Friday, March 9, 2007

Penny Lane: Poor Little Sparrow, Bye Bye

Abe is staring out at the street, at the space where Clark’s Honda has just pulled away. He says, “You could always ask Dad for the money.”

I say, “I don’t want to ask Dad for more money. After this year, I’ve run through so much of his money.”

“Yeah, but that’s how you feel about it. That’s not how Dad feels about it. He’s got bags of money.”

“I was thinking I might come with you to LA and stay.”

Abe starts. His black eyes quicken and warm. He licks his lips. “Are you serious? Then you and me and Rosa could get a place together. That would be great. You should do it. You should just do it. Ask Dad for some money, he’d be thrilled to have you in town. You should do it.”

Glancing at the now untenanted fig tree, I have a twinge of memory, although, in my mind, the sparrow’s turned into a grisly bat. I want to leave town pretty badly. I say, “This Integral thing.”

“Yeah? I don’t think Dad’s going to let you stay there.”

“No, I was telling you, I had this dream.”

I tell him my nuclear war dream, adding a chase scene with “Custodians” I’d forgotten up to now. I tell him I often have apocalypse dreams, because I once had obsessive fears that there was going to be a nuclear war. This was a good dream though, and the Integral seemed like the factor making the nuclear war all right. I expound:

“It was a dream where the one thing you yearn for, the meaningful thing, is presented in an image, and you wake up with that longing?”

Abe is watching my face with the cloudless sincerity of a good dog. He says, “Yeah, you’re so lucky to have one of those dreams. I haven’t had one of those in...”

We instrospect; we both stop and look at the mountains outside. The clean air is present as if it had cleared its voice and spoken.

From Penny Lane’s window, you can see where the Rockies’ Front Range goes in leaps to the far snow mountains. The view is dominated by the FlatIrons, three dramatic crests of red stone. Today the needled shoulders of Chautauqua are crisply in focus in the dry air, the vista has a clarity like the frank scent of pine. It is a scene that promises, free-handed like American…

“Why are we looking at the mountains? That’s so cheesy,” Abe says.

“Longing.” I intone.

“Exactly.” He starts sweeping up his crumbs with a leave-taking air. “Yeah, I don’t know if Dad’s pool house is the one thing you long for. I guess it’s the one thing a lot of people long for, especially in LA. That’s the thing about LA, people’s dreams are so degraded there, it’s like, yuck. A lotta yucky fucking people. It’s – WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?”

There’s shrieking from behind the bar: I follow Abe’s eyes to the juicer, where a coffee bar girl stands with her hands to her mouth. They’re spattered red, and at first I think she’s lost a finger in the machine.

It’s the sparrow: he’s dive-bombed in, going after some wheatgrass or beet which struck him as a foodstuff. Seizing it just as the girl pressed the ON switch, he was tugged into the centrifuge, sending up a spray of blood, beet-juice, and feathers.

The feathers drift down through the air, in no hurry. In the juicer, the sparrow still faintly kicks.

“That’s creepy. That is awful,” says Abe. “I can’t believe we just let that happen. Fucking Isidore... is that our fault?” He looks at me and I look back at him, reviewing the events. He concludes, “It’s kind of our fault. Shit. I hate that.”

We look down at the table. I think about Afghanistan. Then I think of other wounded things and people, following my sad mood.

The table is covered in yellow cheesecloth which is held in place by a slab of glass cut to fit. Under the glass flyers are displayed. One sheet, hand-printed on yellow lined paper, makes me start; it is headed with my name.

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