1 Sportsmen's Magazines
She sometimes thought of him as locked inside himself yet watchful, as if peering out from a sportively camouflaged pre-fabricated waterproof hutch through a darkened, pine bough-draped portal, careful at whatever cost not to be seen. For all she knew the discreetly-folded exploratory messages she continued to poke in through the opening and let flutter earthward were accumulating there amid the leaf mulch, untouched, slowly returning to the soil.
Had she never learned anything beyond the original lesson inculcated in a benighted and abiding home, To hug a bad bargain closer?
She leafed sometimes through the yellowed mildewing pages of the stacks of collectible sportsmen's magazines he kept in a sturdy maple rack. What was that stale smell, sharp, but from outside the recognizable and familiar olfactory penumbra of mould, more mysterious, which emanated from beneath the lovely illustrated covers of vintage ancient issues of these periodicals of hunting and fishing, with their pungent tales of life and death in field and stream?
First it's whistling lips, and then truck, fish, hunt, the eternal verities. The original capitulation recapitulated and compounded.
2 The Headless Woman
Today she was away in town on her businesses. He was in his room cleaning his guns.
The rough crushing of tires upon gravel bestirred him, abruptly he awoke from reverie and staggered to the doorway, to the landing, down the stairs and was waiting as she emerged from the auto with packages in her arms, Oh stop right there, and he moved across the red gravel, his steps crunching it.
I'm afraid I may have sideswiped a parked car in town. When he said nothing but merely stood agape, she regathered. Well, I did, I suppose I hit it, she said. She nodded vaguely toward her fender. You see? The paint is scraped. There.
3 Now Some Time Passes
The years had been diffuse, were barely remembered, yet apparently passable, as they both remained alive. Rank acres of goldenrod now gone to seed along the edge of an unflowered forest, isolated at the end of a winding road, a mire in winter, muddy in spring, rutted in summer, never at any time easy, but in summer at least one could almost forget winter. Vines filtering patient fingers through outcroppings of rusted car parts. The soggy pastures, the acrid wind, the bitter wilderness, now in summer bloated with a sort of heavy density, a thickness of air that disgusted and at times sickened her.
4 In the Tunnel of Trees
She turned away. The light crunching of her footsteps. He kept his head down, looking droopy-eyed as he walked behind her into the house. She pushed open the screen door, which wheezed from within its spring mechanism, and as she strode through the doorway, out of the hard light in which he still toiled to follow, into the cooler shaded area area beyond, she kicked out at an umbrella stand, but missed it, and behind her the screen door slammed.
Deer hunting blind: photo by MJCdetroit, 2006
Tunnel of Trees: photo by Bobak Ha'Eri, 2009