“Hello! Qué? What!” The squat man shouted into the phone as if the volume would increase the chances of him being understood. The red light from the control panel in the pilot house lit his scowling Mayan face against the black night outside. Next to him, the pilot leaned back in his comfortable swivel chair watching the panel of instruments glowing carmine in the night and cleaning his fingernails with a knife.
If we were smart, we would have been in bed asleep since it was almost tomorrow. The three of us just sat by the firepit shivering, passing a pint of whiskey. Andy’s voice rose above the sound of the waves lapping up against the boats and the boats knocking up against the dock of the marina.
We are swimming across a pool. On my back I can look up and see the bright turquoise sky winking in and out of the ivory buildings. My friend turns over athletic arms. Face down; she turns to breath, correct, precise. I can see her shoulders turn in their sockets to pull through the water. Water takes the teeth grinding anxiety and floats it off, exorcising demons of fatigue and confusion.
I’d been working at the Piggly-Wiggly about six weeks when Mr. Blocker threw the can. I was stocking TP when I first saw it sailing over the paper products aisle, slow motion like a movie. It was a 26 ounce can of Delmonte baby peas with the green label.
When I turned fifty, I had recovered from busting my ACL on the ski mountain. My horse was sold. My son was off to school. I was not yet a principal at my school. Deep in my gut was a burning irritation with life that I could not soothe.