It’s payday! I exult to myself, momentarily, until I begin to pay my bills, and then – and then, you know. You know, unless you’re incredibly wealthy or maintained by someone else or are still a child. The terrible sinking feeling of watching it go away, the counting backwards and down until the money is gone or mostly gone, fingers folding into empty fists.
If you do manage to keep one of those fingers straight, to carry a little heap of earnings from one month to the other, the muffler will fall right off your car, or a branch will fall on it, or through your roof, or the door handle will come off in your hand, and that will be the end of the little heap.
“You thought he was a good man,” I told the director, cutting off her description of him. She shrugged defeatedly. “I did. I even . . . cooked for him.” She said it haltingly – either the memory came slowly or it pained her to remember. “I told you he was a heartless bastard,” I said gently, because however hard it is to be Cassandra, it is so much harder to tell a person you care for “I said so.”
At least it is hard for me. I’m not saying I’m terribly noble, and I’m not saying that I can’t be roused to anger – my blood is red, my pulse strong. But I don’t like the unsavoury victories, the ones that involve bad character showing itself and lies coming undone and grown men sobbing in front of their sons. I’d rather not be there for all of that, rather be on the road again, driving through the heat and mosquitoes sticking to my arm.
I’m alone in bed watching a black and white video of the Bee Gee’s, back when they were all bad teeth and hopeful hair. ‘Massachusetts.’ I don’t know if it’s comforting or just de-scabbing the wounds.
Everyone knows what an out of control life feels like. I don’t need to add my description to the pile. If I could live like a bird in a country field – without money – I could, really. But there is a long list of the bills that need paying, the proverbial mouths to feed – I know, it just isn’t interesting. Or sexy.
Tonight I drove as far as I could, to find the most remote field possible. There was a flock of little black birds swooping down at once and then scattering. I stopped my car by the side of the road and leaned my head on the steering wheel. If my life were a movie, I thought, it would end now.It would be one of those depressing movies that you leave the theater after watching feeling slightly wrong, like you’re equilibrium’s off, like –
Like a mediation on the futility of life, which you already knew, which you didn’t have to go to a theater to see some girl with windswept blonde hair walk down railroad tracks until she’s off camera, and your heart leaps, hoping the screen doesn’t go black, hoping that there’s a second act, but of course there isn’t. The lights come up and you’re holding an empty popcorn bag and chewing on a soda straw, with a look of mild shock.
I can see him – the one the moms refer to as ‘Hot Dad’ – from this window. I can watch him from a bare window sure that he will never look up and actually notice me – he, meanwhile, moves secure in the knowledge that he is alone.
He moves differently when he believes no one is watching. His movements are sure. Apparently his clothing is dirty, he constantly sniffs it, scowls, rummages through the car like an energetic bag lady and pulls something else out. I don’t know what good this does anyone since the clothing all lives in a giant ball, but it placates him.
I wouldn’t mind at all if he did notice. I’d wave.