Jul 28, 2008
The Subtle Art of Disappearing
It was late at night and she was fiddling with a small, AM radio that we bought at a yard sale earlier; when the heat of the day made it unbearable to be alive in the brutal south. But there, in the relative cool of the evening, we finally got some sad warbling from tinny-voiced country and western singers who were wailing lamentations for honky-tonk nights, winking beer signs and the lost love of nearly nameless cocktail waitresses. The smoke-scarred voice of the deejay told us just what the weather was like in Topeka Kansas. We both looked up at the sky then and wondered what kind of miracle in the Ionosphere allowed us the hear these musings from a place that seemed light years away from the life we were busy living.
There was almost no breeze on the night air and we milked every one we could get by turning to face into them when they happened by and they soaked up all the heat we could give them and then moved on, heavier by tiny degrees for the moisture they picked up off our bare skin.
The static and crackle drifted out of the hand-held speaker and reminded us that other people were living their own lives and desperate times and we knew that our respite was short enough in the few hours we had found. But we tried to make the best of it anyway.
“Sure is hot,” she said.
I nodded. “Yeah, sure is.”
We had lost all of the energy we had earlier when we wasted too much money on dirty curtains and a portable typewriter that I had pecked out no more than ten words on before the ribbon went limp with the humidity and smudged across the paper in indecipherable glyphs and splatters that we tried, half-heartedly, to decode before the night really came down.
We kept a keen eye out for the Night People that tended to drift by whenever we sat out there watching the stars come out but they were conspicuously absent and the world was quiet like it was trying to keep a secret too big for its own head. We couldn’t get any kind of good stories going and none of our weird friends showed up unannounced to tell us what we had been missing. The whole place was deserted and she wondered, like she always does, if the Zombie Apocalypse had finally broken out.
“Not tonight,” I told her.
We tried hiding under the blanket for a while but the heat drove us out again. I had taken a swipe at her shoulder and come away with the taste of her salt thick on my tongue. After that we didn’t say too much.
I reached to put out a cigarette and noticed that our “outside” ashtray was missing.
“What happened to the ashtray?” I asked her.
She shrugged; looked out into the night and said, “How should I know? You know how life is…sometimes things just disappear.”
“Yeah,” I said. “They do.”