Even if I live to ninety and end up a drooling old Grinch who has long forgotten who I am or where I’ve left my teeth, there will be one memory, yes, just one memory that will live on and die when I do. It’s only now, years later that I can bring myself to talk about it. Bad things do that to a man. You run and run away from them, turning your back on the bomb blast behind you but someday, you get tired running and you stop. I don’t know what it is, curiosity maybe but you stop and slowly turn around and look at the wreckage from safe distance and survey the landscape of your life that lies both behind and in front of you. There is no difference between past and future, it just depends which way you’re looking.
I remember that Friday night. It was a July and I kicking my heels in downtown Chicago. I was there on business for the realtor company I worked for and It was my only weekend in the city before flying home to Dullsville, Dakota. I had spent a tedious week in meetings with tedious people, pressing the flesh and spinning bullshit and listening to even more bullshit with tubby little men in cheap suits and ties bought for them by Aunt Mamie. It was on that Friday afternoon when the conference drew to a close that a few of the guys invited me to spend an evening at a strip joint with them. I told them gee thanks but my wife was ill and had to fly home early. After the earnest nodding of heads and the ‘hope she gets betters’, I said my goodbyes, shook their hands and promised to call them and left.
I’m not a prude. I love a naked hotty serving me Sam Adams and fries just like the next man with broken dreams but I didn’t want to spend it with a gang of limp dicks from burbland. They weren’t unpleasant but looking back, they were too much of a mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. By the way, did I say I had a wife? Well, the truth is, I don’t have a wife, at least not since I found her cold in our library floor the year before. The coroner recorded accidental death. A broken neck and internal cerebral hemorrhaging. It seemed she fell from the step ladder while stretching too fa a book. I didn’t know what book it was so I decided to punish all the books by burning them all.
I wish I shouldn’t have done that for I still smell those ashes in more ways than one.
Part 2 tomorrow….