“To each his own,” I said.
“Shots!” Sam exclaimed, “Shots!”
“Jon, can you tend to your duty please?”
There wasn’t as much laughter as I would’ve liked. I can’t get enough of making people laugh. I am addicted to the sensation of being humorous, and in my awkward desperation, I often ramble on to massacre jokes, painting silence, an awkward silence, worthy of me and my attire. But then again, some people will always laugh at my stupidity. Stupidity isn’t always funny; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…Either way, I never get as much laughter as I want. I don’t think anyone does.
Every now and then, Kate would look up from her book. “The sun is out again,” she whispered to me.
I looked around, nodding my head gently and said, “I’m not gonna be fooled.”
“Fooled…? By the sun…?”
“You’re a weirdo.”
“I just mean, I’m not gonna rip my shirt off and start dancing. It’ll be overcast again soon.”
Jon came back out on the porch with a tray and four shots of rye. “Well done,” said Sam. Kate closed her book. The sun was back in full effect, and despite my urge for thunder and my speckled negativity, the clouds did not return. However, I did end up taking off my shirt eventually.
“You’re way too white!”
“Yeah, you could definitely use some color,” said Kate.
Forty Creek flowed with calm. Jon said, “My ass is incredibly sore.”
“That was one hell of a hike,” said Sam.
“Are you guys down to go to the beach tonight?”
“Most definitely,” said Kate.
Soon enough, they all started slapping the air and smacking away the mosquitos. “They never bother me,” I muttered, cocky and proud that my blood just wasn’t sweet enough.
“I’ve gotten so many bites on my ass,” said Jon.
“You have one problematic ass bro!” This time I drew more laughter, but still not enough.
“They like your meaty ass!” said Sam.
They all had sweeter blood than me. I just might be one bitter ass middle eastern, and I don’t look middle eastern, which might make me much more bitter, in my blood, in my ass…None of this makes sense, but it’s funny, so laugh!
“Smart-serve us some shots Jonny boy!”
Forty Creek flowed with calm. The clouds never returned, and apparently, hunger and thirst had never left.
“You look exhausted,” I said to Kate.
“Gonna sleep well tonight…”
“Making tacos for dinner,” said Jon.
Entertained by all of our unique excitements, I started to notice our differences in unison. I noticed what the air had done to us. I started to see how our capabilities had come together. I couldn’t stop admiring the four of us, our differences in unison. The three of them were the only world I needed, and we shared everything; everything in our pockets and in the air, everything but the stingers of mosquitos.
“I miss the cats,” I muttered.
“You missed them as soon as we left home!” Kate exclaimed. “An hour into the drive up here, he turns to me and says, ‘I really miss the cats.’ An hour into the drive!”
Jon said, “It’s amazing that you’ve become such a cat person.”
“You do spend a lot of time with them,” said Sam.
I had nothing to say, but my smile was as real as it could get. I did not go on to mention that at times, even out there, in the cottage, in the woods, I could hear our cats meowing. Specially the kitten; he was always meowing. I mentioned nothing about carrying their meows around. That’s just crazy.
The sun on my skin, breathing in and breathing out, revealed my weariness and brought forth that old familiar vertigo, but it still didn’t stop me from rolling a joint.
Day-bombed to the edge of being; I thought, “If only St. Patrick could see me now!” I thought so many stupid thoughts. I pictured our cats back home, having a vacation of their own. I pictured them, confused and deprived, meowing around Amanda, who we had entrusted to feed them every day. I thought of a Hemingway short story, “Old Man over the Bridge.” I remembered that the old man had to abandon his animals during the war. He had some birds, a few cats, and four goats. I remembered how he had told the young soldier Hemingway that the birds would fly away, because he had left their cages open…but what were the goats to do? The cats would survive, I remembered him saying; cats are resilient and can fend for themselves, but his heart was filled with worry for his goats. What were they to do? Soon enough, they would surely die. But the cats, he was certain, would be fine.
Halfway through the joint, the three of them dispersed and went inside, leaving me on the porch, smoking by myself. I don’t remember what time it was. I could hear one of them doing the dishes. Sam had put on some jazz. I opened my notebook and started writing this. The floodgates propped open; I was the ocean of purpose, whatever the fuck that is…I had so much to say. I don’t remember how long I sat there writing, but at one point, Sam came back out on the porch and placed a smooth white rock on the table, in front of me. The joint had gone out in my hand and I knew all too well that all was lost.
“Found that on the beach,” he said.
All was lost on the page. I put down the pen, lowering my sunglasses as I picked up the rock. It was just a rock, and my smile was as real as it could get.