father son relationship
|I've often made revisions at that stage that turned out to be mistakes because I wasn't really in the rhythm of the story anymore. I see a little bit of writing that doesn't seem to be doing as much work as it should be doing, and right at the end I will sort of rev it up. But when I finally read the story again it seems a bit obtrusive … There should be a point where you say, the way you would with a child, this isn't mine anymore. [via Paris Review] Alice Munro|
The officer hesitated a moment because she didn’t accompany him, only led him to the threshold of the expansive, hollow room with a rumpled bed in the near corner; a crucifix on the wall; at the far end, the small balcony; blossoms in a jar. He went past her toward the heavy sound of rain for now it was pouring.
Along the roadside to Phnom Pehn the water buffalo hauls up its submerged self and brays. It’s Monday morning and here I am in Long Beach, California, awakening like that living tractor from sleepy mud a half-globe away. I fled across oceans and came to this place entirely by fate. My language, displaced as well. Day by day I investigate the chattering words making up this other-worldly domain. And month after month my knowledge of the American language grows. This war in 1975 has sliced its way into me, cut me off, unmoored me from my known world of language, of writing, of being.
“A countryman. I can tell. The smell of lemon grass and fish bone. This morning’s noodles.”
I smile, sampeah and look at the floor.
“Our diet follows us wherever we go doesn’t it, old man. Don’t our habits die hard, old man.”
It is he. The disrespect. The insults. The taking on of the worst parts of the West. Somehow it is comforting to know he hasn’t changed.
“You know all our wanderings of the khmer people. I have changed so much as I know you have.
Crouched beside the deserted highway Jake Eki sifted saltbush through his fist looking for a shift of wind. From under his wide-brim he gazed back at Jurrah Balbuk who nodded once.
Today would be hot between Hay and One Tree along Cobb Highway, a distance of thirty miles. Eki wondered if this was the way it felt to his father 50 years ago in 1942. Would his father have bent to a similar patch of Aussie ground somewhere gauging the temperature? The ground would have sent this commonwealth’s fever up through a boot, up through one’s femur and hip bone right into one’s blood. Same heat, same arid air as now. This was forever outback under the searing sun.
Once a week I jog the lake before work to loosen and calm myself; I’m the doctor of Infectious Disease Section 237. It is a Thursday. I park my vehicle and gather my hair into a pony tail with the clip my daughter has given me. I take off running. It is 5:35 a.m.; I know because I look at my watch implant within my wrist.
At the end of the loop around the lake I stumble across the body. Her feet with slippers stick out from the bramble. She is still alive. It is a woman with a lot of boneyness about her. There is no one else around Lake Merritt’s edge to ask for help. Her slippers are worn bare and shredded by travelling through this area of grass, field briar and low sage. I think how resilient the human body is to have come thus far. In the distance the government hospital has a speck of light on its glass wall.
Peggy awoke and in that moment of hope heard a musical phrase befitting of Albert, raising distinct obbligatos she shouldn’t miss. To her, failure to realize the phrase was no option. So, she stumbled to keyboard and pencil, tried to repeat it by notation; but, Peggy Ohara couldn’t. Within the former Village cold water walk-up, full of blue skylight and face brick, there was a dingy convertible couch, a Yamaha, a krinkly black metallic music stand, a radio blaring the news of 2004 and somewhat of an empty kitchen.
he had come from a marriage in which he was the young man and now he was the old man which he deemed appropriate at this time in his life.
In the morning something struck her down. She was in bed when the two musical phrases haunted her head and wouldn’t leave. She went to the keyboard and tried to repeat them so she might annotate; but, Janet Oyama couldn’t exactly recover them from sleep. She tried different ways, bits and pieces of Shosty she’d known played backwards, a fugue in A major forwards; then, resigned, she played common songs she knew and tried invented ones.
the hunters had returned and put their shotguns lined up against the opposite wall from which they had come in. It was not by design they did this but rather by an unconscious consensus, each following each as if they had no choice to deviant. It was Tolgard first then Adams, the second and they all followed suit.
cover with lyrics
Holton Middlebrook wanted in on anyone’s gravitational field. Anyone’s. connection to the core of earth. And who among us hasn’t? Sometimes in the haze of night he’d go and stand in the middle of the room trying to gauge if the pull on the mass of him were different from last night’s pull; is this the gentle course of a dreamer! It would mean his human heart was attracted to earth and the earth to his’n. No dream. Gravity!
Holton Middlebrook wanted in on anyone’s gravitational field, anyone’s. Who among us hasn’t? Sometimes in the haze of midnight he’d get out of bed, go and stand in the center of his moonlit bookish room trying to determine if the pull on the mass of him were different from last eve’s. This, the course of a gentle dreamer? No, no. It would be more than vital to know if his organic heart were attracted to earth and the earth to his own; i.e. if someone’s fleshy heart were out there calling out to his’n. His response guaranteed. ‘Tweren’t some misty sleep-walking land of Nod. No. A call to Gravity!
