She sits at the small square table by the half-open window, now in his chair, trying to feel his angle, again wearing the white sun dress but now with gray wool leggings below and a crimson cardigan unbuttoned above. Her hair is down and a single silver strand glints in the gradually approaching dusk. The sky beyond the window is sharp and cloudless, and the fading embers of day are being pushed down over the edge of an uneven horizon of autumn treetops now turned red, orange, yellow, brown, pushed down by the ever-deepening purplishness of evening’s onset. The sweet, pungent aroma of decline is carried into the room by cool air like an offering of resting peace.
I worked in a suburban office compound building replete with floors and elevators and front deskmen and cube farms and conference rooms and soullessness and on our floor there was a bathroom and in that bathroom there were stalls and in one of those stalls was a chipped floor tile.
Part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here. Or else.
She sits in her chair at the same small square table by the same open window, a sultry, hazy sky beyond, air like bath water in both hue and temperature and stillness, air soaked up by the same hills and trees, same curtains, same oxalis, same tablecloth, now still and languid, though, same newspaper, but now laid flat, flat and folded on his side of the table. It’s how she feels too, she thinks, folded and flat, as she looks around the room with an almost purely peripheral gaze, almost at the paper, almost at his empty chair across from her, pushed in, then completely out the window, staring without seeing into the spaces around her.
From chaos and conflict to harmony. See chaos and know the underlying harmony. Connect with it. The path, the way, they say. Maybe it starts with that bad story I wrote a few years ago about a sidewalk encounter, the one I once upon a time shared with my long lost friend in Mexico who was kind enough to give me some good advice, always kind enough to be honest. She was and I presume still is—I should run this by her and confirm.
This is the first of a four-part storyish kind of thing. Trying something a little new here—well, the story’s old, or the idea for it anyway, but I’m sharing it anew.
It is morning, spring, and he sits by the open window at the small, square table covered in a light linen tablecloth with trim of crocheted lace. The window is hung with aphotic green curtains, almost black, like the undersides of the trees at the forest’s edge a stone’s throw or so beyond, pulled back and fastened with cream tassel to taupe walls. A white-flowered oxalis in a rust red pot is perched on the broad, thick-painted sill, its jittery leaves fluttering each time a gust of forenoon breeze picks up and joins them, and he thinks nothing of it, next to nothing of any of it, nearly nothing at all, just goes on reading his newspaper, absorbing words because they’re there. His long, grey wool-trousered legs are casually crossed, angled from the table so his back is partly to the window, mostly to the wall, the sleeves of his white cotton shirt are rolled to the elbows, top three buttons unbuttoned, and his high-arched feet are bare, the left one firm and assured on the worn wood floor.
This is the story of Francisco—pejoratively called Frankie, unbeknownst to him—the middle-aged, denim-jacketed, long-haired pseudo-revolutionary Executive Director of a small NGO singing songs and playing guitar with his little makeshift band of false rebels, primary among them the incomparable minion Sonya de la Torre on tambourine, the pride and joy princess fresh out of community college with fresh red lipstick and caked make-up, no one on harmony, just a couple other drifters in the room, together butchering “Blowin In The Wind” rather than engaging in budget negotiations that would keep the organization and its programs afloat while our “engagement specialist” sat at his desk trying to tune all that out-of-tune clanging. What can we do? Frankie’d (always) say (about every fucking thing). What more can I say, I ask, you, now? Some, seems, so I will.
This story is not about to be recited, only retold. I just want you to know I’m sticking to the rules. We’re all grown folks here and what do grown folks do if not retell.