Nick remembered his only Ferris wheel. It happened during the county fair when he first felt wrong about this whole growing up thing. He was ten, and his brother was six or seven. Nick waited in line and climbed up onto the seat while the carny with the cigarette clinging to his lip lowered and clanked the bar into place across the seat. Nick noticed the carny’s dirty and yellowed fingernails and promised to always keep his own clean. He waved to his mother who stood by his father and brother who was too short to go with him on the Ferris wheel, which was fine with Nick because he only wanted to see the view from the top and not be distracted by the kid. And the wheel began turning, cranking into motion. Nick held the sides of the car as he went higher. He could see the whole valley and the river winding, and maybe that was imagination, but he would never tell the difference.
Wind and rain lashed the streets of downtown San Diego – a rarity, even in the middle of winter. I had cranked the wipers to their highest setting and they danced across the windshield like a couple of stick figures jitterbugging on speed.
Today was Thrift Store Friday for the little woman and I, and no typhoon, monsoon, or arctic blast was going to keep us away from our treasure seeking quest. I had drawn up a mental itinerary for the morning which took us all the way from the Goodwill and St. Vincent De Paul’s in El Cajon to the Purple Heart and Salvation Army in Chula Vista and finally to a string of independent thrift shops in the rundown warehouse district of San Diego’s downtown – a grueling course for a couple of 50-something retirees (late 50’s to be exact) but a potentially lucrative one if the pickings were good.
In 1972 I missed my chance to join a busload of nomads headed to the first Gathering of the Tribes, also known as the Rainbow Festival. They told me it was going to be the center of the universe, which may have been true, but I took a pass.
When the next offer to attend Rainbow came along I didn’t hesitate. I was working as an aide in a local junior high school. When school let out for the year, my work shifted to watering lawns and caring for the school grounds. I like physical work, but for this job my biggest challenge was staying awake, so I leapt at the opportunity to travel with my longtime pal Bob Almblade.
from the novel Affair
She waits outside the door. Or inside the door. Not in the door. I am in the bathroom. She is in the room. I just used the bathroom. She presumably did not just use the room. Besides her, there is also a bed in the room and maybe a few odds and ends and four corners which she is not using because she used the bathroom just before me when I was in the room listening to her use the bathroom instead of seeing the room. Then we switched. Here I am.
It wasn’t until he scratched his nose and said, “I’m getting outa here,” that Reggie knew Lou was holding out. The nose thing was a tell, a learned behavior from years of dedicated opiate use. Red faded lines scored across his nostrils, inflamed with each rake of nail on skin.
The living room curtains had been drawn days ago, in an attempt to curse the sun, as well as entire straight world that thrived in its rays. The only remaining notion of time blinked from the DVD/VCR combination, but even in sobriety the neon numbers were held suspect. OxyContin metered the days at irregular intervals that suffered mania, desperation and beautiful, beautiful nothing.
While he was still a long way off, the young man collapsed as if dead. His legs burned and his stomach ached. He was parched, hungry and tired and his body was failing him. His eyes could just make out the walls ofhis father’s property but now, it seemed farther away than it ever had before. He had hoped that the sight of his family home would be enough to pull him forward, that last bit of motivation he needed to keep moving. But now, the weight of his shame and regret began to crush him and his body was too weak to fight back.