which meant, according to the instructions of the deceased, no funeral was permitted,
Jim’s friends high-tail’d it to his dad’s restaurant, the only one worth a damn
in that near-worthless town, and because we were men and women by now,
we drank the rest of the afternoon and as far into the night as sobriety would allow,
the boys taking the girls into the bedrooms of Elaine’s father’s house, and doing there
what boys and girls have always done in the course of a wake, namely, fucking.
In the kitchen some guys sat at the table in the middle of the floor so everyone
who entered had to go around, one way or the other, and we told stories of Jim,
never mentioning his women, only his relentless desire to excel on the gridiron.
I told the story of how I ran down the sideline barreling into the quarterback
returning our punt, he fumbled, Jim watching calmly before reentering the game
to score the decisive touchdown, an eighty-five yard run–no, more like a piledriver . . .
You don’t know about Elaine unless you heard what came before here, how she swam
in her father’s pool naked and invited the workman to shuck his duds and come in,
and he did, and now she did the same thing after all the people left, Irene went home
after asking me if she could give me a ride, I said Sure, then once I was home I drove
back and Elaine invited me into the pool, just like Jim said she’d invited him in,
and right then and there we made whoopee, just a rich girl and poor boy doing it.
After we lay by the pool drying with dawn giving way to sunrise and the summer sun
warming our bodies, Elaine told me she really had loved Jim but he didn’t love her.
She knew about Patsy and Mary Lou and I told her about Emily now, it helped her,
she said, to know Jim could love a woman both shy and proud all in the same body.
I tried to make her understand why I loved Irene, she said she thought she knew,
then I followed her to the bedroom and slept with her after we made love again .
I don’t want to go too far and tell everything at once, but my dead are everywhere
now, they are legion as the Good Book says, and it will all get told in time, wait
around if you want. Irene and I went to mass next day and you know how that was,
how we drove to the overlook and made love and then stayed there long enough
to make love again and again, and pretty soon it was night once more, the moon
looked full like a face could fit inside, the stars glittered like little coals in the fire.
Elaine and I saw each other once more, and then she went off to study painting
in Seattle, where I happened to be by then but neither one of us knew the other
was around, which was good, we would never have accomplished what we wanted.
Irene stayed in Granger. That first year she visited more than once, riding the bus,
then I never saw her again. The city took me over. I turned archaeologist, I said
to Jacqui, the girl who was faithful from then on and until I married the redhead.
(30 December 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander