In the days that follow, I am caught between the lingering somatic residue of the experience and the particulars of the new image. I call Mom and without preamble ask about my lost siblings. She speaks without hesitation, perhaps relieved to finally speak of them.
The morning of the actual protest, I passed out snacks and water, but spent 90% of my day patrolling the crowd, looking for bad actors. One kid came into the store early to drop off a donation. He wasn’t with anybody. And his entire face was covered. Like, fully wrapped. Protestors were wearing face coverings, but this felt odd to me. We had everyone who donated sign a registry, so we could send thank you notes. But when I asked, “Do you want to sign the registry?” He said, “Nope.” And just walked away. Way away.
I owned an Omni once, a car so unreliable I carried quarts of oil like passengers. Worse, I was afraid to leave it parked outside on a rainy day for fear it wouldn’t start. Which means the morning was clear when I allowed that car to rest beside a field where dozens of dairy cows grazed among a scattering of discarded Omnis, confirming a friend’s late-night, beer-soaked story.
During the Pandemic, I’ve been locked down only a little more firmly than I had been living my sequestered, solitary life before.
The road is called Blaire, and it runs through Blacklick, PA. Little Rachel divides the houses on Blaire Road into two categories: real houses, and fake houses. She lives in one of the fake houses—the kind you can put on a giant truck and haul down the highway.
Dumbstruck, I felt like I’d just been hit in the gut by a bowling ball. Could it be the very same Samuel Menashe from Chautauqua? The old man with the suspenders and hair like lemon meringue?
Please forgive me. I need to be righteous, as righteous as possible.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning, after battling the rough night demons,
the detritus of their dark messages like sharp crumbs in my bed.