the nicest day this fall

2 August 2010 § 1 Comment

Some time ago, while taking apart my car’s center console, I found a business card that I had never seen. It had dropped into the recesses of the cabin, underneath the stereo, which I was playing with presently. The CD player had stopped working. It seemed like an invasion into my world, like someone had planted a window into another that I had no interest in exploring. I had found the green-fonted card right as I was reconstructing the dashboard, and so distracted was I by the discovery that I neglected to replace the antenna jack.

It was past two in the morning, and I left it alone.

Years passed without music in the car. Except for a cross country road trip when a very friendly street preaching couple gave me a little boombox to play CDs from the passenger seat, I got used to listening to the hum of the engine, the sound of the tires on the pavement, the wind patterns I learned to design with the windows on the highway. Much as I enjoyed music, driving was a break from it, an experience in itself, a breakaway from love and work in place of something more pure.

My oldest friend and I sat in his driveway, on one of the only sunny days of the summer, the same dashboard torn apart. We sat in occasional silence. After it was put together, antenna cable back in its rightful place, I hit the power button. A most beloved song from the distant past calmly sifted out of the unused speakers. In the afternoon sun, the dark and mellow melody didn’t fit the mood.

A few weeks ago, his girlfriend sat in a familiar living room, rocking back and forth, crying over the dead body of a young man. She was covered in his blood. He was shot in the head. Something about a drug deal gone bad. His name was Brendan McGee.

My friend and I took the car for a test drive around the town of our earlier years. To the beach where we built bonfires and drank stolen beer. To the woods where we filmed Blair Witch Project spoofs. To the rusted Lincoln on the quad trail where we’d smoke pot at night. To the cemetery, where our best friend, former ringleader, dreamer of dreams and tragedy, was buried after feeling it necessary to film a little suicide movie, dressing up in his most elegant garb, and blowing his brains out in his bathtub (well, into the ceiling above the tub, anyway).

No one had been to the grave in months, obviously. We cleared off the leaves, the rotten roses, the dead grass. Pulled the weeds. Cleaned off the old toys that had been left there – tokens of love, of remembrance. My little brother’s school ID from years before still sat there, broken and faded from winters under snow and ice. There was a note there also, written on folded paper. It had lasted through rains, yes, but not a winter. Eager to snoop into the messages people left for our dead brother, we carefully unfolded the moisturestuck page and after a few readthroughs, we made out what it said.

Wish I had gotten to know you better. Good pool though. Brendan McGee

and on the other side it said

P.S. Is it really just a big nothing?

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§ One Response to the nicest day this fall

  • ktb says:

    Once again wondering where the truth starts and the fiction ends. I hope the bit about the antenna is true though.

    I hope it’s not all a big nothing.

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