I had to let the social-distance police in. I was, after all, living on their grounds, Kirkland Hospital. Your thoughts on this?
“Mr. Middlebrook? Holton Middlebrook?” as I was cuffed. I did not answer , they could see from my id card in my wallet. It was me. What was left of HM as I like to refer to myself. HM. his majesty.
“He doesn’t look like a Middlebrook.”
“He’s happy. Are you not happy, sir?”
“I am hapa. Yes, extremely. Happy.”
In 2020 we had licked the covid 19 but then came 20, 21, 14. Every year came a new strain. Dogs carried them. Man’s best friend. We destroyed all vestiges of home pets. Still, the wilderness existed. All things feral were in the non-cities. It was the things out there, outside the city limits, beyond our imagination. They were the enemy. The virus is not bacteria. You can reason with bacteria. We have a link to bacteria. We can grow them in a petri dish. We can eradicate with an germicide. They know their place. We humans are made up of cells, living growing entitys. We and bacteria share life in common. Unlike viruses. They aren’t living. They live off us. We exist and viruses are along for the ride.
I held the coat open for Rebecca Wo. She slipped her bare left arm through to the sleeve. I came about; and she, following, half-turned to me, then from me. Her right arm cocked back this second time seeking its rest in the hollow tube of her other sleeve. I assisted, lifting the collar at a slight angle. She didn’t shrug the way people usually do at the end of donning a coat; but, instead, let it settle on her without adjusting; she, both of us, intimately dumbstruck. I thought to smile while eyes searched and searched the other to make room for what had never been before. It only took a moment.
The passersby didn’t even have a chance to run. The explosion at the front of the beauty salon took them all. Shreds of what looked like burnt white rags hung on telephone wires. Michiko Uranai saw events long before they happened. The previous night she had tried to stay awake and not have another nightmare; but, her head nodded and before she knew it prediction swallowed consciousness, a horror she didn’t need.
“Go and see Doctor Mori, dear. Saw-bones helped me with some knock-out drops. That’s all you need and you’ll be right as rain. Here...”
Uranai took the offered business card and examined the printed address. The Mori medical office was down on Jackson not far from the Seattle rail station. She looked back at her companion as the DeSoto taxi sped the both of them to the hairdressers.
“Thanks, Bett, but I really don’t believe in shrinks.”
“Oh, but he’s cute too on top of everything,” Betty Taniguchi said pushing the sliding glass between driver and passenger section closed.
“Is he? What would your husband say?” Uranai hoped the conversation would end there.
“Prude,” Betty pursed her lips and smiled back. “Thing is, I appreciate what life offers,” she winked at the driver in the rear view as Uranai watched her re-apply lipstick. The driver wouldn’t be able to hear.
It wasn’t that Uranai hated Betty; but, it always seemed to her that her older campanion’s beauty got in the way of her ability to think deep. Uranai saw lust whereas Betty didn’t. In some ways Betty was much younger than she.
The wheels on the taxi went round and around until they arrived at the hairdressers. Betty’s fingers alighted on the chromed door handle.
“What is it now. Not another of your visions I hope. Oh, not another lesson on morals...”
“Just stay with me in the car for a sec, please.”
The blast was such that their cab’s windshield bloomed into a fractured cobweb. Their cab driver slumped against the wheel; the horn went off. Betty clung to Uranai.
Joey Ohara imagined he could get to ‘the place’ if he were given time. Mamoud’s eye floated above him while Mckinley’s vertical thumb turned horizontal as if asking for a hitch-hike to no particular destination. Their craft hovered above a field that ached to be reaped. It could be that the harvesting had awaited Joey’s arrival. His father and mother were already out there gathering in the field of strawberries. Joey gazed upon them from above. With their arched spines in a stoop and their slow crawl down the rows of brilliant red fruit, an immense tenderness for his parents fell over Joey Ohara, a tenderness he had not felt for them in real life. Joey wondered why. He awoke. They were still in transit.
The copter w
twin daughters come into the scene
this is for daughters of Lovita yes
You have taken my art from me.
As it is now in the year 2050, you’d be hard pressed to find someone, anyone, who would remember the “Daughters of Lovita”.
Today if one should say, “Daughters of Lovita” no one would know what was meant.
One day governor Fujimori came by to garner votes. He came to Lovita’s daughters because the bakery had become famous. What better way than to spread politico-ethics
i saw them coming for me a mile away. them with leather boots and smelling of old spice mrs. stewart's bluing.
I picked up certain things from my father which I did not know I had done at the time. For instance, an ability to tell if a person were about to die. And I would tell this person, as my father would have were he still alive, in the kindest way, of course, what I sensed. I know you think this odd for most people do already possess this sense inside already. We’re just not prone to express it.
