Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Motel News

The little town in which I once upon a time found myself had a surprisingly nice public library where I could spend a couple hours checking my email, reading the newspaper, and browsing through books on local history.

At the back of this library there was a spacious and sunny enclosed porch that jutted out over what might have been either a lake or a swollen river. I could have probably found the answer to that question  in one of the local history books, I suppose, but I was distracted.

Through the big glass windows of this porch I stood and watched as they dragged a body out of the lake or river almost directly beneath me.

I was in the midst of a long drift at the time, and couldn't have told you where I was if you'd pasted my mugshot on a wall map that had all of the place names printed in big, black letters. I saw them drag that body out of the water, though. It was hard to miss that. I saw them heave the body from the water and drag it through the tall grass along the bank. You couldn't really tell what it was other than, unmistakably, a body. The guys who did the dragging were wearing plastic gloves, and there were a lot of guys wearing plastic gloves; it seemed like everybody that was standing around wanted to have a hand in pulling that body from the water.

They rolled the body into a shiny black bag and I watched as they wheeled the shiny black bag away and tucked it inside an ambulance.

It was a small town, that much I know, and every cop, firefighter, and news reporter in town was down there, as well as the usual mob of kids on bikes and old folks out walking dogs.

Later, on the local TV station, I heard the body had been some eighty-three-year-old woman. I was on the bed in a motel room when I learned this news. They said it appeared the woman had been in the water for quite a long time; months, they said. They knew her name, and showed a photo of her on the screen, a shot that looked like it might have been from a church directory.

A little fucking town like that and nobody had even reported her missing. I think it was at that precise moment –as I was staring at the photo of a smiling old woman—that I decided it was time to go home.

On any number of occasions I have learned that if you fall off this planet you can fall for a long time, and much of that time you won't even feel like you're falling. Gravity is sometimes brutal, but it's at the very least a sort of connection and a binding, and as such is mostly a beautiful thing, and beautiful things are blessings.

So I guess this is the advice I can offer you today: Hold on.