The Lodge packed us a wonderful lunch of fried chicken, biscuits, and pie in an old-fashioned wicker basket complete with plates and silverware. We’d driven the station wagon to a secluded spot and hiked to a spreading oak at the base of a rocky bluff. I spread the red-and-white checkered cloth on the ground, leery of ants. A breeze wafted across the valley, so I anchored the cloth with a stone on one side and the basket on the other.
“Come here!” called Jeremy. “I want to take your picture.”
I went and stood in the mouth of a cave, turned to face Jeremy and the camera. Beneath the tree below, I saw a tall bear in a porkpie hat, collar and long tie. He sauntered over, picked up our basket and trotted away, a smaller bear following after.
Jeremy saw my face, “What?” he asked.
What Pegman Saw
the window is the window
the glass, the same
the wall, the same
the same old house
looks out on the sea,
never the same,
not for a moment
neither the air nor the water.
when I close my eyes
to look out the window
the sea takes everything:
my lungs, my hair, my hands on the table
the sea is not the same and it floats me
through the same window
the cries of sea-birds far below
in the fog
The Daily Post: Favorite Place
Janus liked quoting Captain Kirk at the start of a climb.
Gentlemen, risk is our business. It was funny the first time or two, but like most of the aspects of his personality, it ended up grating on you.
After a couple years, I was the only one left who would still belay him. I suppose I felt pity for the guy.
He tried hard to be Mr. Cool, spending a fortune on equipment and letting anyone borrow it as long as they wanted. People took advantage, of course. Climbers are selfish beings.
I hope they’re ashamed of themselves now.
I missed FF last week for the first time since I started. The Bahamas are beautiful, but the internet is not so hot.
“Marsh Harbor will take you in his runabout, sir.”
The skinny boy looked no more than twelve, and made younger by the eagerness of expression.
“I don’t want to be a bother,” I said.
“I am an excellent driver, sir,” said the boy. “The best on the Cay.”
The car was a right-hand drive Austin Moke of considerable antiquity. I wedged myself into the passenger seat. The boy gunned it, spraying a fantail of sand behind us.
“Your name is Marsh Harbor?” I said, trying to keep my voice steady. “Like the town?”
“I was named after it, sir. You are from Miami?”
“No. I’ve been there, though”
He grinned. “All my life, I have longed to go to Miami. I have never left Green Turtle Cay.”
“Not even to Nassau?”
“No sir. My grandmother forbids it. She says Nassau is a place of sin.”
“But not Miami.”
“No sir. Miami is the New World.”
What Pegman Saw: Bahamas
rode up on his motorcycle
and tossed me a wrapped canvas toolkit
in my dream. Greasy wrenches
screwdrivers so old the walnut handles
looked like rocks.
He knew I was in trouble
had been a long time
all my old friends
had turned against me
for reasons of their own
and I had never
felt so alone
In this dream his motorcycle
was the one from the picture
of him in the first war
puttees and riding pants,
the machine more like
a motorized bicycle except
for rails to strap things on,
blankets and guns.
My grandfather died when I was eight
half his brain removed from cancer
one dead eye looking out opposite his caved-in skull
half his thick white hair shaved away
the last time I saw him
In my dream h e was young again
winking at me from his motorcycle
he flicked his wrist too fast to see.
The canvas toolkit flew toward me from the blur of his hand.
I woke up before I could unwrap it,
tried to remember
what he’d said
tried to remember the tools,
how he had arranged them,
what they were for
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“Oh dear,” she said as she peered into the garden. “There seem to be more of them.”
He joined her at the window. “Hell and death. When the devil did he do that?”
Her cup ratted against the china saucer. She steadied it with her free hand. “I don’t know. Perhaps he goes and builds them at night.”
“In the dark?”
“I do wish you would reconsider my suggestion.”
“To call the mad doctor? For the Earl? Never in life. Think of scandal.”
“I can’t think of anything except those damned cairns. Where does he find the stones?”
He was a regular, driving in from Hardyston for a Saturday haircut once a month.
I remember him coming into the shop that first day. I got a good look at him while I cut his hair. His expression was strange. Haunted, I’d call it. Something about his eyes.
He said it was a shortcut, but one look at a map showed me that was bullshit. Clinton road went from nowhere to nowhere. No, he drove it for one reason.
I got out of him, eventually. Children like wraiths, standing by the side of the road in rain or snow or sunshine. They said nothing, but he said he knew what they wanted.
At first he tried to resist, tried and tried to not go. But in the end, he had to take that drive again. Late at night. Alone.
Sheriff found his car with wallet and keys locked inside.
What Pegman Saw
My daughter Ethel is especially fond of this road, insisting on driving it whenever I go back to New Jersey to visit her (and sometimes backing out at the last minute).
One of her favorite places is the abandoned zoo , a cursed place if there ever was one. Jungle Habitat
The wilderness of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut has a peculiar creepiness that you need to experience to fully understand.
The become much more believable. ghost stories of Washington Irving
The hills are alive with ghosts.
“You too, Joey?”
“I got nothing against them personally, Jack. I just don’t want to box with them.”
“So that’s it, then? You’re quitting?”
“No. Maybe go to Lopez’s.”
“You boys don’t have a problem with the Spanish, then.” The old man sat back in his chair, the old wood creaking with the weight. Joey could see the ghost of a fighter’s body beneath the thin shirt, the hard-won biceps and pectorals. “I’ll need my speed gloves back. And the shoes.”
The boy stood looking at the ground.
“Just that it wasn’t my idea, Jack.”
“I know, kid.”
“Ah! There you are my boy!” The old gentleman smiles up from his table. “I hoped I would see you today.”
“Sir,” I reply. “How do you do this evening?”
“Splendid!” He claps his hands, gestures to the chair. “Won’t you join me for a glass of Sillery? It goes down well after such a hot afternoon.”
I see no way out of it. He pours the sparkling yellow wine into a tall glass. “So tell me, young man. Are you a political animal?”
“Do you hold opinions? A philosophy? Something about you that is more durable than your excellent manners and obvious wealth?”
His cold blue eyes pierce me. I realize now that he must know, must have seen us together. We have been careless. We cannot help ourselves. Her recklessness is an aphrodisiac for us both.
He expects an answer. A correct one.
I clear my throat.
What Pegman Saw
“IF I TRY TO FIND some useful phrase to sum up the time of my childhood and youth before the First World War, I hope I can put it most succinctly by calling it the Golden Age of Security.”
― Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European
The European summer of 1914 was marked by especially fine weather, day upon day of glorious sunshine and warm afternoons. The spas of Bohemia were a favorite destination for the noble and wealthy.
By winter, the world left behind its innocence as the Great War began, killing or wounding a quarter million young men in a matter of weeks. Soon enough, Bohemia itself would cease to exist.
My wife brought in the stack of Christmas cards to sign. I shook my head.
“It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.”
She smiled. “I like to get a jump on things.”
I almost said
probably addressed them in January, but I caught myself in time.
I thanked her and went to my study. I opened the first card. It was to the Thomasons. Their daughter was Wendy’s best friend since kindergarten. Our families had spent summer vacations together once.
There was the photo. We’d taken it a month or so after the funeral.
Molly, me, Teddy. A family of three now.