Posts Tagged 'sketch'

Blow

I am standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, waiting to see what this day will bring. The wind is sharp, the trains scream, the trees rattle their heads like women mad with grief. Fortune, in her shift and change of mood, is fickle as wind. It lashes, it pricks, it tricks me into submission and I board that train knowing that it is fortune driving, not me.

“It’s one o’clock, boy, is it not?”

I am leaning against the open car and watching, hand shielding my eyes from the blowing sands. Looking to my left, I see him, the man with the heavy mustaches, the man with the cards and the guns and the reputation. His foes are so enrooted with his enemies, so enrooted that it seems the tumbled ground would open and swallow him directly to hell, where surely he is destined to go.

“Yes. The train leaves in ten minutes,” I say. I don’t look at him. I don’t say anything that might invite him to join me.

He takes out his pouch and rolls a cigarette, making the ironic face that men with heavy mustaches adopt. He offers me one. I turn my shoulder away from him.

I will unfold some causes of your deaths.

Deaths, say my ears, deaths, plural. I feel my breath catch in my throat and I turn toward him, making eye contact and holding it. The train makes a sudden heaving gasp and jolts forward. The wind spins through the open car, the sound of steel and air keens and I am deaf, deaf and lost, on this train to god knows where.

Do not trust this history, reader, or my observation in this matter. This is only the story as I can tell it, truth or fevered imagining, I can’t say. Is it only this morning, only these few hours, since I left the warm body of Annabel, before these winds began?

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Walter

Walter in high school was not voted most likely to.

Walter in college did not distinguish himself.

Walter as an agent in his father’s insurance agency fell asleep in front of the green blinking data entry screens that measured out his days one blink, then another, then another.

Walter as a fiancée was comforting but not hot.

Walter slept well and drove a 4 door Buick when he was 22.

Walter’s hairline began to recede, slowly, at 27, but never blossomed into full-on male pattern baldness.

At 35, Walter’s wife, Elaine, left him for a slightly younger version of himself. Walter was mystified but not furious about this. They had no children, and Elaine disappeared back into the lake of his undistinguished youth without a ripple.

At 38, Walter went to his neighborhood Whole Foods market, where he bought a pint of black bean, corn and red bell pepper salad. Walking to the men’s room on his way out, he passed the community bulletin board. He read all the ads, in order, from left top to right bottom. At the far right corner, almost expired per the store’s 30 day policy, was an ad for International Cooking Classes, to be held in a home some two miles from the store. Walter pulled the tab with the phone number and stuck it in his wallet, where it stayed for months.

Around Thanksgiving, Walter, reflecting that he was almost 40, divorced, childless and uninterested in himself, found the tab in his wallet and called the number.

“No, no international cooking classes any more. I didn’t get enough people signed up. I’m teaching homeopathics now. You could sign up for that, it’s here at my house,” said the woman, whose name was Reina. No, Walter told her, he didn’t really want to study homeopathics. He wanted to learn to cook. Did she do private cooking lessons?

There was a short silence on the phone, and a brief negotiation about the cost of private lessons.

On the following Thursday, Walter went to Reina’s house. He brought with him an apron and a chef’s hat, both virginal white, and a set of hot mitts. Reina promised to provide the cooking utensils and the food.

That first week they sat at the table looking at cookbooks, identifying utensils by name, defining some basic cooking methods – dry heat, baking, braising, sautee, and so on. Walter took notes.

The second week they met at the Whole Foods in the produce department and they talked produce – quality indicators in different fruits and vegetables, seasonality, local growing patterns. They touched and smelled, they looked at prices and they looked at weather. Walter took notes.

The third week they met at Reina’s house. Walter brought pancetta, walnuts, chard, goat cheese, baguette, wine, beets and olive oil. At 7 p.m., they began.


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