A Figure Left the Building
The weather permits. I sat on the lawn chair on my front step to smoke an organic cigarette. The basil bloomed at my feet, the rosemary. I heard a door slam across the street. A figure left the building. A woman came to the front door and called gently into the night, “Mark?” The man at the curb said, “Shit,” but the other words he said were inaudible to me. Then he started and revved his engine. He pulled away from the curb on a small motorcycle, turned, and rode by in the breeze of his motion. The woman turned out the front light.
The editor and his lawyer said that to describe an event using a first name might be defamatory and that to permit it as writing requires the attention of one or more clerks to check the woman-writer’s realization of facts.
I am Bible in my reading. It takes about five good days to read a passage fully. 1Samuel has been fully rich. OT is condensed and so is NT in a different way. Truth is mesmeric. For me and other people I know, the end is not nigh. Some people are beginning life anew with a fresh puppy. I did not grow up with The Second Coming. The Second Coming turned out to be a novel by Walker Percy. I recommend it. I felt in reading The Second Coming in the late 1980s that a miracle of prose and dialogue were in progress as I turned pages. Naturally, the end felt nigh for Jesus’ followers, in grief and steeped in his recent absence as they were, He their beloved. I like Jesus’ sardonic outlook and philosophy. He was an observer of people, of men. I told a man over lunch that I had read that Jesus’ words, those he was known to have spoken, gathered and read continuously, would amount merely to two hours of speech. Jesus lived to be thirty-three and spoke hardly at all, if so. The man said that Jesus was a frequent guest speaker and proselyte. Proselyte means in Greek “a newcomer to Israel” and a stranger. The man then gave me three choices: A.) Jesus was a good man, a rabbi. B.) Jesus was a preacher. C.) Jesus never lived. The more I ventured to say, and all the while I stayed spare—nearly stuttering and able to eat only half a bowl of gazpacho—the more the man reduced Jesus’ chances and mine to a story. The man may later have told his wife, someone I haven’t met, that I had witnessed to him. C.) “Jesus never lived” could mean “it up.” I liked it that the man said that no one has any business telling someone else what to do except in getting someone off the Titanic. Earlier that morning a tree in the yard had filled with starlings, and on the way home after lunch, the sky held planes that looked like starlings, floating together.
I was saying goodbye to my neighbor, Al, who was moving to Edina. His gal had already moved to Arizona. (She is back visiting, flying in with the one she loves.) Al and I sat in the front, I in my chair on my stoop near my potted plants and he on the lawn rather than the proffered chair. I started to tell him about my being stranded. I was probably shot at by a bullet that sounded like a K against the pale beige brick above my head, as I wandered one evening outside about nine, just after a car had passed, as cars do with some regularity, one or two an hour, or three around nine—how would I know? I told Al that the Russian escort of my former fiancé had said that she could have me eliminated, my former fiancé had said. I thought of the Russian when I heard the K sound. Not the point of the story. The point of this story is that in describing the Russian to Al, I called her a “woman cock,” and it shocked both of us. Al, as he closed as my neighbor, said he does stand-up comedy in Minneapolis. He has a resonant voice. I could hear his singing through bared screens in summer. I had written to the Attorney General’s office on the advice of a retired attorney friend who had since died. I did not know whether to write to the Department of Justice or New York State. I wrote to the Department of Justice and the Minneapolis Sheriff, and neither replied. At my two-month appointment with my doctor, he handed me a copy of my email to the Sheriff that Xfinity had sent to him. I asked the Sheriff in the email, cc’d to other recipients, including the church where I had confirmed, how neighbors can assist each other in P.T.S.D., especially now, before more shit makes the grade as gun waste. Woman cock, I had said it. The shock wore off. I now felt prepared to waltz under a K bullet that hits a stucco brick above the tropical hibiscus.
My former fiancé said it is good that I did not have four legs wrapped in surgery. He may be on-target in evaluating human-to-animal risk proportions where I live. Well. To live in flat flux is how I like it. Some prefer peaks and valley flux. I like level ± flux.
Action she feels as folly, I respond
Polka dot country ... I guess it’s black dots on white background or white dots on black background. Nationalities meant countries our elders’ elders’ elders left. Their descendants are called white people today. Immigrants today are called by the names of their first countries and are not called white people, and teaching them American language is unpaid where I live, where many people live. E.S.L. certificate-based programs place overseas only, and E.S.L. jobs pay $600 a month. I would fault “white” people for not defending or offering aid to their friends if caught in crimes against them. These crimes are retained in stories as blind. God, I freak out sometimes ... a woman I met in California had earned a black belt in karate since her rape at a bus stop ten years before that in Austin. Her fiance flipped his noodle for about a year and doodled in a bar and drank. They did marry and were still a couple, and he drank only one glass of wine at dinner. She got tipsy. That is a longer white marriage without their cry to have a baby. Later I got flippy thinking my date-rapist was the same man who had raped her. That is too cruel on fate’s part to deliver that arrowed thought. I thought it because her attack and its legal aspects were left undescribed. Earring, I call it, not degrees of separation. An earring that is a hoop whose ends come near but do not meet, an open hoop earring not latched. Neither member of the couple, architect or his wife, almost no one, describes their attackers. Neither, no one almost, describes their experiences in reporting crime or in not reporting it. Once a friend asked me to write about rape in an email, so I wrote that it is a weapon of war that would not work here because partners do not give in to it; in fact, they would say it is infidelity in relationships. ... Is this the main idea: whites are passive? Whites I know are working poor. The relations of my family were all professionals who grew up on farms. This is imagined as a given or privilege, to be born in 1929 and become a woman physicist. To hear of it reduces it to privilege, meaning undeserved rewards accrue to the gifted person. My grandfather was a railroad switch man, and my grandmother died following the birth of her third child under three. About belonging to churches, I recently viewed a political charting of denominations that I reposted: Mainline Liberal Christian Protestant is left and libertarian. The idea of Time magazine to eliminate the word feminism caused me to try sub’ing the word “sexist” everywhere the word “racist” appears. To see if it works.
Ann Bogle's heart is on the sleeve of the jacket she wore Wednesday. She puts her coat on and begins to leave the house with her heart still in the closet. She tries to remember where she last saw it. Then it occurs to her. She retrieves her heart and puts it in her pocket.