My father did nont think much of my ability. His belief was that his daughter was a blabber mouth and left it at that. But let me say how important it was in my development as a woman of this world dominated by men.
What we do lasts forever
Some story about carrying a roll of carpet:
sprinklers give their hatchet sound
DON'T GO NEAR A CLIFF. DON'T PLAY WITH MERCURY. DON'T PLAY WITH SMOKE. DON'T PLAY WITH DRY ICE.
“Still missing her are we, Jack?” Christopher asks. Must be he’s still a little wasted after having celebrated his unearthed T. Rex. He’s still dressed in his field gear. He’s wavering on his feet. I‘m guessing he’s wondering if he’s being inappropriate. If so, that makes the two of us. After all we’ve been through in the past, I shouldn’t leave him stranded on a seashore. I should give him the courtesy of a straight answer...
“Maybe, not as much. She was with us and then she disappeared. What could be more human? We’re only made for a some time, Christopher.”
I’m hanging for his response to take us beyond just ourselves, or something a little bit further between us if need be. He looks over at his wife and kids playing down near the makeshift stage; then, he gazes down back at his own big feet in sway.
“Yes, but perhaps not entirely.”
We’re only looking at the bottom half of each other, not caring to seek out each other’s face at this particular moment. He seems to strengthen and loom; he offs the strap from about his neck and shoulder and extends the canteen of water to me. I can accept this gravity. I unscrew the tin cap and bring the spout to my lips for a pure cool chug. Head tilted back, the sky’s an unlimited blue.
It was in the garage. The garage itself separated from house by about 40 feet and grass sprouted in the space between. Sometimes the boy would make his way to the garage with his fingers out stretched in front, hand wavered in the air like caneless blind men walking unaccustomed terrain. The boy's face tilted up skyward, eyes widened waiting for more light so it might pour down his way. Didn't matter a moon, half or whole, because he couldn't see anyway. Tall office buildings surrounded the house and garage and blocked light so it didn't matter that way either.
The mask was held high on a peg that evening in winter. The father had gone to shovel snow at the Atkinson's. The boy put the mask on too late. Once the dark gave way it was alright. Just like a loosening , a breathing out at the moment. He lay on his side with the welder's mask on. His head piece seemed big for his body with his hands tucked between his legs. Asleep or dead couldn't be known for sure. Though few deadmen die with their hands couched so. He was on his side too when his father got home.
From Samuel and Douglas
My father and I have come to an understanding. We have decided not to rob anymore banks. This conclusion was not based on the immorality of it but by sound and practical judgement of the situation. The last robbery was uneventful and lusterless but in its totality something of the guts of the event was lost on us. At first I thought it was just me. But as I talked with my father it became apparent that he too shared this feeling. It was as if darkening thunder blocked our momentum. We had lost it, the drive, the excitement, whatever you to name it. We are not religious men. He had never brought me up that way. Nor was grandpa pathfrom what I can tell. Grandpa had come from the East. The ship that he came on was called the Wind. Japan at the turn of the century lacked the mystery. It only had Admiral Perry as legend. Grandpa was converted to Christianity when upon setting his foot ashore the Salvation Army gave him soup and bread. It was cold that year and grandpa was thankful for the warm jacket that he got from them. As he made his way up canal street a voice stopped him.
"Please, Sir. Can you spare a dime for a loaf of bread."
-------------------------------the sleet came wondering where i had been
They had given me a journey just like that , right off the bat. So i took what they gave and ran to Yakima and
I'll tell you this much. I'm sick and tired of the Middle-Agers coming around and doing anything they want. Isn't it because of them we had that useless Renaissance? Useless! They're not like us at all. Every Time ship that brought them over should be destroyed. God's sake. One evening guess what. I caught them roasting a pig in my back yard. No sir. Send them back to their TimeSlot I say. The sooner, the better. Whenever they're around how creepy I feel. And how they smell! Even their clothes reek. Of garlic. Of sweat. Of every body function you could imagine. God. And that's another thing. They say we worship the same God. No. I don't think so. Whatever god they worship is not of this age. And their music! My God! If I never hear a sackbut the rest of my life, I'll die a happy woman.
Whose idea was it anyway to trade our timeslot with theirs. Wrong. Wrong.
Winter 1886 The Foal
I am Cree, all Cree, Plains Cree. Thought cannot remove this nor can proclamation. I drag the barely living body of my foal across the frozen water of the giant Milk River. All that remains in both of us is The Main Thing, all else stripped and cast from us. I have been lost 7 days. I speak but my speech goes to no one. It comes back to me in whispers and haunts my chest. Hunger comes. So, I eat ice to fill hunger. The dead mare's milk I carry close to my chest. I took this as she lay dying. I feed the foal but the milk will soon be gone.
I am Cree. When I return they will ask "who is this"? They will not see beneath the mask of starvation. They will summon my mother. Will even she know?
