Posted on June 10th, 2016
The western field has flooded. The diner talk is all about the weight and depth of the water, and Ray’s truck stuck in it. You know where you are, Kath is saying to Ray, because this is news and he agrees. I’ve had four cups of coffee and won’t call today either, and the note looks back at me from the paper telling me to do it but I won’t.
Ray doesn’t believe in angels. He told me that once over eggs even though I hadn’t asked. If you sit in one spot long enough in a regular way, people tell you things, and sometimes, it’s about the afterlife and sometimes it’s about the bait shop. They’re about the same. He said their outfits are wrong and Heaven isn’t a place where you just wear bedsheets, and so he couldn’t really get behind it. Ray had a daughter. You’re expecting me to say that she drowned, because that would explain why he doesn’t want to think about otherwordly sheet wearing winged guardians but what really happened is that Ray’s ex took her to Arizona and he’s never been on a plane. Sometimes people become past tense just because of geography. They’re alive somewhere else, but, you don’t know about it, mostly.
That was last winter. Kath was wearing the red jacket a lot then. She has two, one red, one tan, and they signal something, but I haven’t worked it out yet. I kept track for a month, but the pattern stayed out of sight. Sometimes I think Ray is in love with her, and maybe the switching has something to do with that, but JJ tells me I’m fanciful and I keep it mostly to myself.
What I don’t say is that I’ve seen one. And they don’t wear bedsheets.
They mostly wear canvas coveralls, and are at the hardware store, sorting through the nail bin, and getting silvered fingers. I asked what that was all about, and he just said ‘It’s pleasurable’. I didn’t know, right away, what I was seeing, which he said was pretty common. They go to great lengths to make that happen, otherwise, it’s nothing but requests and gawping and hey can you tell me if I’m doing this thing right, or why this other thing happened and is there a plan, and it makes you pretty tired. I said you get tired? and he said sure thing, it’s not the easiest job, and put his silvered hands in his pockets, and rocked back on his heels a bit in some invisible wind. Ray doesn’t believe in you, I mentioned. Oh, we know. That’s okay, is what he said, which was charitable, and I guess that’s no surprise. I was gonna go for a walk, is what I said next, and he said We know that too, and I thought that it must be annoying to talk to anyone, knowing everything all the time, and he said, out loud, yeah, sometimes, it is.
He followed me out of the hardware store. I wondered if I should be nervous about it or not, but, figured there was no point, either way, and kept on down the sidewalk. A condom had washed up against one of the road drains and I felt embarrassed to have to see it given my walking companion but he didn’t say anything and I guess he sees everything no matter what, but still. Don’t sweat it, he said to the back of my head, because the sidewalk had narrowed and I was walking in front a little bit and I started even though I knew he was there. I’ve always been a nervous person. When I still lived with JJ I’d forget that he was in the house sometimes and he’d come into a room and my heart would stop because I didn’t always know who he was right away. I lose faces. Their parts go from me, and it takes effort to call them back.
We reached the hill that falls down to the docks and my feet started on the familiar slope to the water.
I like this place, I said out loud again, because it is habit and habit is hard to stop having, and the presence behind me didn’t say a thing. It smelled the way that it always did, halfway between what you’d like to remember and what you’d like to forget, with salt mixed in. Ray can only ever talk about all of the fish that have pissed in the ocean when we go out early in the boat, and I see it when I look down, a river within a greater river.
My companion says nothing, which is fine, which is what I expect, I guess, but also, if he knows what I am thinking, he knows that I am not going to call.
I take the paper out of my pocket, where its number has grown thin, in the creased places, so that it is soft. As soft as water. As soft as sugar, sifting down. As soft as anything.
It lands on the water. Soft, there too.
It comes back.
What, I say?
Just what I meant, he remarks. You will see.