(a chapter)

__________


(Wednesday, 7SEP2011)


(evening)

In Charlie Hall we set up tables for a banquet.

“This is the PBS Evening News ... The only reason the Postal Service could report in three-digit millions in the red was because it considered its saved-future-pensions funds spent.”

“The rules must be followed,” J__ says, before falling into conservative silence. The tables are set in rows with burgundy table cloths draped over them. “Layoffs are the answer.”

“The savings accounts were listed in three digit billions.”

__________


(Saturday, 10SEP2011)


Due to the rains outside building up on the sidewalks, this is the third time I've had to clean the church barefooted, leaving my wet shoes by the door.

It becomes a quick-moving, methodical ritual when I clean all three buildings at the same time; all those lines in the Bible of preparing the place for worship, must've made sense at the time.


(night)

Shifted to a factory floor, the air heavy with dust and shavings. I'm about to punch my time card into a clock.

“We're the same team,” he whispers as he sets his umbrella, then stirs a cup of coffee as if purposefully.

'Clenched my jaw. Treason, I catch myself think.

“The evidence against that is everything,” I whisper back, as I finish punching in and move quickly down the aisles of machinery and working men toward my position. “The evidence is the dust all around you.”

“There has been change,” he whispers from behind my right shoulder.

Communist, I catch myself think, as I walk faster and begin rolling up my sleeves.

“A new end result.”

“No one can see the big picture but for God and Nature,” I reply firmly, turning around in the dark corner housing my workbench. The storm outside has become a blizzard, whispering its evidence.

“But the direction!” he cries out, as other workers leave their areas to see what is happening.

Quick -- 'grabbed his arm as a rolling door is opened and the snow reflects gold onto machinery. “It's Roosevelt,” I say to the other men, their faces hardened and adorned with burly mustaches. “Read too many newspaper stories this morning.”

They chuckle. They turn away.

__________


(Sunday, 11SEP2011)


At Arthur Ashe stadium in New York City, the twenty-nine year old Serena Williams gives an athletic “Hieoh!” as her opponent fails to match Williams' serve.

The referee correctly gives the point to William's opponent, Samantha Stosur, due to the aggressiveness of Serena's distracting sound.

Williams is angered.

Two years ago Williams' anger caused her to be booted from the tournament. Today she regulates while Stosur clenches her jaw, seemingly unnerved by an undeserved sense of guilt.

“Once Serena focuses her anger like this and starts playing one point at a time,” the commentator explains. “She becomes unstoppable.”

Serena's anger seems to convert into a cumbersome negativity. In a major upset, Stosur wins the women's U.S. Open.

__________


(Monday, 12SEP2011)


In the first set of the U.S. Open Championship at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Rafeal Nadal's athletic prowess struggles against Novak Duckovic's intricate, toying strategies. Only Nadal's sense of urgency keeps him alive.

The second set lasts seventeen minutes, some rallies involving more than twenty-five swings as Nadal gives his loud “Heeuh” to Duckovic's cool silence.

The third set involves rallies with swings in the thirties.

Duckovic lands the ball exactly in the corners, then front court, then back, keeping Nadal on the defensive until Nadal wins the third set's tie-breaker.

“No one in tennis tries harder than Nadal,” Dick Enberg commentates. “This is as physical a battle as you'll ever see on a tennis court.”

By the fourth hour Duckovic's lower back threatens seizure regularly as Nadal's legs threaten cramps.

“This is the first time Nadal has ever shown a look of resignation.”

__________


(Tuesday, 13SEP2011)


“I will lecture from the liberal point of view,” the history professor begins, quick and loud, as if he's forcing himself to keep the rhythm slow. “Because I am in the South East. One,” he continues. “But also because the text book teaches in a certain, blunt way, and I feel the need to balance that out.”

The story-line structure that the history text book uses concerns the beginning of ships crossing oceans, and the impacts, all the way to present day.

“But what will be on the test,” a confident, small blonde sitting against the wall asks. “Your lectures or the text? And will the tests be multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank.”

“Each test will have an essay,” he says to her lowly, “But it is YOUR KNOWledge,” he lectures, as he paces, trying not to treat her personally but also trying to make a point. “That will be tested.”

His voice has a young quality, despite his mustache and beard. His face is upper twenties, maybe lower thirties; he looks like one of those young bucks on his way to the Civil War, knowing as little about the war as people did after nine-eleven.