I have travelled far since the Incident at Frog River near the Church. Almost 8 years of running with the tribe. Yesterday I came upon mare and foal. What had placed them in my path? From a distance the foal rose and fell on stick legs like a wounded spider near it's nest. I spoke over the mare and knew it was my turn to carry the foal, to take the place of mare. Yes, even at the cost of being caught by white men. They will say, "See this young fool Cree who tried to run with this burden that weighed him down like a stone in water." Once I carried the foal in my arms as women bring branches in for fire. Twice I carried the foal across my shoulders until shoulders ached and cried for rest. Then I dragged my foal across ice and snow using the fallen branches of the pine until we slept under their sweet cover. Rest only deceives us. The Voice of the Main Thing said go forward. Do not rest. Continue for the foal is you.
I was told this: Wandering Spirit, the war chief, changed night into day and scattered the 5 warriors. And I was told this: In time past all the Cree sought was comfort, what the Cree knew. But Wandering Spirit taught the Cree what comfort was. That it was but flesh. But was Wandering Spirit right to take 5 warriors to the Church beside the River? All six of them strode into the silence, into the place where the Cree had seen once from a distance.
I dreamed this: I saw the boots of Wandering Spirit on the wood floor of the Church. The boots do not move; a running horse on them. Words are spoken. They ask for a man named Quinn. The boots move outside and wait in the grass. White men's boots echo on the Church steps and all the warriors fire with their guns until Quinn and the 2 priests are dead.
I was told this and dreamed this: After the killing there is one more killing. They go to the town of Frog River by its stream and all 6 kill as many whites as they have bullets. Except for 2 women and the one boy. And for all this the 6 Cree will suffer. Later the boy will be hunted down by his kind not to be killed but to be taken back; but, if he is taken back, he will be killed in spirit for becoming Cree.
I was told this and dreamed this: My name is Cameron. I recall this only from a voice screaming the name behind me. Then I am flung up to the back of a horse beside a horseman. Screaming fades. I am held in place by an arm tatooed with the image of a horse in full gallop.
If I bear the galloping horse on my arm, am I not Cree from the first?
If I can slay Bear with a short knife, I become Bear, knife and myself all three. Where did I learn this? Did I not have this in my heart from the beginning?
Ahead of me the pure eyes of the land look down. I am blinded by snow. Only patches of sight guide me. For three days have I carried my foal unable to look back to see if it is still alive. There at horizon's edge is the familiar. But it is a familiarity without origin. It is only a feeling as such. Familiarity with no recall to the past. Only a feeling of having been. I go up to the familiar and it is the same mare that I took the milk and foal from. I have circled for days. lost.
I hear outside of me the close call of wolves. The mare's body has served its feast to many and the wolf returns for more. It has my foal in its eye as it has me also. Slowly the pack surrounds us. I am at my knees fallen with only a knife. The wolf turns, leaps towards me. The shot catches him as he leaps. The pack scatters as a figure runs through snow towards us.
"Cameron. Cameron Quinn." The figure stops away from me, afraid to approach. "I'll be bringing you back.Look at me, boy." He comes.
One hawk circles above the skyline out of reach. I am steady. I am Cree.
....comes back to the mare in a circle. bloody mess, the wolf attacks, shot by man, uncle, Cameron, "Cameron , Quinn. It's your uncle . I'm bringing you back." " Look at me , son." I do not answer. One hawk circles above the skyline out of reach. My foal is dead. I am steady. I am Cree.
We Forgot How Tall the Pines Were
The Chevy stalled near the reservation out near Klamath. It was winter and it seemed the only thing alive were the pines. There was no snow but the cold sliced right through any jacket. They looked for anything burnable.
"Pop, I'm beginning to figure the turn back there was the wrong one."
"Yep. Might be."
"Should've listened to you."
"Hand me the matches, Jeffrey."
You know how nightfall catches up to you during winter, sneaks up on you? It's unlike summertime when you could be waiting for dusk to happen and the air to cool and you welcoming it. It comes gradual. Winter is different especially in the northwest where the word 'night fall' seems appropriate. Times like this a lighted match seems magical.
I put enough branches into the fire until the fire came to the height of a standing man.
"That's enough, Jeffrey.", he said with his hand on the top of a bundle of branches I had gathered on the last soiree into the nearby trees.
"Do you remember being here? I mean this exact spot? Yet, how could it be?"
" No, I don't. Am I supposed to, Pop?"
"I don't suppose. Forget it. Silliness is all."
It got me to thinking,though. Maybe I had been here. A long way back. I had to sit and think about it. When I looked up, Pop was looking at me kinda funny as if something were about to turn right now and neither of us knew what it was or what it might be about. He looked away into the fire.
