Family history…

what was it you were talkin’ ’bout…some kinda ghost story wasn’t it…some tale from a long time ago…maybe a family history or somethin’ like that…

was talkin’ ’bout the way this sadness lingers in my family tree…heard that my great grand daddy was a real sad fella…heard he used to take off and leave town when he got depressed…would wind up a few states over…sometimes they’d find him in Mexico…all drunked up and broke…other times he’d be ‘cross the border in Oklahoma…said he shacked up with some Injun women over there from time to time…nobody was really sure…never saw her…they were just rumors…

how’d he die…what happened to him…

hung himself from a tall oak one night over in Henderson…didn’t leave a note behind or anything…couple of whiskey bottles down below his feet danglin’…left a whole family behind…had trouble holdin’ onto a job…was always gettin’ fired from ’em…guess he got tired of it…got tired of all of it…

what ’bout your grand daddy…

he was a roustabout too…had trouble with the bottle himself…he’s the one that found great grand daddy hangin’ from that tree…said it did somethin’ to him…wasn’t quite right after that…he worked on the railroads…when he wasn’t loadin’ coal he’d be drinkin’ in the back car…always had a flask on him…used to could smell the gin from a mile away on him…had a big red nose…we used to honk it while we sat in his lap and he was passed out in the Lazyboy…passed out one day and just never woke up…grandma said he was takin’ a long nap…told us to go out in the cornfields and play for a spell…when we came back grandpa was gone…never heard from him again…

did your daddy drink too…

never touched it…drank soda pop like it was goin’ outta style…would go through a twelve pack a day…drank Pepsi from sun up to sun down…quiet man…never said much…we could tell when he was blue though…sometimes he’d spend two or three days in bed…not movin’ a muscle…just layin’ there waitin’ for the lord to take him…

when did the lord take him…

much later in life…when I was a grown-up…died of a massive heart attack…some said he was broken hearted from when momma left him for another man ‘cross town…said he never recovered from that…I can’t rightly say if that’s true or not…wound-up spendin’ his last few days in a rented sleepin’ room over on Broadway…that’s where they found him…sometimes at night I see him walkin’ ’round my house…doesn’t smile or anything…just walks ’round with an empty glass in his hand…look right at him sometimes…he don’t look back…

how you think you’re gonna go…

not rightly sure…could be one of a million ways…hell…I could take a vacation and die on a flight over seas…never gettin’ to see Ireland…always wanted to see Ireland…could die in the backyard while rakin’ up leaves…don’t rightly know…but it’s comin’…I know it’s comin’…

Goin to Vegas…

where you headin’…

Vegas…

ever been there…

nope…

gonna make a fortune at the blackjack table…try your luck at roulette…why are you goin’ to Vegas…of all the places…I get scared of towns like that…pretend Paris…made-up Manhattan…doesn’t seem right…

I’m sure there’s other places ‘sides those…

yeah I’m sure there’s some town folk that go to real bars…24 hour diners…coffee shops that aren’t shiny and new…getta piece of pie or somethin’ that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg…what are ya gonna do out there for work…

I’m going to work at a pawn shop…just like the one on tv…getta job there and be a star…that’s ’bout the gist of it…

yeah…I see…how old are you…

seventeen…just quit high school…ready to make my fortune…see some things I’ve never seen ‘fore…

uh huh…I’ll bet you will…gotta nuff cash on ya…

a bill…

a bill…that’s it…

yeah….

that’ll be gone ‘fore ya get there…spend it on food and pop…

I figure if I keep back $50 til I get there that’ll be nuff to play the slots with…could make some money there…

are you delusional…you think ya just put a quarter in and out comes a fortune…hell…you’re not even legal to gamble…did’ya think of that…

lied ’bout my age ever since I was a kid…people always told me I looked older…

I see…got any ID on ya…

gotta license I got last year…

and you got that bill on ya huh…

yep…

you know kid…you talk too much…real eager to tell people your business…think people really care…think they’re concerned with your well-being… give me the bill son…

what…

said give me the bill…not playin’ ’round with you…you think I’m not packin’…I prey on punks like you…hand it over…teach you a valuable lesson…you should be grateful…

it’s all I got…

well…now you got nothin’ but a bus ticket…give it to me…

here…

see you’re payin’ me for my advice…don’t ever tell anyone your intentions…keep your business to yourself…got it…(the kid nodded his dirty blonde head) now good luck to ya…and…don’t take any wooden nickels…

and it is Autumn…

and it is Autumn…

your snow boots sit outside on the porch…next to a rake and an old folded newspaper in a bag…rust drips down from a gutter…

and it is Autumn…

dust has collected on the desk where you once sat…writing thoughts down…keeping one eye on a dog as you read poetry with the other…you never gave anything it’s full attention…

and it is Autumn…

leaves on houseplants shine…bottles of aspirin sit next to tonic…a copper mug for Moscow Mules…half a pie is gone…reading glasses haven’t been used in years…

and it is Autumn…

there are no paintings nor pictures on walls…lampshade is crooked…the knitted quilt you forbade me to use now covers a bed with lumps in the mattress…

and it is Autumn…

and…you are not here…

man-kind

wrote a letter to ya…

oh yeah…

can’t remember where I put it…

misplaced it huh…

guess you could say that…

what’d it say…

lots of things…asked how you were gettin’ along in your new life…talked ’bout how I missed ya and all…think ’bout ya…sometimes I’ll be in the kitchen and the most random things’ll cross my mind…strange things…like when we used to celebrate holidays together with your family…I’ll be thinkin’ ’bout Christmas and it’s August…

