The Strongman and the Daring Young Gal on the Flying Trapeze
He is feeling the weight of stasis (of being incidental) like the power tools in his garage he never uses. He’s reading an article about the Death of Things: Drive-in movies, traveling circuses, God…
His wife is plopping fresh food things into a large stew pot. The pot is steaming; one wall is already wet. She is humming. He can’t make out the tune.
Maybe she is the one who works the trapeze. Maybe he is the strongman. They are driving the long miles to Ohio. He’s smoking the stub of a smelly Italian cigar and she’s got the window open. Her legs are up on the dash. They are fine legs and there are holes in her nylons he finds seductive.
The lions are chatting up a storm in their wheeled cages behind them. Felix, the lion tamer, is riding with Fred, who shovels up the elephant shit. It’s twilight as they pass a local drive-in. Soon there’ll be giants on the screen you can see from the road. Silent in black and white. When so many things were.
In the trunk are his weights and the phone books he will rip in half. His hands make everything look smaller. His wife’s legs make his britches tighter. She’s doing her nails and tells him to watch for bumps in the road. She dabs the little brush into the little bottle. A color called Satan’s blush. A red on red lacquer. He can’t wait till they get to their tent site so he can watch her do her toes. Watch her rub in some perfumy lotion all over herself.
“Hey, you big lug,” she says. “I don’t want to paint my knuckles. Watch them potholes too.”
“Sorry, babe,” he tells her, and slows as much as he can. But the caravan has a tempo all its own and he must keep up. He hopes the lions will settle down. He reaches for a canteen full of cheap whiskey, takes a swig.
“Let me have some of that,” she says, and takes it from him. The sky is nearly black now. But God is up there on a cloud, wearing a halo in some sort of neon, in an amphitheater of sky surrounded by a bunch of winged things that seem happy enough. Where nobody farts, and the music is swell.
“Do me a favor,” his real wife says. “look up a recipe for me, would you?
“Sure,” he says, puts down the magazine and reaches for his iPad with those long slender fingers of his. “Okay,” he says: “shoot.”