Bern pedaled at a constant cadence of 75 rpm in the lower level of the main Smith Compound residence. A video screen in front of him showed the scene from a camera making its way along a trail somewhere in a rain forest in Costa Rica. His background music faded to nothing, then into Jim Morrison singing about the end of something.
What’s ending? What came before? Was I this high the last time I heard the song or is that my imagination? I don’t think it was what Frank and I listened to in his basement somewhere back in our long ago but who can remember something like that after a few hits of black Afghan? The hot dogs F boiled up didn’t last long. I’ll never forget that part. Exactly which song was playing doesn’t matter, but I always wonder what happened to F after that and if he had indeed killed himself and why no one ever told me. I hope I wasn’t responsible because I wasn’t a better friend. It’s not that I’m high now, because I’m not, but the sync between the video and The End is just too fitting down here. I’m trippin’ and seeing so many things in a different way as the trail bends left and right and climbs above the greenery and across one footbridge and on to another and then I’m in another basement looking for the Christmas presents Rosemary and Dr. Bobby had hidden in the crawl space, on the far side from the stairs so we had to go around the furnace where the Devil lived if we wanted to peek. There was no demon in the next few basements. Just memories of hiding and imagining and talking on the phone beneath my sisters’ bedroom, and sweeping and mopping and checking to see how much oil was left and if termites had left more tracks, and long-forgotten photo albums, and a bobby whistle and a roller skate key that I still carry around sometimes in case of an emergency and to help me remember even though some things can never be forgotten.
One of my favorite places is a pleasant bike ride* from home. It’s a place called Inkberry Books, a little shop in Niwot, Colorado, that supports local authors and other independent writers and artists.
You can’t go there right now, but you and other readers can support this indie book seller by ordering online. Some authors even read excerpts for you to help you choose!
The proprietors were kind enough to invite me to do that, so I decided to give it a try.
It used to be – back in the day, maybe last month – that Mrs. Smith always got home from work before I did. Now that I work in the basement of our Longmont dwelling rather than a basement office in Boulder, Red Dog and I wait for her return instead.
Red often waits just inside our front door, right by the little stool where Susan puts her bathrobe and a towel each morning on her way out. So far I haven’t curled up by the door with him.
When my wife gets home, she says a quick hello and sheds the clothes that will go straight to the washing machine. Then she steps into the shower in the bathroom just a few feet away from the front door. She is following the advice of her employer. The idea is to reduce the chances of sharing a virus that she may or may not have been exposed to while helping mostly elderly people rehab from hip replacement surgeries, strokes, and various other conditions.
So far she has not had to venture into the isolation area of the care center, where people who have been released from a hospital spend a week or so proving they are asymptomatic. I hope she can avoid that area, but if she is needed she will go there.
She is remarkably cheerful most of the time and brushes the fatigue away like a pesky gnat that comes around now and then. Somehow she has the energy to work out or do yoga upstairs, take Red Dog for long walks, and bicycle with me.
The words “win” and “winning” are losing their meaning through overuse and misuse.
So is the notion of war. The idea that nations are fighting a war against a virus and can actually win is preposterous.
A well-prepared nation can limit the death and social and economic havoc that result from a pandemic. That is not winning. A nation certainly does not win anything by being so unprepared that thousands of people die before civic leaders accept their responsibilities and act. That is called failure.
The issue is survival, not winning or losing.
This nation and other nations can survive or not. Individuals will survive or not.
We can do either with honor and dignity. Our choice.