yeah…I know that feelin’…

do ya…you think ’bout me like that sometimes…

sometimes…can’t help it…we were together so long…hard not to…but then the bad stuff comes up…

yeah…bad stuff…how we couldn’t get along…how we wanted kids…broke half the time…

you were always cheatin’ on me…thought I didn’t know but I knew…you were galavantin’ ’round the country with a woman in every state…caught on after a while…

how’d you know…

you’re no different from the rest…tell me you’re goin’ out for a beer and I knew you were goin’ over to some whore house ‘cross town…that’s why you were always broke…that’s why you were always dippin’ into savins…

sorry…

I’d get so mad…didn’t know what to do with myself…my grand daddy was the same way…my daddy too…all of ’em…you men just can’t be trusted…

no…no we can’t…guess it’s always been that way…man’s gotta screw whatevers in front of him…I’m guilty… I know that…and on behalf of man-kind I apologize to ya…

yeah well…one I got now is the same way…we just keep repeatin’ ourselves don’t we…well…better than bein’ alone I guess…I guess…

I’ll see if I can find that letter for ya…

that’s OK…you done told me what’s in it…

what’s that…

more lies…

fat man…

what’re we spose to do ’bout it…out of ideas…it’s almost like you get to a point where nothin’ matters in this world…willin’ to just let things go…slip right by ya without even pausing for a second to look and see if you’re in the clear…, the fat man said as he loaded sugar into his coffee…,and it’s not like we haven’t been here ‘fore…, the moon glowed outside the diner’s window…, there’s this thing ’bout us that keeps on repeating throughout life…ya have one tragedy you’re bound to have a few more…can’t stop it…just the way life is…,he motioned to the waitress to fill his cup…smiled…added cream from the little packets on the table…,hell…I been tryin’ for years to figure it out…could be generational…folks just stopped carin’…won’t even open a door for ya anymore…in fact they’ll shut it in your face and go ’bout laughin’…just not any manners anymore…very uncarin’ society…sounds like I’m preachin’ huh…, the young man sitting across the table from him smiled…slurped on a Coke through a straw…, all this progress…seems to me we’re goin’ backwards…

backwards…

yeah…backwards…then again…maybe I was just as cocky when I was a kid…just can’t remember it…the mind plays tricks on ya…, a semi put on it’s air brakes makin a screechin’ sound…now the moon was covered in clouds…the fat man man blew his big red nose with a handkerchief he pulled from his hip pocket…took another swig of coffee while a group of younguns come through the door…all of ’em decked out in letterman’s jackets from the nearby high school…big S’s on their chests…whoopin’ and a hollerin’ ’bout beatin’ the other team…typical Friday night in the Midwest…

see what I mean…

what’s that…

nothin’s done with any nobility anymore…guy makes a touchdown the whole team celebrates in the end zone…dancin’ and carryin’ on…actin’ a fool…and they do the same things at board meetings and bar rooms ‘cross this country…a whole country of people spikin’ the ball ‘stead of handin’ it to the ref as though they’d been there before…, waitress walked over with the coffee pot…the fat man placed his hand above the cup and shook his head no…placed a dollar bill on the table and stood up…adjusting his pants…

where ya goin’…

goin’ for a ride… gonna chase the moon…’bout all I have to look forward to anymore…it’ll come out from behind those clouds soon enough…I’m gonna watch it turn into sun…

back to business…

his fists were as hard as the jawbone of an ass…kept throwin’ a left to the gut with a combination of the right hitting me square in the face…broken nose…black and blue eyes…sore joints…busted ribs…these things take place…

and he wanted money…I told him we all wanted money…didn’t have a dime to my name…shoes had holes in em…

he said…,show me your pockets…let me see the billfold…,thought I could take him…thought I could…

so…I threw the first punch…wasn’t going to run…nor give in…soon found out his large black hands had gold on em…the bleeding began…

only gotta few good shots in…mostly to his body…a thick trunk that stood tall…lights out on Harrison hid the obvious…a massive man…should’ve never thrown that punch…

on the street I laid there as the big man kicked with his leather shoes…begged him to stop…weeping like a beat dog…howlin’ at the moon…

You ain’t got nothin’ for me…,he asked….nothin’ in your pockets bitch…he said…,I shook my head…,now you broke and beat up…,he walked away…leaving me like a garbage bag on the cobble stone street…laying there like a beat prize fighter in the ring…don’t get up…stay down…stay down…

him…he went back to business…

some noises…

what was it you heard out there…some kinda dog…a coyote…maybe opossum rummaging through garbage…

you hear strange things at night…somethings you can’t describe…just some kind of noise…maybe it’s ghosts talkin’…

could be…very well could be…spirits speakin’ to us…old spooks from the past…not meanin’ any harm…shouldn’t be afraid…their time has come and gone…just lettin’ us know ’bout it…

you ever seen one…some spirit in the night…maybe lurkin’ ’round the house…checkin’ in on ya…

nope…but I’m not sayin’ that ain’t the case…just sayin’ I never seen one…

that’s ’cause they’re invisible…they make noises though…all kinds of racket…

some say seein’ is believin’…some say that…

sure is some strange noises at night…

yep…sure is…