Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 10

Crow thought back to the last time he'd seen his son. It was in the wake of Deborah's funeral, and Crow had been absent the entire 9-month ordeal of her suffering through ovarian cancer. He'd been on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, but Jamie had gotten ahold of him in the early stages, asked if he would be around. Crow said he would, and didn't. He and Deborah had been divorced since Jamie was in second grade. The farmhouse they once shared together, the brief few years when the three were a respectable family, before career and an almost intrinsic sense of isolation that always kept Deborah and Jamie at an arms distance, even in the best of times, made more idyllic over the course of time and longing.


Jamie would barely talk to his father. The burden of caring for his mother when he was on the cusp of his own independence, the seed of his father's own stubbornness, had put a rift between Crow and Jamie. This was before Crow was Crow, when he was Burton Crowell, before he'd given up the trappings of hearth and home for good.


Crow tried to remember the last time he'd seen his son, for it was also the last time he'd seen his former in-laws. But the funeral was a blur of faces, of feeling hurt and lost and in denial. It was 20 years gone. Crow wished he could go back. One of his greatest regrets is not being there for Deborah in her last days. And if he ever got the chance to meet Jamie again, he'd tell him as much.


But part of Crow was ashamed, too, as if Jamie wouldn't understand the course Crow's life had taken. A reunion would lead to more judgment, to a sense of shame Crow knew he needn't feel. Crow laughed when he thought of this. The tables were turned. The son would be holding the father accountable. Jamie always had. Ever since the divorce.


"Bah!" Crow said aloud, to no one. The damn fox woman, he thought, a reminder of the impermanency of flesh, of persona. He shook his head, shook it to confirm his own place in the here and now. The dream always put him into the slipstream of memory, which to the pragmatic Crow was always a disconcerting experience.


Crow walked up the uneven concrete basement steps of the Augusta Inn into the gray light of a misty, timeless day. The mood of the atmosphere made him want to just go back downstairs, retrieve his bedding, and go back to sleep. But a gnawing hunger and the only schedule he keeped, his dumpster rounds, beckoned.


Whimsy dictated much of what Crow did, even though he stuck to a fairly predictable set of locales -- the thrift shop, church soup kitchen, library, ISNU student center for television, the fourth floor of the music building when he felt like indulging in a little piano playing, the forest preserve, and People's Park. But his dumpster diving followed a strict, if varying schedule around the garbage collection. Crow's goal was to visit each dumpster at maximum capacity, and over time he'd figured out not only which dumpsters yielded the most cans and other treasures, but when they were emptied. Often, if he was running late, the garbage truck would appear while he was at a dumpster. Most of the waste management staff knew him. They were in the same business, and, surprisingly, respected Crow. He and they had something in common -- an innate curiousity for the detritus of others.


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