Maybe,just maybe, I remember a woman who bathed me. But I can't make out a face. It's such that whatever emotion was once there attached did not reside in me any longer. Might be protective. I don't know.
"I want to tell you about your mother. She and I met in Klamath Falls. When I say in it really was in. It was in the Falls we met. So what I'm about to tell you is not as much for you as for her."
"I don't get it."
"Your mothers been through hard times. I would say near death. Once they labelled her crazy. Did you know that? No, you didn't. That's why we left that reservation and come here. " Pop took a draw from his pipe. " "Didn't help though." What came next in her mind was the World War II and the Japanese. Let me put it this way. She became a Christian. Now don't laugh. She became one. She and her Mom went on a picnic with the church when suddenly out the sky come this tan baloon billowing in the summer wind and KABOOM. The whole picnic party dead.
"They make fun of me at school. They call me half-breed."
" No. Just remember you're a breed and a half. It doesn't make you better only more."
"Ok. I don't know if it helps."
"Not supposed to. It's just there."
I took my hand and noted the redness of it and the being away from fire.
Our desire for one good Haunting.
Something is desired within us for an unknown the traces of which are evidenced by a glossary of which there is apparently no text. But it is not a positive apparent only an unseen one.
Some of us if we are lucky or doomed have gotten that haunting. And now stand cursed or accursed with the knowledge of a non-refundable, lifetime guarantee of a haunting. One good haunting is what we get. Maybe its guilt.
You wait. Watch the fog. See how it lays. It is the dangerous time. This is the dangerous tide. A man's life can be taken like this. Swallowed whole in this bay. I do not know of your people but I know mine. They have eaten oysters for centuries. Once a Tlingit came to me in a dream. She said in a girls voice that
Put down the amulet.
The beach goes right and left, in front the ocean, at my feet sea foam from the tide washes my feet.
The Sorensens no longer live in that suburb of Pasadena way up in the mountains but they did back when I visited. It was hot the Saturday when I came to see them on my own. We thought we knew them. But we didn't did we? Do you remember? Give me your hand. You can't? You're sleeping. Checking to make sure. So, here's the story. It's like yesterday. Although you said you couldn't go, I started the way we always do with the sunroof open. By the time we reached the hills it started into night and I tried to close the sunroof but couldn't, Everythings falling apart on the Chevy Astro so the sunroof was just another thing to add to the list. I was tempted to step on the gas to get to the Sorensen's cabin before the sun set because if you remember there is no street lights up in the hills. But I didn't make it. The sun went down and it was all I could do to hold to the road until the left headlight went out and then I knew I was in trouble. A skunk or something crossed the road and I hit it. It wasn't a big bump but good enough to make me swerve so the Chevy went over. When I came to I was bleeding from my forehead down to the chin. It was itchy like a tickle so I scracthed and I was surprised when my fingers came away wet and bloody. Now what?
If there is a place to calm down and breathe I thought, this is the time to do it. So I took a long gulp of air and leaned back even though I was mounted sideways in my truck with the seat belt still on. I was in a heck of a mess. How did I get here? What time was it? Where was I ? I started with the first. The Sorensens had emailed me the day before with a threat. Come to our house they said, at once. We've something to ask of you. If you dont come you will be sorry. We did not like the Sorensens or at the least they gave us a creepy feeling. There was something wrong with them. I couldn't even put my finger on it. It was just as likely that they thought the same of us. I'm about to tell you something I've been kicking around. Not that this makes sense but you'd figure since we both have the same amount of syllables in our last names we'd have some kind of kinship going. Yamada, Sorensen. Sorensen, Yamada. Well, that's stupid enough. I mean the kinship angle. Yeah it's me. Ends up we both hate each other. What gets me is that both sides are cordial to each other, send each other Christmas cards (not gifts, no) , Marcy calls Mildred every once in awhile, but still. Still, there's this unknownable atmosphere covers us. And it's not my imagination. If you're reading this and you're white you'll take this one way. Whereas if not, you'll take it another. Either way, I got tired of hanging sidewise in that wreck of a Chevy. I'm bleeding , yeah. What I'm thinking about now is what happens if my gas tank cathches fire. Goodbye, Yamada. I crawl and crawl and crawl my way out. I bleed more but I'm not weak yet. This ia all the fault of the Sorensens, I thought. If I get out of this alive, I'm setting fire to the Sorensens. I don't have a watch but just before I leave my death trap of a truck I noted the broken face of the clock 9:45 before it faded out. So that solves the 2nd question easily enough. People keep telling you what you should think, what you should do, what you should know. 9:45. Who says? Why so exact? What possible difference could it make. Time can stand still. We all know that. I'm doing that right now , right here by telling you this story. In fact even writing about it, time's at a dead standstill. But keep this in mind. There's no time like right now and its's at a halt. That's what I was thinking crawling around. No one's coming to get me , especially the Sorensens, on this back heap