Archive for March, 2016
The south facing wall of an old farmhouse along the Ligurian coast was two bricks thick and hundreds high. The farm was left behind, and the walls crumbled.
A broken brick from the wall was tossed into the sea by a boy whose curiosity was only to see if he could hit a floating seagull. He could not.
The brick sank to the shallows of the shore and joined the rolling and swaying movement. For twenty years it tumbled and its edges were ground smooth.
Of all the millions of glossy polished stones underneath his feet on the beach, a man stuck the most ordinary in his pocket, and there it has remained.
It’s a reminder.
His terra-cotta stone was once something else.
Whenever he overthinks something or puts too much emphasis on his own existence, he reaches into his pocket and rubs the red stone between his thumb and fingers. He reminds himself that none of what matters to him now will matter one day.
My neighbor slides his finger across his throat as if to imitate the straight-blade razor in the barber shop scene of a mafia movie, and he follows this motion with the imitating sound of death.
“Keep your eyes on your cat,” he said pointing to the cat chasing flies in the shadows of the bushes in our yard. “They are putting poisoned food in the area to kill cats.”
“Ahh,” I reply and act not to be so surprised by his gesture or his warning. “But why?”
“There are too many cats.”
For seven years his rifle has sat in the corner of the closet. A grey suit he last wore to a funeral hangs over the barrel so only the trigger and butt of the gun are visible. The inside of the barrel is dusty with a red coating of rust.
It was the feeder at the edge of the clearing. He fills it with apples he buys by the bagful from the grain store.
In the early morning hours, when he can no longer sleep and the timer on the coffee machine goes off filling the house with the smell of its brew, he sits by the sliding glass doors in his blue bathrobe and flannel pajamas with a set of binoculars to his eyes.
Cautiously the doe leads her fawns to the edge of the birch trees. The mother’s ear twitches in the direction of a branch breaking in the old pines and falling to the forest floor. It is an alarming but familiar sound. She moves closer to the feeder and the apples she knows by now to be inside.
He watches through the shaky distance of his lenses. He is drawn to her grace and her devotion to her fawns, who are now close to her legs and biting at pieces of fallen apples.
He will not admit it, but ever since he began feeding the deer and watching them through the glass door, he has not been able to pick up his rifle.