The old man who I never really knew and yet for years after his death I aided in cleaning the house he nearly suffocated with hoarding. Like sifting through sand for gold I dug through countless boxes of junk that he had held precious and priceless. Stacks of newspapers and empty cereal boxes reached near to the ceiling creating a chaotic city of rubbish. And did you know he had a sister? How appropriate to be named after her. This Katherine was a smart woman who lived to be 96 If I’m not mistaken. I recall visiting her in at the old folk’s home in Florida. A small room featuring one window open to a view of the tropical garden. Stacks of books in large print spines cracked and torn from the rough love of reading. Books full of crosswords and various paper puzzles lay in a wicker basket by her bed. And did I mention Katherine was always happy to see us? Did I mention that she spelled her name K-A-T-H-Y-R-N? Thus provoking the spelling of Katy to end with a Y. Why indeed because my mother put K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E on my birth certificate so according to the government that is my name.
Rei continues to paddle us far ahead of the others. She pays no heed to the pace of Fort-he. He warns her that the canoe will flip. At several points we nearly crash into a log and he yells “Left Left!” or “Right Right!”
Suddenly it’s a tree that stretches across half the river with it’s web like branches. Long stick limbs like fingers stretch across the river and reach out from under water for us. The water itself had suddenly picked up speed and it all happens too fast. Fort-he is yelling and I fumble with my umbrella reaching for my paddle. Too late. The boat flips and we are in the water. I feel my umbrella pressed against my back as the half turned boat is before us is held tight in the might trees grip. I can see it being pulled further into that branchy web by the force of the current. Fort-he grabs the boat and stops it from being pulled in further with the panic strength of he-man on adrenaline. Rei does the same with silent determination and concentration. All this as I hold my twisted tea in the air and grab the cooler. Booze first you know. I’m quickly handed their two paddles. “Hold these they cost money!” I am told. I step back away from the battle. I am the keeper of items, our valuable treasure. I suppose my ability to maintain my umbrella, beer, and save the cooler proved my place on the team.
“We’re missing a paddle!” I inform them.
Much to my horror I realize the current is stronger there at the tree. Both Rei and Fort-he are being pulled into the branches with the sinking canoe. They are literally within the web of sticks and twigs getting sucked in deeper by the second.
Help arrives in the form of a well experienced father daughter team. The girl may be a teenager but they both seem to have done this before so we welcome the assistance. They walk right into the web of branches showing no fear. They grab the boat and help begin to pull it out of the monsters grip.
My paddle is found and it is handed to me. I am holding a large stack of things at this point standing right in the middle of the river as other canoes float past me. Someone yells to me that I am doing the most important job. I simply smile with gritted teeth for all the stuff I am holding requires balance to maintain.
They all work together and the canoe comes forward slowly but surely. I am handed another paddle. This is a forth paddle with a green end and a lighter wooden handle. “What?” It was found from within the beast. I suppose it was our prize for conquering the thing. Rei and Fort-he had lost their beers but nothing else was lost. A new paddle gained seemed quite a triumph in my eyes.
It took us a while to get back on the river. Much thanks to our family team saviors. Rei is focuses her energy into paddling and I help this time with the cool new paddle. In no time at all we have caught up with the others who had passed us during the chaos
Back out we walked into the rain like entering another world. This world was wet cold and harsh. People were clumsy and drunk out here. They are the stragglers and stumblers left over from other locations who finally yelled out last call like a night bell ringing out over the town. Greencoat decided he wanted some Late Night Slice pizza. This is the cool pizza place that projects movies onto the wall. I’ve been wanting to hang out there and watch a movie for some time but I realized on Friday at least the play music so you couldn’t hear the movie if you wanted. None the less I’d still been wanting to try their pizza. I ended up buying a piece of cheese and garlic and yes it was delicious. I really want to try their spicy so I may have to make a meat exception in the near future. Here Rei got pissed about something and reached the point of yelling. I just sat inside out of the rain and ate my pizza peacefully. That food was too yummy to worry about her passing grump moment.
We walked back to the car as the rain became a genuine downpour. It took a moment to find because I’d had to park somewhere out of the normal. There in the steady shower of rain. With my feet and shoes getting soaked completely through, It was like walking across a bathtub this steady even layer of ground water, there was my car baconator with a ticket on the window. A soaked through piece of paper. A slushy bit of parchment and ink. $40 when I’d just spent the evening using a credit card. My bank account held but a mere $12.
Greencoat was in the ER when we got there. His head was wrapped up in a very silly manner but I couldn’t laugh for the blood on the pillow and sheets was an unnerving reminder of how serious this could have been. He’d gotten a skull fracture and 19 stiches. He seemed more tired than loopy to me. In any case it was scary and weird to see Greencoat, my brother from another mother, in a hospital ER like this.
So we did what you do when someone you are close to is in the hospital. We hung out and talked. We talked about what happened, about family, about books and pets. Rei had snuck in the beer she got Greencoat to show him (Which made for some funny pictures). I had snuck in some cookies but apparently he was on a no restrictions diet so my daring purse smuggling adventure had been completely unnecessary.
So I guess she got fed up and she told him they shouldn’t talk until he moves back. I did my best to play the supportive friend but I’ll admit I’m an awkward animal so don’t expect much comfort from me.
She had all her blankets and long pillow pulled up besides her in that little corner.
“Do you like this cocoon I made,” She asked motioning to what had become of her bed.
“Yeah,” I said. “I feel like this is your nest and your a bird and I’m this lizard from the neighborhood who’s come over to visit. And I guess this must be Florida because there are no lizards in Ohio.” I lift my Styrofoam coffee cup in the air. (This is a gas station coffee cup from the night before that J-Rabbit had left in my car. I decided to keep it and drink it so I didn’t have to wait for the coffee maker in the morning.)
“And this is like an acorn with some morning dew I collected.” And this is all word for word because this conversation had been recorded. I’m going to eventually make a documentary. It’s going to be about me and Swanky growing up, lower class existence and anything that will be fun to look back on. I’ve been recording us off and on for the last two years. My camera is a piece of shit but I feel like the footage so far is really genuine and maybe someday years from now I’ll find a kick-ass film editor to help me complete the project.
“And we’re sitting here talking about this other bird who used to share your nest but now he’s in this tree all the way over there. And your like what the hell, and he’s like sorry and you’re like bullshit.”
She starts to laugh which is good.