“At some point in this class we will have to discuss Vietnam,” the professor continues, moving past a bookcase of artifacts, strange looking bowls and plates of brown and rust colorings. “And it's going to be difficult because of how modern the history is."

Last semester, when taking another class, I made a joke concerning the priceless artifacts displayed against such efficient, modular design and architecture.

“Yeah, concrete blocks don't do them justice,” the professor deadpanned, looking up from a stack of papers.

“And also the liberal, more comPLEX point of view.”

“The most valuable points to be made will be on the test. The logistics of it – time, place, event – is what you should have learned in highschool. RECKoning with history is what you will learn HERE.”

To handle his debates I realize I'm so conservative I'm liberal, him convincing me so liberal I'm conservative … something like true historians do not write history because they are concerned about judgment day, their reader is live flesh.

The professor suggests war films in order to score the brevity of his subject matters, but those films don't work on soldiers; instead he or she witnesses a war reenactment, sitting for hours noticing sets, characters, actors from other productions, and styles of directing. I can't decide if the impossibility of 'film magic' occurring means the soldier would make a good director or a fraught one, already aware of the limits of film.


(late morning)


“The Europeans were being born, learning the sounds “Mom” and “Dad” in a certain language, with a certain accent, inflecting a certain culture and history,” I begin. “Then growing up to discover that it was all arbitrary compared to their being live flesh on land round instead of flat, surrounded by galaxies ...”

“Now that they understood there was no sunrise,” the same history professor says, “But the Earth turns and revolves around the sun.”

“They experienced freedom ...”

“A new sensibility,” he answers.

__________


(Wednesday, 14SEP2011)


“I'm a loser,” I say to her, “Juggling bills as if I only now turned eighteen and struck out on my own. By the time I stepped up to the counter,” I say to her, “To tell her I couldn't pay my rent quite yet, she had already handled two others, the first fifteen-hundred dollars behind in monthly rents, the second over three-thousand dollars behind in rent. I had never been so relieved by the fact that it was a recession.”

She smiles, laughing softly.

__________


(Sunday, 26SEP2011)


Every employee is entitled to a raise, same as every corporation must grow to survive.

The American Civil War never ended because both versions of American capitalism is inherently wrong due to the horror of each extreme: slavery and apathy. While the North insists the wealthy has no responsibility for an employee's well-being and the South demands credit for their familial structure, the employee mistakes the North's version for 'liberty' – a word as abstract and universal as the word 'war'. Capitalism is dependent on the impossible: the wealthy and the poor genuinely caring for each other. For over a hundred years this has been known as: the American Experiment.

“There was no middle class left,” J__ says. “Only huge plantations and poor people. When that happens, horrific happens. If the working class was still there – religious, Republican, Democrat, or nothing -- the Civil War would've never happened and the blacks would've been freed anyway.”

That night I negotiate with J__ over my hours and pay. For a minute our friendship seems on the line, but then I won, he relented.

__________


(Saturday, 1OCT2011)


(morning)


“Don't you see … “ Kid says to me.

“Why are you here … “ I ask him, sleepy-eyed and yawning, surprised he has come to my house on a Saturday. Usually he parties Friday night and calls before he comes over because he wants to smoke.

He is breathless, pacing in front of the piano, whispering. “You've wandered in the desert and you've wandered in the wilderness same as every man and now you're in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

He waits for my response, still pacing, getting nothing. "You're a sinner … just like me … You're my brother now … now that I've met you, now that you've met me.”

“Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,” I whisper back to him. “But made himself nothing, Taking the very nature of a servant, Being made in human likeness, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself, And became obedient to death, Even death on a cross – back when the cross was a cursed symbol of humiliation instead of selfless sacrifice.”

He turns his face from my expression.

“Males take on their relatives' sins as if they were his own,” he says, still pacing, quickly, rhythmically, still looking down at the beige carpet. "To make it royal."

Wilton culture.


(afternoon)


"I would never be in front of my mom ... high," Guy says, right before he leaves. He emphasizes the last word as if it spoke his view of me alone, hence his kind tone. He says the sentence the same way I have heard guys articulate their conscience, they say: "Would my Mom be proud of me ... "

'Remembered a dream of us growing up together through one foster home after another. We erroneously assume we are brothers because neither of us can remember anything before us, but I write him off.

