Bambi Breaks for Freedom
Come As You Were
Back When They Were Children
The Hounds, Again
The Beginning of the End
Chapter One: The Intervention
It was one of those utterances that sparkled -- the very daring! Could you see us? Canoe shrugged, to be expected. After all, Canoe was our local recovering; it was she who left those pamphlets in the clubhouse next to the men's Nineteenth Hole.
Still, the very daring!
Canoe cracked her knuckles, lit a cigarette. We sat by her swimming pool absentmindedly pulling weeds from around the flagstones. The ice of our iced tea had already melted into water and it was too cold to swim, besides.
"It's obvious," Canoe said, blowing. "He's going to kill himself in less than a month. I don't want that blood on my hands."
He was someone we loved. Someone we could not help but love. A colleague of our ex-husbands, a past encounter. We had known Him since before we were we, from our first weeks in this town, early summers. We loved His hair. Golden. The color of that movie actor's hair, the famous one. Sometimes we caught just the gleam of it through the windshield of his BMW as He drove by. Sporty. Waving. Green metallic, leather interior. Some sort of monogram on the wheel. You've seen the license plate? SOLD. A realtor, but never desperate. Yes, He sold our Mimi Klondike's Tudor on Twelve Oaks Lane with full knowledge of her rotting foundation. But desperate? No. Just thirsty.
"Intervention," Barbara repeated. Canoe flexed her toes as if she had invented the word.
This a late summer day, a fallish day. Ricardo, the pool boy, swept maple leaves from the pool water, in this light a dull, sickly yellow. We watched him; we couldn't take our eyes off. Canoe interrupted.
"Actually, I shouldn't be the one explaining. There's someone from the group who's our expert. Pips Phelp, actually."
Pips Phelp? The lawyer? Pips Phelp?
We spoke in whispers. Who knew who lived in trees?
Besides, He might drive up any minute. He often did. You'd hear the crunch of His tires on the gravel, see the flash of blond hair behind the windshield. These times you'd dry your hands on your shirtfront, check your face in the toaster. You wouldn't want to be caught, what? Alone? You let Him in. He'd ask you to. He would stand at your door, behind your screen, wondering if He could. Of course, you'd say, though you looked a mess. If you were unlucky, the dishwasher ran. One of the louder cycles. If you were lucky, all was still -- the house in magical order, spotless, clean. He surveyed; this was his job. You never knew, He told you, when He might be needed.
You shivered. Him a handsome man. A man with the habit of standing close, His smell: animal, rooty -- your hands after gardening. His straight teeth were white, though He didn't smile that way. His was a better smile, toothless, brief, as if He understood He had caught you with more than a wet shirtfront. You obliged the suspicion. You were always guilty of something.
Still, you showed Him what you had done, were attempting. Recent renovations. Whatnot. A fabric swatch laid on the back of your couch. A roll of discount wallpaper for the powder room, shells of some sort. You'd been trying, you'd explain, to fix the place up. But things had gotten behind; the contractor's attentions divided, et cetera, et cetera.
He nodded, or did not. His was a serious business: assessing value. Worth.
Copyright © 2004 by Kate Walbert
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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