Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dried Grapes

There is a zaggy road, forceful in its turns, ill-planned, that runs through Gum County and dumps out onto the kind of highway one would highlight with white signage. At the intersection, where one must decide on turning one way or the other - or just plowing into the barbed wire fence straight ahead - sits Donald Raisin.

                You could hardly call him a boy. But since no subset of women, men, peers, or queers would call him a man or a child, we can settle on boy. I guess you could call him a boy. His lower arms, glistening in the sun as he sits cross-legged juggling the chain of his 10-speed, are not vastly smaller than his upper arms. That is not to say either are entirely impressive specimens.

If you want impressive, and I’m sure you do, look closer at his eyes. The intensity is impressive. There, split diametrically by his skinny nose, flint and focus are poured together and laminated onto shining quarters, waiting to be spent.

Scattered across the path of his past are husks of former relationships. Without exception eviscerated, transparent and examinable, were anyone interested in examination. Donald slips his teeth over his lower lip without thinking. Thinking he must fix the bike to get home to get fed, he doesn’t notice the long shadow move across the passing lane behind him. Husks rustle, but Donald is too focused to allow osmosis of this information to infiltrate the forefront of his conscious thoughts.

Donald considers the issue at hand. Seven miles between himself and home. Jammed between points A and B, clumps of bike chain and oily, sequenced links. Donald moves methodically through the issue, placing force on the chain’s catch with his right hand and culling the extra chain into a manageable position with his left. Like a mechanic playing an oboe in the bassment with a cleft lip, Donald understands the importance of moving quickly through time.

Finally, all is in place. The bike stands up, as does Donald, and the shadow has taken to the sagebrush in the adjacent ditch. This is the essential precipice of the afternoon; bike, boy, shadow, enstanced and in transition between almost and ready. Donald is suddenly gone, still standing but no longer there, remembering with unequivocal alacrity the first time he ever felt fear. He is suddenly sure he needs to get home. Pumping the pedals, he flies past the Gum County sign, sure that he needs to get the hell home before Shane does.

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