'Remembered Charlotte's Web, the Delton's kitchen, and me telling Sylvester everything in a torrent of words so fast and genuine I cannot remember much of them, only my surprise at the detail of my own wet-eyed account. Even at fourteen, my famous childhood silence remained in effect, only seemingly broken the moment I saw that no one notices the silent one remaining silent if he is talking regularly. Dawn had begged Sylvester and Denise to take me for the two weeks of the rehearsals and performance dates, lamenting, "That look in his eyes is too much!"

"There's no way any of that's true," Sylvester said, as if he had commented on the weather or had said something humorous and expected me to chuckle in agreement as he rose from leaning against the counter to show me where I would sleep.

__________


(Sunday, 2OCT2011)


(8:30)


With a flourish, 'stepped into the brick-walled apartment of my old, plant-loving neighbor, Mrs Marrissa.

“Want to go on an adventure today … ”

She cackles with delight.

I was going to church down the street, but she is already an off-and-on-again member of Wilton Community Church.


(morning services)


“The cross is such a graphic image … “ the Pastor's son, Stephen, says to me.

“The nature of a man, A spirit as eternal as God … “ the congregation sings.

“Set your spirit and heart on above,” Pastor Romes preaches. “Because you are already God's – your body and mind haven't caught up yet.”

___________


(Monday, 3OCT2011)


(night)


“Monday … “ I whisper to the man sitting beside me at Wilton Community Church's Men's Bible study. “All day I keep thinking it's Wednesday ...”

A fellow soldier is present. He is now a cop.

“When the guys come back from deployment,” I say to him as we take down the chairs and tables. “It's like they still need a structure. They become cops, firefighters … I can't remember the other one.”

“Scofflaws,” he says with a laugh.

__________


(Tuesday, 4OCT2011)


(early morning)

Since the most ancient civilization of matriarchs in Northern China, “Dow”ism exists, followed by Confucianism – confusion – because articulation remains impossible. A people deciding its own fate in history – the highest power's sin matching equally with the lowest pauper's crime – remains true on its own instead. Life springs bountiful: what's sown is reaped.

“With the Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck reports the image of California farmers burning fresh crop to keep the prices from bottoming while the farmland is surrounded by camps of starving Americans … “ I find myself saying to the world history professor. “Capitalism naturally faces depression but not the common sense that all human beings are the same.”

“The Communists would have used military force to stop the burning, feeding the people, ensuring common sense.” the professor says.

Communism seems an interesting attempt of an answer to Old World … ways, while Capitalism remains dependent on human character – a character requiring freedom. It can turn humans into slaves for hundreds of years; it can make the bit of sugar in British hot tea more important than the religion spat upon their counterparts.

“And the Socialists would have … systematically educated the people ...” I say.

“Something to that effect,” he answers. “Though some might call it brainwashing.”


(evening)


The word problems concern Realty.

“So what is Escrow … “ I ask the professor.

He looks at me but stays silent, scratching his head.

“Does the escrow go to the previous owners or the bank?“ the professor asks.

“Do we need to know that … “ the girl with glasses says.

__________


(afternoon)


“At least when we were young we had false hope to cling to,” Mrs. Marrissa says with a half-embarrassed chuckle, telling a story about her girlhood days on the Arkansas farm as she waits at the butcher's counter in her “dressed-for-the-doctor” clothes. Still listening, I acquire fresh meat for our WCC's Small Group Bible study's cookout. The television in the corner shows news from Afghanistan.

“... Back in them days they were slaughtering men like cattle,“ she says, “And not just at the noose ...”

Later she looks around the apartment. “All them babies born without respect,” she continues. She slides the tips of her fingers against the surface of the baby grand. With a quick nod, she looks at the tall, shiny-black Kobalt tool chest standing against the wall between the kitchen and the kitchen table.

“All this stuff...” she says, before continuing.

At the Bible Study Mrs. K___ explains how much medication she is on while she can't get off the bottle. “I got up to double digits,” I whisper to her.

“At the emergency room the doctor told me if I didn't stop I'll eventually die in my sleep or wake blind,” she whispers back.

___________


(Thursday, 6OCT2011)


(afternoon)


“The Supreme Court ruled it as such,” the Survey of Mathematics professor says. “So when doing partial-loan interest word problems, we use three-hundred and sixty days for the year instead of three-hundred and sixty-five.”

“Like made-up math … “ I reply.

“Financial math,” he answers.

__________


“About what?” asks Guy as he leads through his parent's silent house.

“That numbers came before letters.”