of a raod and I don't expect it so I doubted hope and didn't care about not hoping. It's tiring to hope. I was thinking, am I going to make it in time to get out of this mess? Can I avoid being blown up in the wreckage that is my truck? Who cares. I'm going to savor this moment no matter what. Blood dries all down the rivulet that goes from the top of my scalp to my cheek. I was angry enough about this to go on. They say the Japanese are good at revenge, the payback, the tooth for a tooth. But then so are the Danes. Wasn't Hamlet from Denmark? Our mottos are Forgive but don't Forget. Look at me. Am I making connections with those stinking no good dumb Swedes, the Sorensens? So the full moon was out. I rested against against this tree stump. Stump, I said? It's been new sawed. Is this forrested acreage or what? Maybe harvesters will come on by. Yeah right. It's 10pm , Dummy. For all I know I could've anywhere. And this brings me to my final point. You know this but I'm going to say it again. I am a Christian. I bet I have baffled all my Buddhist ancestors, all my Buddhistic genes inside my DNA, baffled them all the way up to this place, this tree stump that I rest on. I find that it is not a full tree in the prime of its growth but it was been hacked and sawed off its foundation, taken from its roots. Yes, maybe the harvested lumber will serve another house somewhere in surburbia no doubt, But, can I grieve here for a moment. Grant me that respite, God. Where am I? I can't be that far from the Sorensens. Striking distance. So I said to myself maybe I should go back to the car, find a rag and empty bottle, soak the rag in gasoline, take it with me to the Sorensons. That's what I did. I was thinking once there we'll have a blast.
I crawl some, walk some, sweat alot. I breach the top of the ridge and look down. There's the Sorensen house. Swiming pool. Watered Lawn. Opulent compared to our place. That's another thing. Sorensen's no smarter than me. Yet, he's gotten on better in life than I have. He's a Viking. He knows agression. It's in his blood. Murdered Christian civilizations are in his genes, if not in his dreams. It's unfair. History repeats itself. Norsemen slay Christians. Norsemen 2 , Christians 0. Whereas I have done nothing personally I get victimized for all the ills upon proclaiming myself to be Christian. Unfair. OK, Back to the story. My shirts a bloody mess but I don't care. Im bare footed but I don't care. I feel weak but I don't care. I'm charging the Sorensen home. My molotov cocktail is lit. Against the dark woods and the darker night my lonely flame of rag and bottled gasoline traces a loping path toward the open clearing of lawn and home. Hide your families, all you Northmen, Yamada is here. But then I noticed something in the driveway. Isn't that your car? But you said you didn't wish to come with me. What are you doing here? And what about those other cars? Mom? Uncle Yosh? I walked slower and slower toward the house as the motion floodlights brighten up the entire grounds, the front door opens. and the whole bunch of you, in paper hats and blew paper horns, yelled Happy Birthday, Jeff. It was the Sorensens who later called an ambulance for a feeble man.
This is a dangerous life. Things are left unsaid and undone. You expire. On the side of a hill shirley Taniguchi and her father crouched together in the newfallen leaves. It was their blanket. At one point Shirley turns to her father, "Tell me again about the time grandma and you decided to promise each other never to cook spinach." "Did I tell you that? Sheree, we got more important thinga at the moment." "No, we don't". It's all we have , at the moment." He stopped scanning the sky for aircraft. He decided she was probably right. "Grandma had a gift. I guess you could say she was prophetic though she wouldn't say so herself." Shirley sensed a far-off beating of air, a vibration through her before actual sound. "Grandma and me had arguments all the time about the emabarassment caused by that gift. Mom, why can't you be like other people with their feet planted.. One time she saw a cliff before the cliff was there. Another time people came unannounced but she knew and had prepared the food they liked.."
Sometimes we are handed a journey and don't know it.
how would she find her way home to bed if I did not leave this light on for her?
the face that appears on the kneecaps of women--Mute Violin
It's November when the throat turns dry from indoor heat and nothings's left on branches except one brown leaf that will fall tomorrow. Tod Egashira in brown boots wades into the snow with shovel and salt thinking to get a grip underfoot . He's not against snow just the discomfort it brings.
He thinks about the last request she made.
"Buy me a mute violin."
"What is it?"
"It's an outline of a real violin so it won't make noise. It's meant to be used in practice for the fingers and ears too because its light on them."
"Never heard of such a thing."
It was then he felt arms wrap around him like they were meant to.
When it was still early morning, Josh Takagi, at 44, woke up and opened the front door of the old house in Seattle. He opened it wide and took in the sunshine. He angled his bespeckled face up. Every day since August the sky had started blue, cloudless and waiting for him.
He turned to look back into the interior - the overstuffed chair, the pillow on it, the melamine table next to both. He faced forward again and took two steps down from the porch and sat so that his left knee rested in the cradle of his entwined fingers. Josh leaned back took off his glasses and put his face to the sun, closed his eyes. He wished for someone from the neighborhood to appear on a front door step as he did now; someone from across the way, down the street, from anywhere.
