Monday, September 15, 2008

Five Photos I didn't take

This is a picture I did not take:
1) At the Russian River. The evening was late and the ferry was loading up for the last trip to the highway side of the river. One young man had his hands full with tackle box, rod, ice chest and such accoutrement as is necessary to catch salmon and so stuffed his catch into the waders he was still wearing, the fish tails slapping his stomach as he walked.

2) A memorial pot-luck at the Circle K one otherwise dull Sunday afternoon. An older gentleman with a voluminous brown and gray beard had leaned his folding chair back against the wall and was eating cashews from a bowl that rested on the mound of his stomach. He chewed with such gusto that his beard jumped and darted so that it looked like a squirrel was humping his face.

3) My Arkansas high school summer nights were spent at the intersection of Highways 9, 330, and 65 working a twelve hour, solo night shift at the Choctaw Texaco station. On slow nights, I'd lay on the hood of my car and listen to the radio. Chicago's WLS would fade in and out of the AM dial, or WSN from Wheeling, West Virginia. WWL broadcast, "... from the ballroom of some hotel in New Orleans and was for me a last resort as I didn't much care for ball room music but was preferable to the damnations and sulfurous threats offered out of tiny radio stations and minds in Oklahoma. At midnight, 50,000 watt, clear channel, K- double A-Y from Little Rock kicked in "Bleaker Theater" and I'd listen to “Fall of the House of Usher” or “War of the Worlds” and watch bats swoop and dive at the dusty moths fluttering and bumping into the brightly lit big red Texaco Star.

4) I bought a used pickup in Minneapolis and was driving it to northern Wisconsin on a terribly cold winter’s night. The sky that night had little depth and seemed more an indigo colored tent whose center pole was a big yellow moon the color of sheep's teeth which evoked a quiet intimacy- much as being six years old and under bed blankets with a flashlight. Somewhere between Range and Ladysmith a small farm house sat darkened except for through a window was visible was a large, flat screen TV displaying some movie. The TV’s image was sharp with good color but the violent silence of jerking from scene to scene was off putting and, when viewed from the open-ness of the northern plains, seemed unremarkable and puny.

5) I get to deliver eviction notices… once, in a drizzle, I approached C-4, the door was open but I stood to one side and knocked on the door frame. A female voice said, "Yeah?" She was sitting at a table, staring at the wall, wearing sad, pink shorts from which extended sallow legs with bad circulation and tapering to feet with hard, pointy orange nails like anemic carrots. Her once white tank top had the tired softness of much wear and many washings. Two thin trails of smoke rose and intertwined caduceus like from a cigarette which had an inch of drooping ash. I held out the envelope saying, "This was left at the office for you." On her upper arm was tattooed a sun extending a dozen rays. She moved her cigarette to the other hand, ash falling on the table, and took the envelope. "Bye," I said. She said nothing….
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