Aunt Emma, the homecoming
My last night back home, I rallied my townie friends and family and we all got liquored up on the train tracks. Around midnight my sister busted out her prescription speed and we went down to the river to shoot pistols at beer cans and see who could swim out the furthest without getting dead. Not thinking, I jumped in fully clothed and destroyed my cell phone. I swam out to a concrete island that served as a drainage pipe for the slew and looked around, taking inventory of these people who shaped me during my formative years.
My sister was an odd young woman who collected “lost” animal posters to wallpaper her office. She had just got into taxidermy as a profession and her freezer was full of dead animals she scraped off the pavement. My cousin was being a bum, getting drunk and chasing skirt, running a porn site from our aunt’s basement. My best friend was working the graveyard shift at the 7-11 by the airport, recovering from his second suicide attempt. As for me, I had just got back from defrauding online casinos in both London and Amsterdam.
As the sun came up all painful and yellow, I could see how old we had become. Feeling strung out and exhausted, we wandered into some bar called “The Woodsman.” Inside there was an odd mix of truckers and speed freaks, over-the-hill waitresses and rednecks. The waitresses all had shirts that read “Goodfellas” on them and we were like, Hey wait a minute: it says “The Woodsman” out front. What gives? The waitresses just shrugged and went back to pounding Bloody Marys and smoking cigarettes behind the bar.
We sat down and drank a few Hamms, then called a cab. As the music blared, I felt a strange, seeping feeling, realizing that I was currently in a state of perfection, depressing as it all was.
As we all lied in my Aunt’s driveway, still awake at 10 a.m., my thoughts kept wandering to the different people and things of the week I had spent back home. Old haunts I inadvertently ran into and slept with; friends who are losing their minds and going nowhere; family members who seem to just be getting more and more senile by the second. And I realized for the first time that people don’t grow up — they just get old and die.
I especially got stuck on something my ex said to me on some hung over gray-blue morning. “It’s funny how you can change so much without changing at all, Knox.”
As I lit a Lucky Strike, my recently divorced Aunt walked up and said, “Oh, Lord—Knox, can you help me find a nice, single guy?”
I paused a moment, listening to the clicketty-clack-clack of the dryer. For some reason, I had thought it was a good idea to put my cell phone inside it.
And I said, “Aunt Emma… I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
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