I’m writing a story about my evening. In it, I take a walk up the road past Jablonski’s place to see if he should happen to be mudding that godforsaken concrete wall he’s been failing at for the last three winters.
I have a strong sense of how things will go in this story. It’s almost like I’m having visions. And since at this time of year at 8:00 the sun sets just above the branches high over the ridge, that ought to put Jablonski’s place in shadow. I can visit him without interrupting his slipshod labor.
I can see it all play out as I sit at my kitchen table drinking from the flask my father handed me on my wedding day with his characteristic disinterest.
But those days are gone, and I’m different now. For one thing, I’m real observant about nature. I give myself credit for that, since there’s no one else to do it for me. I’m not ashamed to confess that in recent months I’ve astounded myself with my observational skills. With all I’ve learned in this place where I never expected to come.
Fact one: the acoustics in my house are increasing. Sounds come back louder than before. It’s definitive, though not quite measurable. Sounds are not at all like they were when I was a kid. Now even the gas hissing on the range pierces my head like an ice pick.
The truth is I’ve always have had something of a supernatural level of observational perceptivity, going beyond just mere hand-eye coordination and keen hearing. Of course I’m talking about animal instincts. As a boy, I shot arrows at rabbits and lit tires on fire. In the woods, all five of my senses operated at once, my shoulders twitching left and right to every new sound. When you really listen, nature unfolds like a sheaf of papers. It has a density to it, it’s a material thing.
I came to make a habit of the physical properties of things, adding them to a database in my mind. Japanese samurais knew that intricate knowledge of nature, combined with brawn and speed, well… the potential devastation of such forces multiplying each other has occupied my mind and also put a dent on the living room décor.
My shelves are so packed with Kung Fu movies and westerns. I’ve seen them all many times, and I fear a time when there won’t be any new ones available. They don’t make them like they used to…
But I was saying. Tonight, and the story.
Well, in this story, I climb the hill in my work boots with my piece on my belt. I rehearse what I will say to the pudge-faced Jablonski about the fact that I’m packing heat. That’s something I want him to know and not forget.
Equally important, I think is, Sheryl Jablonski.
That’s it. Now the story is cooking, like my mind has cooked every since Sheryl turned the corner down at the garlic and olive festival in that lovely meadow behind the Laplanders place, and made that remark about certain clear liquids I’d been adding to my kale smoothies. She said she sure hoped that Rick, my sponsor, didn’t hear about this.
Now I find it irresistible and in time, I think she will too. She’ll appreciate a man taking matters into his own hands. That’s me. I’m that kind of man.
After taking care of Jablonski, I’ll walk up the gravel drive. The living room light will be on, and I’ll see her silhouette.
The Jablonski’s house sits on a wooded lot, far back from the road. The finches and woodpeckers and owls will be cooing and rapping their heads. The air will be silkily clear, like it is in the woods behind our place, which is now my place. (But it’s always been my place, so my father said.) My shoulders will twitch back, and my ears will perk up like a fox’s.
Evening brings the keenest perspectives, I find. Early nightfall reminds me of sharp objects.
It’s well agreed upon in this county that the Jablonski clan has been a blight on the landscape since back when the quarries ran and everybody wanted bluestone. Issues of conscience will be minimal. They always are when the greater good is at stake.
As I approach the window, my soft feet padding over the pine needles, the spongy uneven ground veined with roots which my feet know well, I’ll remember the view of the lighted window from the night of the party, the one they threw without inviting me.
It is an issue of the natural order of things.
In nature, it’s called rectification. It’s how matters are settled with the coyotes when there’s intrusion.
I dream of handing my father a certificate, and him taking it proudly in his hand—something that has never happened.
Later, I’ll I spend time in my workshop, getting things in order. There’s a place in back where she and I will be able to talk things out. I’ll ask her about the reunion show at the college in three weeks. I’ll get her to see that we should go together. That will be for the best. It will be just the thing to take Sheryl’s mind off the passing of her dear old dad.
That’s the story, now I’m just going to refill the flask one more time for the road, which will help this thing unfold just right. In the way that I want it to.