Monday, August 3, 2015

break up

ink on paper
When you insult life or appearances, you’re insulting the intelligence or unity, the coherence of things. The world might feel overwhelming and chaotic when in fact everything is organized according to gravity, speed of light, weather patterns, cause and effect. If one examines reality in a scientific manner, things do not appear haphazard. The world is not arranged in an absurd manner. Each detail makes sense in relation to an infinite myriad of other details.

    Lohbado wrote this in his notebook at the table in a quiet one story building overlooking the river. The shabby blue building had once been used to house prisoners released from jail and preparing to enter society. It had been a halfway house, made of cheap materials, a low ceiling, florescent lights, thin poorly insulated walls. Drafts of cold wind blew in through the cracks around the aluminum slider windows.

    On one level, wrote Lohbado, the story of my life is an interpretation influenced by mood and by whatever thoughts and memories occur during the moment of writing. Pick and choose images from the stream of thought. Lohbado dropped his pen as he heard a truck pull up outside. The truck door slammed, footsteps on the gravel, footsteps on the wooden stairs. The front door opened. A man in a baseball cap and brown felt-lined canvas coat swaggered into the kitchen.

    “Betty told me she’d be here,” he said, gazing about and swaying on his feet, as if he expected to find her hiding under the table or crouching behind a cabinet, “You see anybody?”

    “I’ve only been here since lunch time,” said Lohbado, pointing to the empty spaghetti pot soaking in the sink.

    “I should have seen it coming,” groaned the man, about forty, medium height, wiry, but with a huge beer gut hanging over a deer-head belt buckle, “I was trying to explain things. She walked out. Not a word. She took off on the scooter. Sometimes she comes here.”

    “Nobody’s been here all afternoon,” said Lohbado, “I slept for a couple hours on the sofa. Nobody around.”

    A bulky faded blue sofa was pushed up against spruce studs. Someone had removed drywall panels to open up the space. Electric wiring was visible. The long narrow shack with little rooms along each wall, was quiet as a mausoleum. Hank’s voice fell flat in the heavy silence of the room. The silence inside the desolate shack made a man feel small. Hank gazed about in silent impotent desperation. He knew he was finished. Betty wouldn’t be coming back. He was merely going through the motions, driven by some sense of obligation to make a fuss. A man is supposed to make a fuss when his woman walks out on him. Something in his mannerisms suggested he didn’t believe what he’d been conditioned to believe. He pulled two cans of beer from his coat pocket and shoved one across the table to Lohbado.

    The click of the cans cheered them up. It’s a comical sound, to open a beer can, the sound of promise followed by the glug glug sound as one takes a slug. Warm beer went down smooth. It felt good in the stomach. Lohbado belched. Hank wiped mucous from his lips on to the back of his hand, then lifted his baseball cap, raked his hair back with long fingers and put back the cap. Nothing but trouble... Hank sighed and laughed.

    “She’s gone and in a way I’m glad,” he said, “I don’t blame her. I have to admit, I can be hard to take sometimes. I get on my own nerves. I respect Betty for walking out on me. I know I’m supposed to be hurt and angry, but I'm not. What she did makes perfect sense. She found another man. Good for her. In her shoes, I’d have done the same thing.”

    He gulped down more beer and leaned his arms on the table. An expression of fear flickered across his face, then he relaxed and started laughing. It started as a chuckle and exploded into uproarious laughter. He jumped to his feet, paced back and forth a few times, lifted his cap again to rake his hair then sat down.

    “It’s a blessing in disguise. The relationship is over. I love Betty. Don’t get me wrong. She’s a fine woman. In fact, her walking out on me increases my respect for her. What kind of woman would stay with a guy like me?”

    He gulped down the rest of his beer, reached into his pocket and pulled out two more cans. Lohbado chugged down the beer left in the can and opened another. It felt good, warm beer after a long nap on the sofa in a quiet bleak building which had once been a halfway house for prisoners. Outside the aluminum slider windows he caught a glimpse of rock hills lining the cove which emptied out into the bay.

    “I haven’t had a scrap of work in over six months,” said Hank, “Not since one of the buildings I worked on burned down. It wasn’t my fault. They did an investigation. But people got it in their heads it was my fault. Once you lose your reputation, you might as well leave town. When the woman leaves, then you know you’re finished. Trouble is, I have no place else to go. This literally is the end of the road. If you can’t make it here, you’re not likely to make it anywhere. This is the edge of the planet, the last stop for those destined for failure. So you see, I’m finished. That’s it. Over and out.”

     "Maybe it's a beginning," said Lohbado, in a tired attempt to offer encouragement, "One moment ends. Another begins. Nothing lasts. One is born, gets old and dies. That's how it is."

   "My father used to say, when you have a big problem, the first thing to do is get drunk. It reduces the shock. Then you deal with it. He was an alcoholic."

 "I know all about problems," said Lohbado, "But after a while, things work out. One finds a way to keep going."

"Ok, enough of this morbid talk. Let's go for a drive. I'll show you the bay."

They drank one more beer then went out to the old pickup truck. Soon they were bouncing down a rock trail over a ridge and down into a valley leading out to the bay. The view was breathtaking. Just to be out there made them feel better right away. Lohbado hadn't been in a motor vehicle for weeks. It felt strange to glide across the vast and desolate landscape of rock, streams, ponds and the huge river in the distance getting wider as it approached the sea.


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