When the forest comes back to reclaim all this, the 24-hour tax loan, the strip club shaped like a
monolith, I want to be on the right side. Not of history, something more elemental, less predicated
on firepower and who controls the schools on a given day. I don’t want to wake up to find I was
kind with no sense of duty, had brains with no bearings. The afternoon comes on crude and
blustery, lacking pathos and shadow. I can’t comprehend why the bird nesting under the interstate
sounds like a heart, but I know the man with one crutch mowing his little patch of lawn, the other
crutch leaning against the twenty-mile-per-hour sign, is not a fucking symbol. He stares at me like a
new cellphone, when I’m just at the crux of day-drinking, where you either keep going or lay down
to regroup. Man with one crutch, the panthers and lightning of your metal shirt are not dark portals
for me to get lost in. We need to deal with you. We can’t deal with you. We should talk about
something else. I want to walk humbly, limit myself to three tiny cigarettes after meals. If I had a
long-enough hat, you’d call it the cantilevered part of my soul, if you looked from
a distance, from the city where nobody lives.
I’m standing on the same corner where I stood as an altar boy. They still haven’t figured out what
to do with downtown. I’d propose a jaw mechanism where the statutes spit invectives at passers-by,
like the numinous part of a childhood movie of menace and treasure. Though a second dancing
fountain is more likely. Some people live in the past without seeing it as a staging area to undermine
the present, but not me. I look forward to getting paid and buying a pack of those cigars with the
wooden tips. We should let our animus expand till it fills the contours of the three-day weekend.
There’s time to browse the arrest register, time to debate vigorously wolf pack versus cat’s eyes for
the rear window of the truck with the wizened punks and professional drinkers wandering the
shores of the lake, trying to develop some honorable secret sufficient to make the bird on your
shoulder bow down to eat. There’s a man in a brown bathrobe emptying what appears to be a box
of bread on the sidewalk. Those little hamburgers you cook in their own plastic are back at the gas
station. I can connect “everyone I know” to a character from The Faerie Queene. That doesn’t
make me special, but passes the time, which is otherwise a cluster of shadows. The indefatigable
Ms. Hoot and her brood might swing by later, which could mean real dinner or, at the very least
movies from the library. Then again, the high school is mounting Glengarry Glen Ross. I like a lot of
cursing without power or competency, just as she likes the sight of men in suits who barely
understand what they’re saying.
Justin Lacour lives in New Orleans. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from Bayou Magazine, Natural Bridge, New Orleans Review (Web Features), and other journals.