August 4 Murdock

NO JOB. NO MORE SCHOOL. So what am I s'posed to do? I'm not burned like in Vietnam or some dead-end job . . . yet. And still I'm bluer than an upended turtle, marching in air with my belly exposed. Don't know how to get out. Where to go. Work. War. Blur.

First of July I just shut off, thought about where my father was, walked on auto pilot to the Dairy Cool. Got to be a long, hot juke on Ashby Ave. Washed-out stucco of storefronts and alley asphalt blazed my eyes and didn't blink. The cone in my big, black hand looked foreign and something alien.

When I sat in my father's chair there were men on the moon, I swear. Rocking on their heels and talking at me. Then the day the Berkeley heat started to break-- July 20, not a minute too late--I told Regie about it like it was a hallucination and he said, Murdock, man, you have gone crazy, they are up there, did land, all that. Shit, I stared at that cone not convinced it was real while the milky melt dripped sticky down my wrist. Felt it later when the hair on my arm stuck to the skin. They tell me men did walk on the moon, and what am I supposed to do but shrug, shove off the doldrums, and say 'sup to the next run of moods and duds--I hope you'll be more smooth.

The television shimmered an alabaster blue and Momma came in, "Meredith, Meredith honey . . . you got to eat your food. Please baby." Had to be my mother 'cause she called me by my name, and nobody else cares at all whether I touch my plate. "Meredith," earth to Murdock . . . "Meredith, there's so many girls out there . . ." in outer space: "Meredith, why don't you go down to the park and see what the boys are up to."

One man staring blankly at a blur on the screen--was that the earth in the background? One man tilting head up out window to see the moon, a bowl upended, unreal in the blue sky of summer evening. The ice cream, now too liquid, in a bowl. Momma must have put it there, the cone now a dunce cap on the yellow, melting mess. Bowl. Sky. Blur.

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