt.
I came up and tapped her on the shoulder.
“Oh. I didn’t see you,” she says. “Did you already get your luggage?”
I hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Mom. It’s so good to see you.”
“Did you get your luggage already,” she asked. “Dad is waiting outside.”
I carried my bag and walked next to her. The terminal doors swished open. The humidity stained the air. My father was waving to us. He was smiling but he looked sad to me. Something was different about my mother too.
Maybe it was just me. This was the first time I had seen them since I had kicked my heroin habit. After thirty-two years of shooting dope some things were bound to be changed.
Walked up to my father. Hugged him. He hugged me back. Everything felt strange. Maybe it was me.
“When is Stella and Irv coming in from the cruise?”, my mother asked. “Tomorrow night,” my father said.
It was a brand new Buick. My father always did like Buicks. It seemed like a long ride to the condo from the airport. Everything different than I remembered it.
We made small talk as we rode. The kind of talking that you don’t remember later. I felt like smoking a cigarette. I needed a meeting. I watched the Florida landscape slip by. A man with shabby clothing held a sign as he stood at the exit of the interstate.
The sign said, “Will work for food. Please help.”
￼I looked at all the cars around me, passing the man standing by the highway. The air- conditioning blew cool air on my face as we passed the man with the sign. The sweat was beaded on his face.
“When is Stella and Irv coming in from the cruise?” my mother asked. “Tomorrow night,” my father said.
They took me over to lunch at a kosher deli. More small talk. About different relatives. Who was sick. Who wasn’t sick. How hardly anyone went to the pool anymore. How everyone at the condo was getting older. Or dying.
I had a corned beef sandwich with pickles. My mother had a salad. My father had liver and onions. He only ate a little bit of it. I remembered he never really liked liver and onions that much.
When we got back to the condo I called the NA helpline. I needed a meeting. I felt numb and couldn’t process anything.
My father and I went out to the pool. We were the only ones there for a while. He had an old white sailor’s cap on. It was pulled down and it made him look like a boy with grey hair and wrinkles. He smiled with sad eyes as we talked.
One other person came out to the pool and talked with us for a while as we floated in the water. He had been a stockbroker. He still played with stocks and my father talked with him about the market.
I looked around the pool. There were six metal tables, about fifteen straight back chairs, and about 25 chaise lounges on the patio by the pool. There were close to eighty condos in this section of the complex. It was 92 degrees. There were three of us at the pool. Fifteen years ago, when my parents had first retired here the pool was always full.
A few days ago I heard there were some teenagers swimming at the pool. Someone called the police. They came and the teenagers left. On most days the water is still.
My father and I went back to change. Mom was sitting on the back porch in a rocking chair. She called out to us.
“When is Stella and Irv coming in from the cruise?” My father glanced at me.
￼“Tomorrow night,” he answered.
“Oh,” was what she said. And kept rocking.
I changed into dry clothes. My father went to lay down and take a nap in the living room. Other than when company came over that was the only time anyone ever used the living room.
I looked around the den. I had moved in there when I had first gotten out of prison. My parents had gone to the show the first night that I was there. My dad had an old prescription bottle filled with narcotics in the fridge and I ate them all. I passed out with a cigarette in my hand. Left a two inch burn in the den rug.
It was a new rug. It was ten years later.
That night, after supper, I went out to a meeting. No one showed up except for me. I read recovery literature and walked back to the condo. It was just me and my mind. The company couldn’t have been worse.
My parents were already in bed by the time I got home. I turned the light out and listened to the fan on the ceiling spin. It was right over the bed. I imagined what would happen if it were to fall on me while I slept, still spinning as it dropped. The imagination is limited when it comes to the real. Things get left out.
The morning light crept under the shade. I got up and went to the bathroom. Then I prayed and meditated. There was a meeting near the apartment today that I knew would happen but I was afraid anyway. For me, the alternative to meetings was unacceptable.
My mother was sitting on the back porch rocking in the chair. They had closed in the golf course out back with new condominiums. I missed the vegetation that had surrounded the course.
My father walked into the room.
“She rocks all the time since the sickness. She asks the same questions over and over. I don’t know what to do so I just let her rock.”
There were tears in his eyes.
I walked out to the porch and asked her if she wanted to come in for breakfast.
￼“In a little while,” she said.
There were tears in her eyes.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m all right,” she said.
She didn’t look directly at me. She stared out at the golf course. There were so many tears in her eyes that I didn’t know what was keeping them from spilling down her cheeks.
I put my hand on her shoulder.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Let me rock,” was what my mother said.
I walked back into the den. My father was sitting there. There were tears behind my sunglasses that he couldn’t see. I felt an impulse to keep them from running down my cheek. My father was crying.
“Let her rock,” was all he said. So we did.
for Mary Esther
One bright brown eye peeks
out at the world, still dark
with the shade of mourning. She
is not sure whether it is
safe to throw off her cover,
come out to dance with
the uncertainty of day.
Life is like that
sometimes, on other days
the sun is blinding through
the Easter window of the room
she now shares with the man
who loves her. He smiles at
the shadows cast by life until
they back off, grins down
the throat of hard-luck
until it coughs up sunlight
and then he kisses
her forehead, says, “It’s all
right now, breakfast is ready.”
© Marc D. Goldfinger
Road Scribe of America ™
BSA 441 by Marc “Moshe” D. Goldfinger ©
Silver and yellow, dragon colors,
one pounding piston to rattle
your bones. Shattered more than
one license plate, 288 pounds of
power, muscle machine, lifted that
front wheel like it had wings, sweet
machine with a decompression lever,
to start pull in lever, one down stroke
kick, then, as you go for the lightning
midway through the second kick hard,
let go of the lever, and if it didn’t kick
you back, you rode, if it kicked you
flew. Anyone who asked to “take it
for a spin”, I’d shut the machine down,
step back and say, “If you can start it, you
can take it for a ride.” Most times I’d
just sit back and watch as that 441
kicked them like a mule. I knew
only a biker could start that machine,
took me a while; I remember, in the
shop when I bought it brand new
the big bearded mechanic showed me
what to do and then stood there smiling for
a half-an hour while the bike schooled me.