The voice at 5.00 AM

My kids do their homework and I realize I don’t know a single thing. There is no knowledge, only vague memories such as, things chemical involve electrons. Or, there was a literary style known as expressionism. Everything else is pure guesswork or less, pure making shit up.

Like: until you hit the ground, you can’t be sure whether you’re flying or falling.

Looking for a necktie this morning, it occurred to me that my father never abandoned me on the bridge at Multnomah Falls. As a young boy I had a phobia that I would be abandoned at a landmark of some sort, a park, or perhaps a bus depot.

My father was a bus driver, I saw the inside of a lot of bus depots; baggage rooms and driver rooms and dispatch offices.

It is, I suppose, a phase we go through, wanting to abandon our children, and I must have picked up on those vibes as a boy.

I was the first one into the office this morning. A phone was ringing somewhere with that mysterious potential native to unanswered ringing phones.

It was early in the morning when my mother called to tell me of my father’s death. Her voice was naked and quiet. I cried after I hung up. Then I sat on the edge of my bed and remembered how strong my father’s arms had seemed when he held me when I was little. He wore plaid pendleton wool shirts and smelled of wool and work and tobacco and lumber and diesel.

Even now, I still love wool and work and lumber and quiet, decent men, and the smell of tobacco and diesel.

Z was a little old lady I went to grade school with. I thought about her this morning, driving into work. She was blond and small for her age. She had curly hair and thick glasses and elderly parents. Elderly parents! And they gave her a name that started with Z!

Each year she was taken out of class for heart surgery. When we square danced, the teacher made me dance with her because I was the nicest boy. I also was assigned the task of helping her catch up with school work when she returned from hospital.

She died in the fourth grade. Nowadays, such a kid might have a better chance. Back then, maybe, the surgeons stood around after the ether put her out and thought, Jesus, what now. I imagine their tools looked like something out of your father’s toolbox, just sterile.

I don’t think about Z very often, but when I do it feels as if I’m always thinking about her. Like a theme in some very long composition that when you hear it, you think, this is what ties everything together.

3 responses to “The voice at 5.00 AM

  1. jadedju

    Wow. I’m all teary and it’s your fault.

  2. k.

    yes. this is all why i’m glad, in the whole wide world, i ever found metamorphosism.

  3. You’re still a nice boy. It seems to me that the dead share joint tenancy in many of my own memories too….linked only by their deadness….not so much by their lives.