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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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By Her Lover's Neck
The Prodigal Father
The Road Out Of Town
Beyond her kitchen window grew a sugar maple that had entered its dormant, bare winter stage after a spectacular red and orange Fall. Past that she kept a flower garden where only a couple mums had survived the first bites of cold which killed the annuals and turned the perennials brown as caskets. The birdbath stood at the farthest corner of that, sturdy concrete base that rose a yard off the ground to its ornate, lotus shaped bowl, which had just lately cracked and had dropped a quarter of its mass to the ground below. Solid, strong, dense, daunting; ruined.
She finished rinsing the rest of the breakfast dishes as quietly as possible – the dishwasher would take care of most of it, but she preferred to eliminate the food residue first. Her husband sat at the kitchen table behind her, the folded paper next to him, unread, likely to stay unread, coffee cup in hand, staring out into space. She had given up trying to read his mind.
Could be he was contemplating leaving with her shortly for his first counseling session, as ordered by the court as a condition of his parole on an assault conviction. The judge had actually gone quite easy on him, recognizing that it was his first offense, that he was clearly struggling and in pain over something, and that the transgression itself, while technically counting as a hate crime, was little more than a couple shoves. Even the gay couple he’d gone after were reluctant to see him severely punished. “You know,” one had told her, “He really needs to talk to somebody.” But she already knew that.
“I had no idea they were gay,” he’d told her over and over. “I’ve known them for years. Seen them in church for years. How could they go to our church and be gay? How could they admit it, right there in our church where we go to be with God?” he asked out loud, not really talking to her, not really looking for her opinion.
“So, why,” the minister would ask him in about an hour while she sat passively, “Since you’ve known them all this time, and been friends with them all this time, and worshipped next to them all this time, would the new knowledge that they’re gay cause you to attack them?” It had been partly due to the reality that counseling resources were scare in their little town (their minister was certified in that regard) and partly because the judge assumed it’d have to be somebody with a cross on his lapel to get through to him that church-based counseling had been agreed to by the court.
“I didn’t really attack them, Pastor, that’s an exaggeration.”
“I just grabbed them by their collars and shook them a little, trying to wake them up.”
“You grabbed them by their necks and shoved them into a cabinet with enough force to knock it over and break it. And you did it in church!”
Her husband closed his eyes tight and shook his head. “I don’t understand. I don’t understand why any of this is happening!”
“That’s what we’re going to find out,” the minister told him calmly, gently, but she knew that wasn’t it.
Could be the thing her husband had been contemplating earlier at the kitchen table while she rinsed the breakfast dishes and looked out at the broken bird bath was what was happening to the world he believed in. He didn’t care what was happening to him; didn’t believe anything was happening to him at all. He hadn’t done anything wrong, as far as he was concerned; hadn’t done anything that didn’t have to happen.
“I don’t understand why we keep letting everything change like this,” he’d said. Since returning months earlier from a fruitless trip to find their daughter after she jumped in her car and drove away, he’d been the very definition of morose. He spent his nights in the dark, staring off into space, brooding, impotent. “I don’t understand why she didn’t come to me,” He’d whispered over and over and over again. “I know she saw me,” he moaned about briefly spotting her across a busy Nashville street. Of course, right after that fleeting glance she’d disappeared. “What did I ever do? What did I ever do?”
Then he’d start in on the evil of the world itself. “You get much away from this town it’s all different. It’s all changed. It’s not the country I grew up in. It’s all wrong. It’s all gone wrong. Oh, my poor darling girl, where have you gone?”
The hardest part now, now as her husband and the minister began their dance into what was wrong with what or with who, was that she knew. Their daughter had called several times, but only to talk to her, to her mother who understood how suffocated and miserable she’d felt at home, just to tell her she was okay. She knew from the 212 area code on the caller ID exactly where her daughter was, why she’d left, why she had run when she saw her father across the street and why she wouldn’t come back. Knew exactly what the problem was. But neither of them were asking her. What could she know? She looked at her husband and knew she could never tell him. Rigid, unyielding, unchanging, inflexible, obstinate. Ruined.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.