For The Hell Of It

Saturday afternoon, drunk already on the surprise sixty degree January sunlight
and the two scorpion bowls we just left empty as churches inside the Ho Toy,
not like the churches in the game we used to play with our hands when we were kids,
here is the church, here is the steeple, turn it all over and here’s all the people,
but totally empty, drained, even the fruit sucked dry, like two fishing boats abandoned,
the pink and blue straws like fishing poles hanging out over the sides. I mean Roanoak empty,
empty as hell, like the Mary Celeste, that ship they found floating out at sea with no one
aboard, the captain’s log filled, the table all set, the people nowhere to be found.
We toddle our way across the Great Plains of the worn and cracked parking lot
and you ask how many years we’ve been coming here and whether I will ever tire
of making the reservations under the name of the Donner Party. I say I feel a little like
the Donners right now coming down from the Sierra Nevadas after the luncheon buffet.
We squint stupid like Bush at what’s left of the rest of the day and wonder why anyone
ever drinks this much this early, or better yet, why everyone doesn’t, the day turned to lint,
horsefeathers, fuzz, the day rode hard already and put away wet, the day pretty much shot,
or at least winged a little, the day narrowed, divided into good driver, bad driver, drunk,
non-drunk, us vs. them, the other poor bastards who’d better get out of our way.
And I remember the day in junior high when we elected a bad class president,
when the word had spread from the snitches to the teachers to the extent that both
the principal and the vice-principal showed up at the meeting to talk us all out of it,
to warn us of the dangers inherent in voting that way, to strive in our hearts, in our better
selves against even considering the punk kid with green hair who had promised free beer
in the Coke machines and a class trip to Hell Mountain at the end of the year, but we did it
anyway, just for the hell of it, to fulfill perhaps the infinite prophecies of all our elementary
school teachers who had been screaming for years that we were all nothing but trouble,
that this class was different, to the degree that people all over town were actually wondering
what our parents had been up to nine months to the day before we arrived, the power outage
along the East Coast perhaps, all our parents having gone to bed early that night,
drunk and disorderly, except for one couple, the parents of the good kid, the one wearing
glasses, the one with perfect attendance, the one we didn’t vote for, the one we left standing
on the stage by himself, who, for all intents and purposes is standing there still,
tears in his eyes, looking at us, wondering who the hell we think we are.