"I'll bring you breakfast. No. Stay there," said the voice from the interior, breaking his musing.
"No, no," he answered.
"I can do this. I want to do this," the voice said.
His twin sister appeared in the doorway from which he had come. The spokes of her wheelchair glittered in the patch of sunlight filtering through the elm in front of the house as she took the rough threshold. She had folded a blanket of red plaid over her knees. And on top of the blanket, two small fluted bowls of vanilla ice cream.
"And good morning. This is for you and this is for me," she said as she handed up one of the bowls to her brother.
He was standing now. "You still remember eating ice cream for breakfast that time they left us alone in the house with Uncle Jack?" The thought of his sister, Rose, juggling to get the ice cream carton from the top freezer dawned on him. Her wheelchair would be inching further and further away on its own as she dug through the frozen carrots and peas.
"Tell me how you got this," he said, with a slight lift of his bowl skyward.
"I can stand but not for very long. Don't worry, Joshi. I can take care of myself."
After Josh brought Rose back to the old house to live with him, soon the thought of his life apart from family receded. Their parents had been dead a year. They had willed the house to him. Rose then insisted on returning to the old house now that the way was clear. The ice cream felt good and cold against the roof of his mouth slipping past his tongue, down his throat, doing its creamy numbing.
"You were always the adventurous one," he said.
"And I've got the evidence to prove it," and she slapped the armrest of the wheelchair.
"Thanks for the ice cream breakfast." He couldn't say he resented her return; but, he resisted it. To take care of someone all over again was too much.
"The house brings back memories, Joshi."
"I never asked you what you did after you left."
"What do you think I did? I went to Uncle Jack and Auntie Karen's. You could have called, Joshi."
"That was back in the day, Rose. Besides, Didn't I say it was OK for you to come live with me?"
"No. I'm not talking now. I'm talking then. Back then you could have called, even once. I wouldn't expect Mom and Dad to, but you...I needed support"
Josh went inside leaving Rose to the baking sunshine. It was cooler in the interior of the old house. She wheeled slowly in over the rough shod threshold. They didn't look at each other and it remained, this shallow pool of rain after the storm.
Along the walls of the house were photos of relatives, of friends and of a family passionate for big game, deer hunting and camping. Why it was so, no one in the family thought to ask. There were antlers about the old house to be shown to a curious visitor, none of them mounted. Some visitors wouldn't understand, think it odd.
Every deer season the Kitagi clan would be drawn to the woods near the Olympics. Uncles and aunts, nieces, nephews all would camp in deep valleys near the rivers, Deshutes or Nasqually, out in the peninsula. They pitched tents and gathered wood for bonfires whose sparks rose into the cold night sky like short lived fireflies then the sparks vanished. The smoke scent of pine and alder layered on everything around, even the skin, clothes and bedding until dawn broke.
"Do your remember when Dad first took us to the mountains to hunt deer?" she asked.
It was an October deer season when he suffered the stuffiness of a long sinus condition. He was 12. Yes, he remembered. He insisted he was fine for he didn't want to miss the hunt. But as important, he didn't want Rose to better him. The hunt seemed imbued in all the Takagi's.
One evening came the killing. The blacktail had been dragged by its legs through the light snow into the open. They had gutted the deer back at the kill site.
Rose and Josh had been taught on the 30-aught-6. They were trained to keep the stock of the rifle square to the shoulder and squeeze. They had been taught to brace. But during the stalk Josh, for some reason, could not set right. His shoulder bruised as the bullet left the muzzle. Even the crack of the rifle sounded wrong. He missed the deer completely. They walked further on. When it was her turn, Rose hit her blacktail. Their father dressed the game in the open with a small razor sharp knife.
How perfect the deer seemed before the gutting, Josh thought. The agility of the thing killed was still there before him even in its death. Its pure taught hide seemed groomed for this moment and for one moment more. Now, up close, the curvature of its body was sleek and almost bird-like without a hint of ruffle. It was meant to be in flight. Living was a mere gallop away.
Rose and Josh knelt on both their knees and watched as their father removed the guts. Josh thought of his twin with her short daikon legs as they knelt. How could she have gained this and not he? Then with index and middle finger the father dipped into blood and marked Rose. Josh saw the cross drawn on her forehead, saw his sister close her eyes and he imagined what she must feel smeared with blood. He closed his eyes too. But the blooding would not come for him.
"I remember, Rose, your first kill," Josh said.
"Was it? My first kill? I forgot."
If he remembered, how could she forget.
The sun had gotten brighter. It would be a hot day in Seattle.
"Take me to the valley, Joshi."
"Because we can." She wheeled away from him. "Because you can. So take me to the valley before I can't any longer, take me to the valley."
