My City by the Bay (Chapter 4, Part 4 of 4)

The Dip

Love loves complication. Love loves drama. Love loves attention. One day you want to nestle your head on her chest, the next you’re looking for an apartment far away from her. For as painful as it is, this condition has to be for the best. Continuity and consistency are rules for robots, and no one’s a machine… yet. That’s to the wealthy’s chagrin anyway; they would be the only ones to benefit from it.

At the heart of humanity, being human, is change. Without it a person becomes obsolete like a Commodore 64 or 8-track tape player. Sure, they’re fun for the sense of nostalgia. People would like something more modern for the day-to-day activities though.

Sig’s ride jostled with each imperfection in the road. He looked up at the ceiling ads and sighed, “what am I doing?” This was some sort of defeat, but there wasn’t any definition to it. He hadn’t actively done anything to destroy the relationship, but wasn’t the greatest proponent of it either. Who was to blame? No one, he supposed. Chrissy and he were just two incompatible people hoping to cross over. He was out helping family, while she was in need of most of it.

With a little anxiety, he rolled together stems of the bouquet purchased in Old Town. Cellophane became a cathedral radio, crackling as he adjusted to his favorite station: nervous. The last time they spoke was at 100 decibels. Love loves scorched Earth, too.

Life in the Dip felt like living in a hole. In truth, it was a depression in the land but also acted as an oubliette. Deriving itself from oublier, French for “to forget,” many lost recollection of the area and its residents. Unlike Old Town and North Harbor, people in the Dip kept to themselves and didn’t make a fuss. Heavy notes of defeat and resignation drifted through the neighborhood as sweeping winds carried litter down its streets.

Christine’s house stood as a fortress from all that was outside of her personal sphere of influence. Not even the smog of Uptown could penetrate the small, ecru bungalow of Stapleton Row. Mostly-plumb pickets poked the atmosphere with an air of defiance and smacked of rough carpentry. Sig was not the best craftsman in the world, but it worked for what they could afford.  It was better suited for filtering plastic bags anyway. Cheap pine is serviceable baleen.

Bottles from Sig’s “Alcolympics” disappeared since his departure. His favorite past time was the “beer put,” which involved launching an empty beer bottle like three-pound shot from the porch. The unbroken bottle furthest from the front door won. And what did they win? Another beer, of course, however the crisp shatter of glass was a satisfying runner up.

Sig pushed back the front gate, and it drooped to the right as if to say “oh God, not you again.”  This was the first time he was back in months, only enough time to settle into his new digs, yet crossing the threshold felt like a violation itself. In a strict sense, it was trespassing, but this was beyond any technical interpretation.

The porch was different only in the sense it had been cleared of various debris from unfinished projects. She let a whole flat of petunias wilt one year, but something prompted its removal. Change is good, but change is scary. The eyes of an emotionally worn man turned up to peer at the knocker which was polished, yet not entirely wiped clean. An oak tree in the front lawn waved its shadow on the beast as if to warn of bad ideas.

“What is going on here?” Fingers touched the hastily buffed brass ring attached to a lion’s mouth, which gave way to space a few seconds later. In its place stood a stern looking man in a white tank top and a cell phone.

“Can I help you?” the wall of a man was at least getting down to business in a semi-cordial manner. Tonality indicated, however, Sig’s reputation preceded him. There wasn’t much room for a favorable opinion.

“I… uh… I’m here to see Christine Taureano. Is she in by any chance?”

“She went shopping. Sor…” The obviously lie was quickly foiled when a sprightly, small figure came up from behind the slab of meat and gave him a kiss.

“Who is it, swee… oh, hey Sig.”  Disappointment became palpable at that moment, and the energy drained from her form. This was obviously not the day she wanted to break the news to him. She might have been banking on never seeing him again. It was probably the lack of control over the situation which carried the most dissatisfaction.

“Yeah, hey. I was hoping you still had my box of clothes. It could come in handy down the road.” Yeah, for when he wanted to burn an effigy of Sergeant Beefhead standing next to him.

“Oh! Yeah, no problem.” The softball was smacked with so much fervor, one would think nothing happened at all. There were a few seconds of awkward silence that followed between the new beau and Sig. That was nothing compared to the awkward silence following him home that night. Chrissy returned with a faded egg box signifying the end of the round. Sig got a consolation prize.

“There! That should be the last of it.” Smiling during a meeting of this nature could be considered an insult, but the one riding up her face was probably meant to be such. The two lovebirds probably met within the last month or so. Her benevolence was a good way to avoid spoiling the honeymoon. “So, what’s with the flowers?”

“Oh, these. I happened to meet a florist today and she wanted to know if you would like them.” No one would have ever bought that. What good would it have done regardless?

“No, thanks.”

That hurt more than it should. They both claimed the fire was gone more often than he could remember, but this was it. Sig pursed his lips at the bitter end of book he didn’t want to finish. She actually found someone new.

“OK, then. I’ll see you around.” Lingering any further would result in someone either getting physically or emotionally battered. A quick exit was the way to salvation.

“I sure hope not,” followed quietly thereafter.

For all the enticing aromas, the flowers refused to look at him at the bus stop. They only stared at the street wanting someone else to plant them in a vase. Sig knew that was only his perception, but it seemed real enough at the moment. An attitude like that only gets the trash can. An attitude like his only gets the curb. It was the price of being himself.

The egg carton showed wear from being thrown about the house. Rough in feel, only the dried adhesive provided competition. Failed duct tape clung to one end of the box as if to document some sort of effort in the storage process, but maintenance had a lot to be desired. Sig tucked the flaps back and peeked into the faded darkness.

Various garments felt fresh air for the first time in ages. Underwear, bowling shirts, and the cut-off jeans he used for mowing were among various articles tossed about like a wild sea of dyed cotton. Bailing out the container, he noticed something sunk at the bottom of the box. Diving deeper, it became apparent Davy Jones found a picture of them when they first started seeing each other.

Sig looked up at the sky and added a few more drops in the ocean.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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