It is like when a wealthy friend offers you his laundry room while he goes out of town and you notice the nine hundred channels on the cable television, down to the exact song you want to hear. The music video is offensive, presuming the viewer ignorant, the egos of the singer and music makers are vulgar, but that's what sells. All I know is how nice the underlying melodies have been as I ride passenger in Guy's car, or work alone and hear them from afar.

____________


(Tuesday, 18OCT2011)


(early-morning)


“Some argue one sentence covers modern history,” the professor lectures. ”White people happened.”

As I step into history class, a guy glances at my abdominal as I step past his seat to mine.

“But isn't that propoganda... “ I ask the professor. "Everything currently wrong is the winner's fault?”

I give the student a quick, angry look, causing him to look away, as if in trouble.

'Didn't do it on purpose; it happened in a knee-jerk way. When he looks at me during class I am kind, resolving it, but I remember those years when I was a-sexual and would notice attractive people from both genders, that heterosexual look of hate flashed in my direction, that same look I'd flash at anyone interested.

“That group can't help being good at mathematics,” the world history professor says, concerning an ethnic group.

“But isn't racism the ultimate form of propaganda … “ I ask.

“I'm not saying you're wrong,” says the professor.


(afternoon)


Fall evident in the breeze blows against our short-sleeved arms.

“I'm glad I ain't in any trouble like that,” Mrs. Marrissa says, concerning the past due taxes on my Jeep, as we stroll through the now-matured bayou of stolen-plants and pass by Billy and Miss's old apartment. “I think I'd be scared all the time.”

“Hook or by crook,” I reply, ducking under the tropically-shaped leaves of a Samosa. “Juggling bills.”

She laughs. “No, you just playin' cool,” she says from in front of me. “One of them people hanging by guts and a prayer.”


(evening)


The Survey of Math professor is an ex-football player. In the word problem on the board he adds up the interest charged in the thirty-year loan with the original cost of the house.

“Either the person is crazy for thinking the house will appreciate that much in thirty years,” I ask. “Or the banker is crazy for lending the homeowner that much ...”

“That's the gamble,” he answers. “Over thirty years the money value of land may have less to do with the actual property and more to do with the character of the person standing on it.”

I think about the sounds: “South,” “American,” translating monetary value according to who can keep a promise.

__________


(3AM, Thursday, 3NOV2011)


'Found a way to acquire the same medication over-the-counter; I only have to take more. In the back of my mind I notice I've been on something, alcohol or not, straight through since September. Sleep seems as silly as writing did back on June first.

“She's wearing shades at night, even indoors,” I say to the guy at the register of the all-night drug store.

“Night owl,” he mutters as answer, his werewolf facial features making me envious.

“Guess weirder stuff happens around here overnight,” I reply as I slide the pills across the counter toward him.

“Yeah,” he says, eying me kindly as he rings up the pills. “The ones who are different stop by.”

__________


(Tuesday, 22NOV2011)


(night)


Wilton Christian Academy is run by the same beings as the Wal-mart where I got my five-year pin. “Just do it,” Michelle says, the ultimate polyvore. The church I take care of has now been expanded into a school.

Shifted to a fine restaurant. Not only are Grace's friends there, sitting around a long table covered with a white-table cloth, but many also work there. Grace is popular with our Wilton peers.

Shifted to a set of townhouses surrounding two sides of a street. One is mine, the one beside it turns out to be rented by Grace. Uninvited and assuming, her and her friends walk inside mine. The second story has two restrooms not ten feet from each other, one in each corner of the foyer-like room at the top of the stairs. “So this one should be mine,” Grace says. She decorates it throughout the afternoon as her friends help her.

On the way to the restaurant where her friends are waiting to meet us for dinner, we make a stop to the outskirts of town where trailers and one-story, dilapidated houses line the streets at odd angles, as if the street had once not existed, only divvied-up land. We have to drive through a special wooden door to get there. I step out of Mrs. Marrissa's long, white Lincoln and unlock the locks on the door, then open it for Grace to drive through, then close it behind her. Inside is a long, dusty-equipment-lined street inside an enormous garage leading to an opening at the other end.

No telling what crowd Grace's into. She has a paper bag of money to drop off at a trailer but the guy is not home so we walk across to his noisy relatives' house. Upon first sight they are a family of criminals, a loud, blunt-talking woman the matriarch. Grace realizes the woman, and invariably, her son, do not realize Grace owes the money so Grace suddenly makes no mention of it and plays it off as a laughingly-friendly visit.

