The town was thick with the smell of grass and earth. It was the end of April and I’d been back for nearly a month. Nights spent drinking Dad’s Millers and sitting on the big porch with Mom talking about the long ago in California, my childhood, her sisters and when she was a girl. I was weary and pissed about being away from the city and losing my job, but sitting out in the cool air next to her voice as she smoked those horrible skinny cigarettes and the lone cherry tree above us was comfortable and I knew it would be fine.The great oscillating quakes of March 11th sent the gang in Tokyo scrambled in all directions, escaping to Hong Kong, Paris, London, South Korea and all the way home to the belly of N.C, where all the goons go to brood the impossibility of something else. The nights went on and blurred together. Things were the way you left them, and we were forever in a mode of return because of a refusal to accept our unhealthy attraction to the lazy pace of a day. It was no good, but I’d wake in horror at the thought of it changing.
I rode the white JEEP with its bad front-axel down East Marion and crossed highway 74 to old Earl. The night sky (illuminated blue), cast black against the rolling hills of shadow-flora, bugs smashing against the glass-falling, bloodied stars.
“Turn it up.”
“Speakers are blown out.”
“Can I smoke in here?”
Pulled into the small white duplex outside the city and well-lit windows under a hanging tree. Three red cigarette coals floated in the darkness–airborne shepherds to guide me home.
“Where you been, man?”
“What was it like?”
“And what about the radiation?”
Guitar chords crashed from behind the door and laughter.
We moved around in circles talking about some girl we’d had or some girl we wanted to have as I threw high fives and was kissed. Unshaven faces and necks with the smell of smoked tobacco and Busch light on breath. My three brothers stood in the white glow from the kitchen- finer versions of me. Olive skinned guardians of the name.
“Same side, bro.”
“Think you’re cool, K?”
“Pop a top,” They said.
I grabbed a cold, silver can and drank, spilling it down my shirt, stretching my collar to find it.
“You’re always pulling on that collar.” and there she was with a little black T-shirt and shorts gripping full, white thighs.
Thank Christ for that.
“Where you been?” I asked.
“Here and there,” she said.
The warming air of spring was there and so was she, with a dark set of eyes hovering like two bullet holes painted with prudence, beautiful and flush. God damn, I thought. Can’t think to start this up, because it’s half-cracked and I can’t keep my head straight back home, the girls there and my dirty, rotten disposition.
“I was looking for you,” she said.
“You talk too much,” exhaling smoke and thinking something else entirely.
We played the old songs from the old days so the mood would burn into the early hours, and it went on as it would, huddled around bathroom sinks and speaking in tongues to fight long gone points on the subject of nothing. We swore to leave by two, but stayed for the sun– she and I in the dark. Three months of this and nothing to do but forget about Tokyo and run my mouth to whoever’d listen.
We smoked outside and slowly felt the heat crawl up our backs and drip down again to the dirt, our bucking visions of a good thing and enough beer to name it.
the big tits serve chicken
wings to morons in hats drinking big beers, argue
over which college team will win the game, neither having been.
fist fight. cops.
Carolina in the spring