Monday, November 23, 2009

LXVII: Outer Space

Clarke knocked on my door at 8am. He let himself in and stood in my bedroom doorway. "Wake up. The Wiley's found gophers in their field. I can give you a ride."

"Fuck." I knew what that meant. A morning spent shooting. Shooting, with a hangover. "I don't want to wake up."

"Come on."

I threw on some clothes and grabbed my '22.

All these old-timers, and guys I went to high school with but now never talk to, walking in lines, killing. I was inclined to be in a foul mood. But I know we can't let gophers set in around here.

At 2pm Clarke dropped me off at the Trees. I pulled a tiny joint out of my pocket, alone in the silence of pre-winter. "Alright," I said to the branches, "it's getting cold. I won't be coming out here much 'till Spring." They can't hear me.

I wished I could've shown the Trees a snapshot of my morning. Instead, I inhaled and went to outer space.

That night I sent an email out to Dr. Remphrey.

LXVI: Clarke XII

Drunk with Clarke last night. Feeling sorry for ourselves in his living room after watching Kelly's Heroes. Peetsabooty was sleeping on the carpet in front of us. We were at a lull in the conversation when Clarke said, "I think life is generally a little disappointing."

"Yeah. A little," I replied. Too casually.

"The gifts I wanted to give were never needed."

"What gifts?"

"Oh, I dunno. The ways I'm good at being nice aren't helpful, and the ways I'm bad at it are."

I looked at Peetsabooty. He stared back with that vacant, soul-less look animals have. Nothing but instinct. Glassy eyes. Like a man exhausted at the end of a drunk.

Monday, November 16, 2009

LXV: Susan IV

Yesterday Susan got energetic and tried to pull me in. We were in my living room early in the afternoon planning our day. "Come on," she urged. So I tried to work up some enthusiasm. "Tonight we should do something," she said as I rose to my feet slowly from the couch. "Something fun."


She threw her arms around me. I grinned. She waited.

"We could go to a movie in Battleford," I offered.

"No," she said in mock disgust. "Not that."

"Umm," I began, with limited inspiration, "I dunno. Whadda you wanna do?"

"I dunno."

"We could invite some people over."

"I wanna do something, just me and you," she insisted.

"Alright. Like what?"

She looked at me impatiently, then sat down on my couch. I stood, watching her exhilaration settle.

"I don't know, Susan."

She sighed. I felt guilty somehow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

LXIV: Clarke XI

“Clarke, there’s nothing in Hafford.” I told him this while sitting in the lookout shed at the dump. He sent a weary look in my direction. “I mean, there’s nothing. Just some houses and a couple stores.”

“So move to a big city then.”

“Yeah.” My self-pity transformed itself into self-boredom. “Damn.”

“Or have kids.”


I wandered over to the Trees later in the day. I ran my fingers over the bark. Then I pressed my cheek against a knot. I could feel lines forming on my skin. Breathing hard I waited for the imprint. Thirty seconds.

I'm out of cigarettes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


“You know bananas are going extinct,” said Mr. Hung at work yesterday. We were working on a big order.

“What are you talking about?”

“Yeah. We’ve been genetically altering them so much that they’re just going to disappear.”

I was silent for a long time, watching Mr. Hung grate cheese as I chopped onions. “That’s amazing.”

He looked at me. “Yeah.”

“Oh man, I can’t believe that.” I stopped chopping and stared out the kitchen window. “Bananas? Crazy.”

Mr. Hung chuckled. "I thought you'd like that."

After work I delivered ten bagged meals to the Lions club.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

LXII: The Announcement II

“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” I said, “and I just don’t think it’s good for me to be going out there all the time for no reason.”

“What do you mean?” asked Mrs. Scurfield. Clarke was eyeing me carefully from the couch.

“Because I feel like it’s a waste. A waste of my life." I looked around the room for a supportive face. "What do you think, Susan?”

“I dunno,” she began. “It’s just, like, stupid. They’ve been such a big deal to you.”

“They are a big deal to you, Matthew,” said Mrs. Scurfield. “Clarke tells me you planted my seedling in your front yard. Why?”

I was feeling ambushed. “Because that’s what you do with plants your friends give you.”

Mr. Hung had an enormous grin on his face.

"Bullshit," said Clarke.

“So none of you think it’s a good idea?” I asked, frustrated and meek.

“Of course not,” said Susan. She stood up. “Who wants wine?”

Susan took over my hosting responsibilities, so I was free to vanish into the haze of whiskey and beer. I woke up the next morning on my couch with a headache. I opened my eyes and saw Clarke sleeping on a chair. I wandered into my room searching for fresh clothes. Mrs. Scurfield lay on my bed snoring, face-down and fully-clothed on top of the blankets.

Susan was in the kitchen making coffee.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

LXI: The Announcement I

Clarke, Mrs. Scurfield, Susan, Birdie, and Mr. Hung; everyone was assembled in my living room for the party, drinks in hand. Standing alone in the corner I cleared my throat. “I have an announcement.” The room got quiet.

“No kidding,” said Clarke.

“I’m done with the Trees. No more obsessing. I’ve decided.” I shifted my feet.

“What?” asked Susan.

“I just think I can’t let my life revolve around them anymore.”

“No,” said Mrs. Scurfield.



“Whadda you mean?”

“I mean, No, you can’t be ‘done’ with them.”

“Yeah,” said Birdie, “I don’t like this.”

I was shocked. Mr. Hung looked amused.