Weird scenes inside the gold mines

Dawn was away with the kids for the weekend and it was just me and the dog. I felt like a teenager with the house to myself except I didn’t drink anymore and couldn’t invite anyone over. I cued violent films and smoked a joint with the windows closed. Ate leftovers no one would. With everyone away I could control how the house would look for once, orderly and clean.

I stretched out like a starfish across the bed and sunk to the bottom of the sea. I was in a restaurant and a bottle of wine floated out of a menu but I mouthed the words I d o n’ t d r i n k and it disappeared. In the morning I bought a new chainsaw and cut down three trees. I did the notch and hinge on the first one so it would fall right but it fell the opposite way. I bucked and dragged the remains to the side of the sports court then took a bath.

The light comes quickly now and dwells at the end of the day. I lit a small smoky fire and sat there poking it. I cut the grass but didn’t bag the clippings and the air smelled fresh, like spring. The thrum of crickets and tree frogs again. Someone had broken into our car the night before though, so I circled the perimeter of the house and removed the hatchet from the wood cutting area as a precaution. And turned on lights I normally wouldn’t, lowered the shades, locked the doors. Kept sensing movement each time I looked out the windows but it was only my reflection.

The dog gummed the insides of her bowl and me a chipped pint glass with a pub crest stamped on the side. There was a time life was so sweet we couldn’t afford to sleep or miss any of it. We stayed up all night for the drama of it. It was like that for our kids and I wanted to feel that again, if only for one night.

The cat was in the garage all night keeping an eye on a mouse and wore a disgusted look like a mall cop. The dog was nervous with everyone gone and wouldn’t stop being a pain. I used a chop stick to dip peanut butter on the inside of a chew toy and it was almost kinky rimming the hole. She focused on that and me my video game. Don told me about dry drunks, who stop drinking but maintain the same behavior after they quit. I’d shifted over to Fortnite, advancing levels in a battle royale style game. I was up to level 79 and had played more than 500 games. All of it felt like killing time, like waiting in an airport or doctor’s lobby.

Charlotte came home on Saturday and we watched anime, ate frozen pizza. All the themes were so dark though: this one, an orphanage that’s really a human farm where they raise kids to be shipped off to demons and eaten. Charlotte had connected with the characters like they were real people. I wondered if it was a proxy for some normal human interaction she needed. And what mine was.



Categories: Memoir, writing

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34 replies

  1. I REALLY don’t like it when my wife and kids are away. It always seems like it will be fun, but in the end I just miss them and feel lonely.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My wife is sending me away with the kiddos for spring break. It will be a great experience, but at the same time I will be jealous that she’s getting the house to herself with the rest of us gone. There’s a certain amount of injustice there.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Closed window smoking is a staple.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. There’s a strong feel of both action and inaction here, Bill. Kind of in tune with and also at odds with incipient Spring. But the underlying tension is powerful too, especially in the final para.

    Fine piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. totally like the parents were out of town fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad you had the good sense to move the hatchet, Bill.

    “All of it felt like killing time, like waiting in an airport or doctor’s lobby.” Ah, so true.

    I’ve been noticing the repetition of actions and along with the actions, the thoughts. Void of novelty, thinking the same laundry-thoughts, sweeping-thoughts, feeding-dog-wiping-counter-cooking-rice-walking-sidewalk thoughts, and wonder when I stopped chafing under it all and mistook it for calm

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  7. Yes! One of my grandfathers used to wait for the moon to plant peas in his garden. He laughed about superstitions, he just thought it was fun, the moon pulling the sprouts up faster. Yeah, bringing the hatchet inside sounds good. The last time I walked on the canal path in my hometown, you go by a little hut & derelict camper, that are sometimes occupied by a nudist/shaman guy, who’s created a whole junk garden along the path. He’d left a machete sticking out of a log, right on the trail, and I thought, classic “attractive nuisance,” if some kids fool with that and get hurt, he’s gonna end up in court. Is that your photo of the flames? I can never get that to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was my friend Loren’s photo of the flames from an early season camping trip last year in Oregon. He’s got a good eye (like you)! I could be that derelict camper you describe and you’re right about leaving machetes lying around, not a good look. Though you put some heads on poles and that will keep the meddling kids at bay.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! Well, hadn’t thought of that, the old Vlad the Impaler approach. And get some of those big black ravens to pick out the eyes, I always like that Middle Ages touch.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m fixed on the stupid Fortnite game and keep seeing the Mandalorian lair, a desert cantina where he has stormtrooper heads out front on spikes. I keep trying to kill him so I can get his jet pack but haven’t yet (wish me luck).

        Liked by 1 person

  8. There are times so sweet we have no need of sleep (and they sure do beat those times when we can’t). I’m holidaying on the coast and a long Vivaldi piece is playing on the system I’ve rigged up here; and so it feels as sweet as this Autumn night.
    Anyway, I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the dissolution of a wine bottle that floated out of a menu when you mouthed the words ‘I d o n’ t d r i n k’ against the subsequent purchase of a new chainsaw and cutting down some trees.
    An engaging reflection.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi David, that’s a winner of a comment there, so cool to imagine that time you’re having on your holiday with the Vivaldi and autumn coming on. Grateful you took a minute to read my post there and it resonated with you. It’s one of the things I like most about writing, to connect with people — and for people to make unexpected connections with the story, like the chainsaw juxtaposition as you say. Thanks so much. Enjoy your time on the coast…

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  9. We are heading inland a bit today to do a walk in the tree tops (The Otway Fly walk). The forest is magnificent on this Cape: it’s soul restoring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I envy you that David! We have an old-growth rainforest and big-ass glacier I like to visit on our coast and I’m hoping to do that this year. Need that soul restoration big time!

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  10. Bill, that sounds fantastic.
    I hope you get there soon.
    Perhaps to celebrate the 150th anniversary of National Parks legislation next year, if not before.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. No go at the ‘Fly. (An unplanned closure today). But we found a depression-era experimental stand of Sequoiadendron giganteum to explore instead: Californian majesty surrounded by thousands of rangy, airy, colourful Aussie gumtrees and a thick undergrowth of treeferns.
    Good. Good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds nuts! And me I just pruned our licorice swordferns myself. We to spring as you are to fall! Ha! Thanks for the postcard David, that’s a good one.

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  12. One other crazy thing – those sequoia have been included within the national park boundary. Three cheers for the big American immigrants!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A lot I recognize here. In bed by 10:30 and thinking, “What happened to me?”
    “a disgusted look like a mall cop” — love that.
    Never heard of a dry drunk. I think another term for that is “inexcusable asshole.”

    Liked by 1 person

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