Where The World Goes When It Goes Away

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Where the World Goes

When It Goes Away

(You Are Here)

It was on a bright day in summer the first time I saw King Death cruise up the hill in a shimmering silver Barracuda, elbow out the window and a Lucky dangling from dark lips inside. Shivering even though I was pretty sure it was just Tommy Mayhew, the 19 year-old punk from up the hill who used to mow my lawn when he was younger and less generally pissed off at the world, I pulled the day’s mail from the box and wandered down the driveway.

Bills, mostly: doctor, hospital, doctor, doctor, lab, doctor, a letter for Sal from her sister Ruth in Ogden, almost certainly another urgent plea for her to come back to the Lord before it was too late. Shutoff notice from the power company. Doctor. TV Guide.

I left Ruth’s letter and the Guide on the kitchen table, quietly squirreled the rest in a recessed shelf near the top of the hutch out of her reach. On the back porch she sat at the picnic table sipping cognac smiling at nothing at all, her eyes full of ghosts. She poured a tumbler quarter full and waggled it at me.

“Join me, mon capitan.”

Cognac’s vile but I slugged it down and even managed a half-assed grin. But what I wanted was to cry though.

“Let’s get blasted.”

She took the tumbler back and refilled. “Working on it.”

Her free hand in mine, we watched the sun slide down the westward blue, pretending everything was just the way it used to be.

* * *

She’s dancing in the LP aisle at Sam Goody’s, miniskirt riding up and down her thighs, swaying back and forth, bare feet patting the carpet so soft and smooth it seems like she might have been at it since the dawn of Time.

“What the hell are you looking at?” she lifts the headphone from her left ear, Cat Stevens whining about how tough life is.

I shrug hopelessly. “You want to go out?”

“You’re kidding…”

 

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