Drew appears. He is their heavily-built, family guard dog. As soon as he sees me he smiles with a panting tongue and races out their door to the woman's offspring's lazy annoyance. Outside in the dusk, Grace quickens her steps as we near the car. I open the back door and Drew jumps in with me. Grace acts under-pressure.

Rose, suddenly sitting in the passenger seat, rolls her eyes at our non-Christian ways and cheerily talks about her life. Her story is the usual self-promoting manipulations; I let Grace deal with her. Drew breathes heavy growls as he changes his position against me according to what window he's decided to look out.

Suddenly there is trouble, the matriarch’s son is seen in the yard of a passing house. He gives an expression of recognition and looks to be running toward his truck in order to over take us.

After Grace carefully races through the long garage, I step out to open the large, wooden doors again. Rose lets Drew out of the vehicle as I step out of the open back-door of the Lincoln but I don't realize until Grace has driven through the doorway and I've locked it back from the outside.

'Am instantly mournful for Drew and inconsolably angry at Rose as Grace races away, exhaling her relief.

“Oh, stop,” Rose retorts with a sharp laugh. “He wasn't your dog anyway.”

We return to the restaurant with Rose. The young waitress is extra cordial as she leads us to a linen-dressed table, having noticed we are close siblings living long-apart. Grace's friends fill the restaurant and keep around the table. Finally, I escape from them, pretending I am hanging out at the bar in the back of the restaurant, its long, tree-trunk of a bar making me feel like my rural self. Planning to sneak back to my townhouse and move out while they are eating, I step outside the restaurant into an enormous, Christmas-decorated shopping mall, a maze I remain unable to find the way out of.

__________


(Wednesday, 23NOV2011)


(midnight)


“Busy on holiday eves,” the emergency room nurse says.

'Told them triple C's, a part of House's methodical school of narcotics, because I figure they won't call the police.

__________


(Wednesday, 30NOV2011)


(night)


Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for two-years now, I keep getting farther, then going back, making it last, aging to a hundred years old. Seven days ago I began the last chapter and started the book over again. That night I shifted to Mocando silent in the dead of night as the last Aureliano stepped out of the Buendia house onto the veranda surrounded by pots of oregano and ferns and begonias resting on a railing of blossomed rose bushes clinging. I reached the last chapter again within this sleepless week as ancient secrets fell into place like puzzle pieces.

“It's like jumping seasons,” I say to her.

She absent-mindedly hums a note in place of the question.

“You're doing it faster than the other guy, maybe too fast – might have accomplished it in the wrong season.”

“Never scratch the whole thing.”

Everything about her means baby.

Somehow I know Mother Nature gave birth to her immaculately. I wanted to write a short story about a guy who literally suspected he was dating an angel, but the fun, difficult articulations would be on what every guy already knew.

“... Like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde,” I am telling her. “Dr. Jeckyl must know and understand Mr. Hyde, otherwise he is an innocent dunce fighting insanity … “ In the twilight of caressed skin and satisfied limbs she loves me to make up stories. “It's called the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” I tell her. “The more aware you are, the braver and more purposeful you have to be about being good, but also the more adaptable you are. As you grow older you get happier and unhappier at the same time, like an old tree, witnessing as civilizations rise and fall.” Her skin is like salve to mine, her legs intimidating, saying: dare you.

Deep in the silence of night, as she sleeps on her back, her right forearm against her forehead, I pack methodically for no reason, same as I did to the house following deployment. I made daily trips to the landfill, the Jeep full of boxes. At night while watching bad television I minimized my wardrobe, undressing and trying on clothes as if I were deciding their worth to carry. Two hours later I hide the two suitcases – one large and leather, the other small and hard enough to sit on when upright – under the bed, then crawl under the sheets as she turns toward me, her right hand landing between my neck and chest, her eyes closed and her lips slightly open in that expression her and Royal always have when they sleep.

“More professors have gotten a hold of the writings,” I whisper. At first it was fun, like in the summer, when Seda and Theresa were using up all their ammo over a short story already titled: The Edit. I wonder about the journals and notebooks of writings, if they will be needed or should be burned. “The professors are making fools of themselves again.” I pause listening to the wind outside, as if that would be what wakes her up. “I'll have to figure something out.”

__________


(Wednesday, 7DEC2011)


After Bible study last week, Mrs Marrissa, Mrs. Rose, and I sat and talked for hours in confidence. Before leaving I share with them the anonymously written work online.

