Old Business

By Robert Starr

Sure I really miss they way things were, the way everything used to be. Who doesn稚? You do too, I知 sure, but you always tell me everything has a rational explanation when you see my dreamy nostalgic smile, that I was just too young and romantic back then to see it.

But I know what you say is all wrong, and I know given you or me, I値l go my way every time.

So we値l sit opposite each other on wooden chairs in my stark room where the light comes in through the window in a pie shaped wedge of orange brown light, and I値l look over at the dust motes dancing their impenetrable geometry that you would call random but not mysterious before I start.

And we値l rehash it all over again starting off sitting less than three feet away from each other and winding up the usual miles apart.

April 1969.

To be fair to you, to be 叢recise as you like to say, I don稚 remember if it was really April, but I know the old neighbourhood had just come out of winter. Spring and the birds had just shaken themselves awake, so I値l guess at the month. But I know for sure it was 1969, and the air felt like it was smiling and full of hope.

Anyway, even before I fully woke up that day, in the split second where I was awake but hovering with orange eyelids on the edge of another day痴 adventures, I heard something outside my bedroom window- a soft padding of stealth feet making a quick getaway on the dewy grass

"At first I hid under the covers," I致e told you and you smile and say nothing as though I致e proven myself already in your eyes, as though your unshakable case is being slowly cemented in place with my words.

"Then I took a deep breath, flung the covers off, and raced over to my window," I say looking back to the spiralling dust for support when I realise this part sounds like the reality you致e wanted me to see, the start of a youthful imaginary adventure.

And yes I did find the window ajar; yes, it had been pried open but not quite pried out, and I held my breath and stuck my face against the mesh to look out until I realised I couldn稚 see under my chin, then I jumped back.

"Yes, Yes," I tell you rushing to concede and gloss over the points in your favour, " I was horrified at first to think that someone had tried to break in and take my things, maybe everything I had in the world."

I spun and looked around my bedroom, and, bolstered when I saw everything intact, I ran out the side door and into the backyard where I saw the neighbour flash in between two houses behind us.

"Call the police," his wife yelled her voice breaching the early morning calm. I stopped there in our backyard, frozen at the rim of the prints left in the grass like I壇 suddenly found myself at the edge of a cliff.

"You were displacing, romanticizing realty," you say to me shaking your head slightly that I won稚 see it for what you do.

And that痴 where we always part for good- two tributaries flowing away with hard clay and earth between them. There痴 no hope we might meander back together after that because I know those soft dents in my parent痴 backyard had three toes on each foot. I know I saw them and stared long enough to watch the wet grass slowly close up to cover their identity.

"Television affecting your mind," you致e said without hesitating or wavering, without adding or subtracting words over time to emphasize your point. I never say anything here: arguing would give the impression my position can weaken. I just glance momentarily at the symmetrical dust dancing to an unheard song and know I can go on with the rest of my story.

"I ran around the neighbourhood," and I hold your gaze and let you know I知 as stubborn as you are, that I can butt up against you logic, match you word for word, syllable for syllable.

And I did run around, speeding up at every house corner, stopping before I壇 jump quickly in front of every open shed, not wanting the prize to slip away.

I知 always silent for a moment here, looking away from you at the warm memory of those bright wood homes and big cars, those flowing lawns stretching to childhood痴 horizon and tinkling glasses of ice-cubed lemonade springing out from behind every door. But you always shift slightly in your chair to bring me back, a quick impatient scratch to deny me my nostalgia.

"No, I never saw what made those prints," I say, always mad you致e brought me back full circle to this world, and you don稚 have to say there were never reports of anything strange in the papers.

But I know those prints. I know I saw them and to hand them over to you, to stuff them into a box built by your kind of thinking would make the noiseless symphony at my window just dirt.

"Roswell was a weather balloon," you finish in a deep voice, rolling your hands palms up in final pronouncement before starting for the door.

And I sit with my eyes shut tight, waiting patiently until the click of the door tells me you致e left.

The End

Copyright © 2004 by Robert Starr


E-mail: r.starr@sympatico.ca


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