It took me 55 minutes to walk from my mother-in-law Beth’s back to our house after dinner. It was dusk but I didn’t get rained on, I got home before dark. There’s a part of the walk that goes up a short hill with no shoulders on a country road that freaks me out, near a yard with goats that when it rains the fog clings to and gets boggy, sometimes steam comes off the asphalt. Whenever a car goes by the sound of the engine reminds me of a boat going by on the water, the wake, how it smooths back in and dissipates over time like it was never really there. The sound of the car was like that once it got over the hill and you could hear the crickets and frogs again.
The whole time I wrote in my head, picking up from my last post, imagining how I’d advance the story about my VP. The hard thing about writing about people is the fact that they could one day read it, and there’d be a reckoning if you ever saw them again. There’s a power that comes to writing I wanted to use properly. I never wanted to use the blog to talk bad about people, but I was drawn to the dark parts of the human heart, the everyday malice as a universal theme. There was plenty of that I imagined at my last job. And it wasn’t real evil per se, but to use the Dungeons & Dragons term (the role-playing game), it was “chaotic evil,” the kind of evil you’d expect from orcs and hobgoblins. Lawful evil was bad wizardry by comparison (think Saruman). I pictured myself as lawful good, identified as a paladin, but I had plenty of problems myself.
There was a valley near my mom’s house over the vineyards above the Himmelsleiter I used to walk, and it was in that valley late winter I dreamt about my VP. I can’t remember if the valley was in my dream or if I was in the valley on a walk when I remembered the dream, the two get confused. But it was there I ran into my VP who was jogging, and that was strange, because he wasn’t the kind of guy to run or work out. He was really fit, but seemed almost too smart to exercise. By that, I mean he had better things to do with his time.
In the dream I remarked on his jogging outfit but when I looked down I realized his feet weren’t real, they were mechanical. They were robot feet with rebar where the legs should be. And then I think the dream ended and I started lucid dreaming, my imagination took hold, and I pictured his eyes went blank and made a hissing sound like static on a TV—and when I woke I realized it was the robot from a Queen album cover, that bothered me as a child, an animated robot holding the band members with blood running through its fingers like it was crushing them but didn’t mean to. And I thought wow…what does that mean?
There was the last night I saw them all at a Christmas party my last day of work, and when I said goodbye how his body stiffened when I forced a hug to his handshake, and for some reason I really wanted to stay in touch, I liked him, and it was probably some father figure thing, some need for acceptance coded in me, the thought I could work somewhere and be safe, and always feel welcomed or wanted—that I could work at the same place all my working life and retire whenever I was ready. But things aren’t like that anymore.
Charlotte had a play date with the daughter of a friend who works in my group. Some crows were outside making a ruckus and when I went out to greet her friend I realized why, there was a headless baby rabbit on the front door step and Roxy was protecting it, rolling around in the warmth of the sun on the concrete and purring with the flies buzzing about, blood on her chin. I asked Charlotte’s friend to go around the back, I put the rabbit in the trash—but then I noticed the crows, and thought it would be better to let them eat it, so I walked in my socks to the end of the driveway and tossed it on the edge of our property and the angle of it in the mulch looked like something from a French cook book, or reminded me of the streets of Paris, something you’d see in a storefront window.
I replayed those scenes from work for my memoir, I ran through them like a carousel of pictures on my computer, I tried them at different speeds. I was convinced there was something more. The memories, the scenes, poked up like rock formations in the ocean. You had to wonder if there was more beneath. Or if all those memories, our lives, were hidden below unseen, and would remain that way forever.
Photo by Loren Chasse.