“Read it like fiction,” I say to her as Mrs. Marrissa and I step down the steps of her brick, story-book house. “It was to be a novel.”

This week the Bible study hides little. It takes till the end to realize they've judged the work as if it were written selfishly.

“Homosexuality is abominable,” insists Mrs. Rose for ten minutes. “They're storytellers – lazy heterosexuals. Our successful society is now destroying itself due to its own wealth, modernism, and hedonism.”

“The world is over-populated,” I offer from my chair. “What if the homosexuals were intended.”

“What's wrong with him not wanting to end up with someone not his equal,” the husband says.

“It's all about attitude,” another woman says. “Some people don't have thick skin. Can't get over things.”

“It has to be understood that women are subordinate,” says Mrs. Rose.

"So are women equal or not ... " I ask Mrs. Rose.

She gapes at me.

“He could've been a sports writer – I mean,” the husband of the woman suddenly says. He turns his head toward me across Mrs Rose's rose colored couch: “Not everyone's born to be a preacher.”

“Called by God and doesn't even know it,” says the leader of our group, Mr Wheat, across to Mrs. Rose.

“An actual church would be like a needle in a haystack,” I reply to the husband, confused. “If someone has a knack for it, they fill the voids at the other churches.”

“I don't mean there's anything wrong with our church,” he says, as if in apology to the rest of the group.

“Instead they're sitting around, studying micro-biology,” replies Mrs. Rose replies to his wife.

“Keeping some kind of personal score card,” Mr. K__ says suddenly, as if to no one, but he does that. “Boys are born around bad men and their worst nightmare is to grow up because they don't believe the male gender is inherently good.”

“Would you rather have your conscience, or the Bible … “ I ask Mr. Wheat.

“The Bible,” he answers.

“Oh … “ I reply.

I am called upon to read aloud from Hebrews, chapter twelve, where God disciplines his sons: “You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons,” I recite slowly.

As I read Mr. K__ leans against my couch cushion, so that his head is near my shoulder. He looks down at the Bible, then up to my reading eyes, then repeats, mockingly.

“'My son,” I continue. “Do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as son.”

“Hallelujah,” exclaims Mrs. K__ into sober silence.

__________


(Saturday, 24DEC2011, Christmas Eve)


'Noticed the pictures on the old man's wall. Two grandsons stand beside each other, one clench-jawed, his girlfriend at his side with a similar, insecure expression, the other smiling, exuberant, with a good-looking girl at his side.

“He's … tough,” the grandfather tells me of the younger grandson, as if he wants to say more.

“Yeah, my youngest was a boxer – into sports,” the father, Mr. K__, tells me later over cigarettes. “Hellova left hook. My eldest is a computer guy. Making good money now. They've both just graduated from college.”

“You know how I built my credit?” the younger grandson says that night, kindly looking toward me as if I were apart of the conversation. “I went to American Eagle and signed up for one of their cards. A year later I happened to have enough credit for a regular credit card, so I gave the American Eagle one up.”

“You should have kept it,” says Mr. K__, sitting beside him on the couch.

The two sons and the father interrupt each other for a few seconds.

“You don't know what you're talking about,” the younger says to his father. “Yeah – but don't have to ARgue,” the younger says as if to his brother sitting beside him, but really he says it in general. “Google it,” he says to Mr. K__.

I'd rather be absent than have to handle my father that way, even though the son had little choice, leaning into his temper, despite the father's embarrassed expression. Otherwise, the younger treats everyone genuinely well, is effortlessly kind. He keeps his eye on me but he doesn't smoke so we merely exchange understanding looks as socializing commences at the dinner party.

Upon leaving, we both shake firmly. “Good to have met you,” I say.

“And I hope to see you again sometime,” he says.

“Yes, absolutely,” I reply lowly, wary of how he makes me sad and white-knuckled same as with Willahford and Royal – live flesh with human dignity retained this whole time.

__________


(Monday, 9JAN2012)


(morning)


“History is the record of what people have done in the past. In this context the past can mean ten thousand years ago or yesterday. History depends on evidence of the past. What has happened but been forgotten or for which no evidence exists – which is, of course, the vast majority of what has happened – is technically not history,” – World Civilizations, Volume 1: To 1700, Fifth Edition, Philip J. Adler, Randall L. Pouwels, page nine – “Why this happened is problematic. Some believe bloody warfare erupted between competing species of hominoids; others posit a peaceable, gradual absorption by the more advanced species. A good example of these failed species is the famous Neanderthal Man, who flourished in many parts of Europe until thirty-thousand years ago and then disappeared at about the same time that Homo sapiens appeared in Europe.”

