Thursday, March 27, 2008

existence is adverbial

He remembered the rabbit. It was in the past, though. And there was nothing that could be done. He was out of toothpaste. That would have to be remedied. He heard a jackhammer in the distance. Probably along 4th. Maybe two blocks down. He wondered if that would affect traffic. Then he wondered how that could affect him. Then he thought about toothpaste again. He was still out.

In his youth he had dreamed of the ocean. The coastline with the rocks and the waves hitting the cliffs and the repetition. He had thought that one day he would find himself there. That he would sit in the sand and that he would wait. Staring at the ocean. Thinking. Remembering. He remembered the rabbit.

It was going to snow today. His computer had told him so. His umbrella was broken but you don’t use an umbrella for snow. Not really. He wondered if he should buy a raincoat. For later. After the snow. When it would rain. In the spring. He hadn’t needed one back home. But here was different.

He forgot to look at the clock but remembered to close the gate in the fence. And he remembered the rabbit.

***

He remembered the rabbit. He remembered growing up in the green lawns and fenced off backyards of the suburbs of Montana. The rabbit was his neighbor’s. He made friends with the kid when he first moved there. And the kid across the street. Not with the lady on the other side with the dog who bit him when he jumped the fence to get his ball back, though. He never really knew who she was. It was an odd thing to remember, that rabbit. Especially since he didn’t stay friends with any of the kids on his street. And then he moved again and it didn’t matter. He got out of bed.

In the shower he wondered what brought the memory back. Why a rabbit? Why that rabbit? Why not the rabbit his friend had in college that he used to pick up chick (better than a puppy, even)? The dream was fading with the steam, fogging up his mind, the mirror. It was the trace of something lost in the recesses of his subconscious brought to light by random occurrence; maybe last night someone had said about a cute little bunny. He didn’t remember. That wasn’t the sort of thing that stuck with him. Words he liked, the ways they stuck together or drifted apart. But only his words and the words he could pin down on paper or the computer screen. He could never really get a handle on other people’s words. They just drifted past, like a leaf on a river headed for the ocean only to be ravaged, thrashed on the cliffs of the rocky coastline. So close to freedom, so close to oblivion, so close.

He was out of toothpaste. He would have to remember to buy some. And maybe some incense. Sandalwood to remind him of all those Buddhist temples that he visited in Japan. That weird sense of the holy that was both familiar and foreign. He checked the clock. 11:11. He made a wish. If he didn’t leave now he was going to be late. Especially if he had to wait for the train. He picked out a jacket. Hoped it would be warm enough. He hadn’t checked the weather this morning. Not that he expected much. It was cloudy but that could mean anything.

He came up from the subway and could tell by the puddles on the stairs that he should have looked at the forecast. It was raining and his umbrella was still at home in the entryway with his shoes. He considered buying a new one. Five dollars was not a terrible price to pay to keep from being soaked. He didn’t even have a hat on. He wondered whatever happened to his raincoat. The one that he had in college. It was probably with the things he lost in the fraternity attic. The comforter and the laundry bag and the pillow. He still didn’t know how they could have been lost in a closed space so small. There was nowhere for them to hide. And there would have been no reason to steal them.

The air smelled cold. Maybe the downpour would stop and it would snow. He didn’t hold out much hope. It would probably just hail. No five dollar umbrella could save him from a rock fight with heaven. He was tired of waiting. He was tired of his indecision. He stepped out from under the awning, gently into the maelstrom. The rain was bitter, harsh. Like an angry mother, scrubbing away his sins. Leaving the skin red and raw.

He passed an abandoned jackhammer keeping sorry company with a couple bent orange cones and a torn up corner of the street. A shiver went down his spine and he felt even more alone.

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