It wasn’t twilight by the time we pulled into the Credit Union parking lot. I know it wasn’t twilight because the sun like a giant painted moon was only half sunk behind the building. It was a big sunset too, the blinding pink kind. It was the kind of sunset cowboys ride off into. We were riding into it, but there wasn’t a cowboy in spitting distance. I thought of it as nothing more than a driving hazard.
I think sunsets and sunrises are over rated. If I were forced to pick one over the other it would be sunset, but honestly why chose between two moments in a day when there is so much going on in between. And since I have no preference I will tell you why I didn’t choose sunrise. It’s because of early risers. You know the back biters who talk too big about a preference for the sun rising as if this qualifies them to judge those of us who have only seen it by accident. Oh, you chose to rise at dawn, good for you. Here’s a gold star, now fuck off I’m trying to sleep! Even during the happiest times of my life sunrise has meant nothing more to me than a bad reason to get out of bed. Oh wow the dawn of another day.
This attitude of mine did not bode well in a household where sleeping late was considered a cardinal sin. Don’t you know, “the early bird gets the worm?” I don’t care about worms, do you? I spent much of my fucked up childhood just trying to get some sleep. Where’s the sin in that?
It always seemed to me that everyone in my family took on, to one degree or another, the persona of cruise director, puritanical pilgrim or anal-retentive-hun. Our unspoken, in-house motto, “All work and no play makes you a better person.” I had taken on the persona of washed up Tibetan Monk with a penchant for observation and alternating catatonia, the likes of which had to be slapped out of me by the biggest hand or loudest voice in the room.
Another leviathan on my path to normalcy was, I am a night person. And being a night person qualifies me to talk about all things night and all things dark. It’s where I do my best work. I can tell you this about darkness, it doesn’t fall, it just happens, but this story doesn’t take place in the dark, it takes place just before dark, before twilight even, in a bank parking lot sprinkled with cars and money grumblers.
People walking into and out of banks are always looking down. Some are looking down counting. Some are looking down at pieces of paper and some are just looking down at their shoes. Yes, there is the occasional upward glance, but for the most part it’s all down. I call these folks money grumblers. Not a happy face in the bunch, not even on a late Friday afternoon, not even on a payday. I’m wondering if these plebeians awaken at Dawn.
While I waited in the “SUV” for my then husband to come back with the cash I scanned the parking lot with a mind towards speculation and judgment. I often amuse myself making fun of others, but in the light of late day, when I am not at my best, sunshiny forces will often conspire and lob a wrench at my fun. This wrench turned out to be a shovel digging me deeper into the soap opera of my so-called life.
You see there was this guy whose name I can’t mention, let’s call him K, to whom I was engaged. He left me when he found someone more suitable. We will call that more suitable someone S. I loved K for 8 long and I mean 8 extraordinarily long years. Those years felt so long that I now see them as a mini separate lifetime that ran parallel to but were not actually a part of my now life, or alternatively they were a long walk on the red-red grass of hell, except for the sex part. I learned from this that when you are in Hell or on it’s needle sharp red fringe, you don’t care to notice. I mean yes, there’s that gnawing little voice always whispering, telling you to “get out!”, “get out!, “GET OUT!”, but who listens to that? Especially when there’s another much louder voice screaming at the top of it’s lungs the “exception-to-the-Hell-sucks-rules”, which we all know are, “yeah, but the sex is good!” and “He really loves me, he’s just doesn’t know it yet!”
When K hooked up with S I saw it as another betrayal in life’s little eggs nest of shitty relationships instead of the prodigious get out of Hell free card that it clearly was. And when it ended I did what any insane, heartsick, horny, night person would do. I found someone else. At first it was a couple someone else’s, you know, to ease the pain, but they were short-lived, steamy one night stands which helped me over – pardon the pun – hump into the arms of the transitional man who I would eventually marry and divorce. We will call that man R.
So there I am sitting in the truck in the bank parking lot doing what I was born to do, observe and judge. When out of the corner of my eye I see – get ready for it – K and R walking out together, not looking down but up towards the middle row of cars. K peels off in an arched half circle, still muttering to R, who is heading away from me towards, you guessed it, S who is now emerging somewhat gleefully from the passenger’s side of K’s car. K, unfortunately is heading directly towards me, checking his pocket-watch, (yeah pocket-watch) which he keeps tethered on a gold chain clasped to the belt loop nearest his right front pocket. While I am astutely more interested in what R and S are doing I cannot help but notice that as K ages he takes on more and more the semblance of a leprechaun.
Now you may be wondering how it is that my X-fiance, his new girlfriend, my new husband and I were all friends. Well let’s just say that I was formerly introduced to S for the first time at my “surprise” engagement party to R. She attended with K. The party was hosted by a good-good friend of mine who may not have realized how distracted I would be at having my X-fiance and the love interest he left me for in the same room as me and my husband to be. I think her inner freak took charge and was amused in perpetuity at the prospect of me and my biggest rival meeting and this was the one and only opportunity she had to manifest that desire. Why those two accepted the invitation is beyond me.
I pay attention too much. Like a human camcorder I record visual images and store them like a CPU, but while I am in storage mode time slows down, almost stops, while life around me continues at its normal pace. So events are taking place. I am recording and all of a sudden wham. K is knocking on the window.
This is my curse. And while I knew, knew he was heading towards me I couldn’t stop myself from recording S, not right off the bat, not in a million years, not if you lit a fire under my ass, which actually happened to me once, but it was a firecracker, but anyway.
In my own defense I seriously doubt anyone could not at least notice her shirt. It was a nondescript T tucked into denims whose degree of fade had gone out of fashion many years before. You see it wasn’t the type of shirt, it was the color. Bright yellow to the yellow side, you know, the kind of yellow happy people wear. The kind of yellow cruise directors wear. Golfers sometimes wear yellow too, but not like this. Her top and bottom were cut in half by a wide brown leather belt and a shiny brass buckle. I knew by her outfit that she was an early riser.
What she was wearing paled in comparison to how she was moving towards R. I’m not sure if the words “moving towards” accurately describe her gait. It was stealthy, yes, but something about her arms was just wrong. They were bent at the elbows, upward facing, palms out, moving rhythmically in opposition to her steps, like windshield wipers clearing the air before it had a chance to ruffle her outfit. Was it a defense mechanism? I hadn’t noticed this before, but then I had never observed her in the light of day. This was the second time I’d seen her and my recorder was set on high. The hypnotic rhythm of her arms moving to and fro like blades on my windshield put me into a trance of sorts, so K had to knock a couple times before I pressed the button and lowered the window. K had managed, without my noticing to light a cigarette, on his way over. He rolled his own and as he spoke he would pause to spit tobacco. He never got it past his lips on the first try.
He said, “Hello, How are you?” Inhale, exhale, double spit. I said, “Fine how are you?” He said, “I could be better.” Spit, double spit. I said, “Why, what’s the matter?” Inhale, exhale, spit, then he whispers, “S has cancer.”
To Be Continued . . .