“Every civilization includes what we call a Creation Myth,” the World Civilizations professor says. “Why might that be?”

“A story that could be told to kids … “ I reply. “As close to the truth without being vulgar.”

“Maybe,” he says as other classmates join in and the story of Adam and Eve is told and referenced.

“So we're supposed to feel ashamed for breaking from the animals and putting on clothes … “ I ask. “Ashamed of our own sense of shame – our own conscience.”

“The fall of man,” he says with a twinkle in his eye, holding his hand up in parenthesis.

___________


(mid-morning)


“Economics is a social science,” the Macroeconomics professor lectures. “Judging what society is demonstrating, thinking ...

“If you can choose not to satisfy a need it is not a need. Notice how suicidals do not believe there is any more satisfaction available to them. Notice how the elderly will choose human dignity over survival ...

“Money is not a resource. Time is. You are your own asset, one that invests in him or herself so as to sell to the highest bidder ...

“Economics is the allocation of limited resources toward the end result of satisfaction … happiness. Every human whether the masses or the few at the top – every human is motivated the same...

"Overseas, we are the joke of the world because we find anything not directly marketed to us distasteful. I think it is really the consumer. Ask a sociology professor why selfless acts are always viewed with selfish eyes."

__________


(afternoon)

“A willingness to give up resources,” lectures the Macroeconomics professor. “We are – willing to buy. This is called Demand. Demand does not mean product is available or possible to obtain. Everyone of you is willing to buy a new car. Will you trade that Sprite bottle for a new Mustang?”

“Yes,” I reply.

“Willingness to sell is what we call Supply. Both are occurring in what is called The Market … One man in Canada began with one red paper clip and traded his way up to a house. A kid in America started with a used Motorola and traded up to a Porsche Boxer … His parents made him turn it in for an Explorer.

“Money is simply a trade simplification, because this is a pure-trade economy ... What is it that most decides Value?” he says in aside to a student. “The price influencing whether or not you buy it is the final peace of the puzzle, not the first. Do not overestimate the consumer – they have their own situations, their own wants.

“There are normal goods: things we naturally buy more of when income is increased: gas, groceries … And there are inferior goods: things you would spend less on if you had more money: Ramen Noodles. The second factor: Taste and Preference. Do we always want the highest quality good ...”

__________


(Monday, 23JAN2012)


(morning)


“And do you not find this email to sound angry?” the Dean asks.

“No,” Cain replies. “Your professors are still harassing me. Your psychology and religions professors tried to drive me crazy so I wouldn't remember what they already knew. Now you've got two history professors and a biology professor trying the same. ”

“We have to do an investigation,” the Dean replies. “Maybe you can continue here, maybe not.”


(1000)


Standing over the kitchen sink, 'am so calm I know I can watch my wrist bleed out for hours. Raging on chemicals, calm as death, Cain turns away, steps outside the apartment, drives away.


(1020)


At the church, Cain says: “I need to be driven to the nearest VA.”

“Why?” Pastor Tango asks. “What do I tell them you need?”

“I don't know,” Able sighs, looking away, then back to the pastor.

“Immediately,” Cain says.

Pastor Tango grabs his keys.


(1120)


The psychology-student's rapid fire questions, the pastor present, acting stunned by the clear, tragic answers.

“And sex?” he asks.

“I was the only one in my family with sexual boundaries.”


(evening)


The hospital is only a few miles from my Castro grandparents. Grandma answers the phone.

“None of us in the family agreed with the war, and there you were in uniform,” she explains.

While we are exchanging more pleasantries a nurse walks up to me to let me know the VA had claimed me – I was honorably discharged in November – but the only bed open in the State was in the mountains, a long drive from here. I'd be leaving in the morning.

“I've got to go, Grandma,” I say into the phone.

She asks about Grace. “The more she is in my life, the more trouble in my life,” I tell her. “The less, the less. It’s always been like that, since I was eighteen.”

“Apparently she was offended by her grandfather. We never heard from her after that.”

“When she knocked on your door she was expecting a grandfather, not him.”

“If Grandpa answers the phone next time you call, just ask for me.”

__________