There was nothing in the valley now. They should wait until October when snow came if they wished to remember.
"No, take me now."
"I won't. It's stupid."
"I'll take a cab then," Rose said.
"It'll cost extra for a wheely like you."
"You're always like this, always scared. Why can't you just get up and leave all this," With her hands she swept the room with its pictures, its furniture, its antlers scattered about.
"Well, what about you." He moved forward to her. "Leaving anytime you feel like it. Anywhere you damn well pleased." He moved in unaware of it. "It's exactly why they got rid of you, threw you out. "
"Because that's how real people should live, on a whim." Rose backed up and swivelled near the open front door. Wheel and spoke jostled across the threshold, tipped and the carriage went down. Rose was thrown out of the seat. In the hot sun the free turning wheel sparkled and racheted.
She tried to get to her feet by rising to hands and knees but she couldn't.
He would not help. He seemed stunned or vacant. He watched. He could not feel anything in himself or explain why he felt the way he did.
She crawled toward him off her pretty daikon legs that shown the pasty white of a thing recently gutted yet persistent. But he would not have it.
"Wheelchair, Joshi. My chair. Please. Give me back my chair," she whispered as if she'd once been queen.
He righted the wheelchair and with an open palm scooted the chair to her. It bumped her softly on the upper arm as she poised on all fours. She shifted and rested her elbows in the seat with her hands folded together, still on her knees.
"Why?" she was crying.
"I don't know why"
"What have I ever done to you?" she asked.
Josh remembered their father not as a strict man. But he had to be father and mother after their mother died.
"Joshi, go cut flowers for your mother."
"Don't be disrespectful of her."
"No." And Josh leapt from the bedroom window and ran to the park and beyond to the tree grove and stayed in a pine tree; the sap stuck to his corduroy cuffs. Rose had to come and get him down. And Rose was the one to cut off the ruined cuffs.
Someone was singing and saying goodnight to him at once. This is the way he would sing to his children and they, theirs. It was not of any song in particular but the notion of singing and saying goodnacht was there and distinctive it was. Once he believed it to be universal and the ordinary way of people and of no importance but later he learned, after his marriage and the birth of their children, that she did not think to sing at night. It was not of such importance that he might mention it to her but it wore into him, this not singing at dusk. I have to make absolutely sure....yes....she's gone.
So it came down to the point of not having the opportunity to take his son out on his birthday. The boy and he would go somewhere determined by his father. It would always be outdoors and because it was in February it was usually cold. They went to Point Reyes once. Camped out in the cold. There was a fire going but at about 3am it was smouldering on the beach side. Sometimes the shore would crash so loud he could not hear anyones approach. At these moemnts he missed his son and wished him close. He would like to make up for something but then he knew there would always be this missing adventure that he and his son would have gone on. He had missed his son's birthday. But what was it that caused his to miss it? What on earth could have been so important ? He could not remember for the life of him. It was a business meeting of some kind . So one day he forgot to whish his son happy birthday.
"Maybe it wasn't such a hot idea. My bringing you out here." Mel Arai said to his boy, Roger.
"I needed to tell you something. I saw it plain as day back in the city but out here now. It's hard to retrieve that sort of thing once its gone. I don't get it."
"I know the feeling , Dad. Like something got out of the trap. It escapes you. Back there is was all nice and neat. Then you come out..."
"Well, these days everything does. Tell me how old you are again."
"32 divorced. And I don't mean to say that to get under your skin. I'm Just saying, OK?
The firelight had gone down and now it was coming up dark
"I need to put more wood in the fire."
"No, you don't. Leave it alone."
"You were always cold. What changed?"
"Don't know. Age , I guess."
"Dad I need to give you something."
"Oh yeah? Where?"
Every spring Mel would take Roger to the woods
"Night is when the animals come, like the dark is the time for its actors to bring forth their talents. It's opening curtain for all the unknown creatures of this world and the next. " He talked creepy like that sometimes.
From the ridgeline to the bottom of the ravine, the whole of the river bank was bathed in cold shadows, the girl dragged the deer with its horns to the river. She had to lean his own guts away from the carcass in order to drag it and it was not so much a problem because he was going downhill but when he came to the bottom of the ravine it became a different matter. And the exhaustion set in upon him to his very bones. He was being followed by things in the underbrush. He was being watched and not because of him himself but because what he drew with him.
The 2 dreams for Joseph. One was personal th other, prophetic. The personal one was that of sheaves of wheat bowing before him. the prophetic one was the 7 fat cows arriving on the pasture followed by 7 scrawny cows the following spring. In mine I am in some large institution unable to find the class in which I was arrogant and not given to following the schedule. I looked around for people who I might recognize as attendees but everyone was a stranger. Now I was frantic and upset that I could not find my way back to class.
When we got to the site I was thinking of how I had struck my wife and she ended up with a black eye