Monday, September 27, 2021

What begins as boredom, ends in strangeness

27 September 2021

The suburbs are as precisely strange as they try not to be. Late in her conscious life, my mother sat in her dining room to watch the traffic go by. There was precious little. Everyone’s grass mowed, everyone’s driveway a clean asphalt, everyone so clean. On the second try, one neighbor died in his closed garage. On the first, a father turned a gun on himself in the rec room. More mysterious was the dead Filipina maid, found in the back woods with a stocking tied around her neck. The kind pedophile across the street hid himself well. My friend suggests I look for joy, instead. A little boy walks toward me holding out a tiny yellow bulldozer. I say “bulldozer,” and he tries, stuttering on the last two syllables. Lilith guards her mouth where her broken tooth was pulled. Our son makes us ramen when we get home. We watch baseball and soccer, marvel at the path of the ball. When I told the man with a pamphlet in his hand thank you, I have my own spiritual path, he asked if I was Buddhist. He hesitated, then walked away. They walk the shoulders, the men and woman with dim backpacks. We read their cardboard signs when they stop. Some get off the bus and return to a tent city under the freeway. Neat tows of tents, the occasional shopping cart, American flag. When we left the stadium, we passed a man beside a parked car, preaching through a megaphone. We had sinned and his volume proved it. The bus came, and we headed out. No light in these territories, just another conspiracy theory shared with strangers. The man a row ahead of us said he had a religious exemption, but at least he wore a mask. Some of us only get saline, others the chip.

No comments: