Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Sketch

The picture sat on the desk mocking him from behind the screen. It was a simple thing, really, a sketch of an old cigarette ad. The vested sax player stared at him across time and space, playing some silent tune, a memory that was happily slumbering two hours ago. But it sprung out from the holiday decorations box and onto the floor. Honestly, he had thought the picture was lost two or three moves ago. 

What does she look like now? A homely girl that everyone ignored, the only reason he even met her was passed out at a party that had already died. He would have been just as happy for her not to have woken up. But, no, his buddy threw his empties at her, and he had to open his mouth. So began the four year odyssey of drama and pain. 

It was fun at first. Impulsive and spontaneous, she would chide him for public displays of affection and then pull him behind a car to have her way. Emotions more changeable than the weather and more powerful than the tides buffeted him. There was the call where he thought she was going to kill herself, only to find out after making the hour ride she fell asleep and she wondered why I had come. They broke up and made up more times than he could remember every encounter more intense than the last.

Finally, she ran off with a teacher at the college. She ended up getting charged with interference of custody when she sheltered the kids during the divorce. The charges were settled and the teacher moved on without her.  One of the last calls to him had been trying to talk her off the ledge. He had assured her she was worthy of someone, even though it wasn’t him. 

After all the legal crap, she dropped completely out of sight. Over the years, there had been updates passed on from mutual friends. She had never married. Drifting from town to town, she eventually settled in a small fishing town and worked for an oil company as a safety manager. 

The sketch was the only skeleton left. He had watched her draw it, eyes focused and to Hell with the rest of the world, including him. None of proportions were right, but that didn’t matter. Nothing in their relationship was right either. She thought since the band was still together, it fit. It was gift for his birthday and was supposed to have been a surprise. So, he kept up the charade of being surprised, like she kept up her charade of sanity. And the party did go as well as could be expected. 

Now he is digging bones in the cemetery of his mind. Just because a two bit amateur drawing wouldn’t leave him alone. A cup of coffee stands cold alone next to the keyboard. The wife somehow understands. She had never been her rival, just a ghost in his past that never really went away. And this exorcism is the only way for peace to prevail.

With a couple of strokes, the mother’s obituary is seen. The list of survivors confirms the location. With another inquiry, an address and a phone number is written down. The oscillating hand drifts between the keyboard and phone, not sure. The ring startles him out of the daze. The caller ID blinks the number of a fake veteran’s charity that has called before. They can talk to the machine, he thinks as he presses the reject symbol. Mechanically sipping the cold coffee, he gathers his wits. 

Was this really a good idea? 

There was only one way to find out.

He picked up the phone.

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