In Sunday School today Miss Hooker said that if we love God and believe Jesus is His Son and never sin or at least try hard not to because no man's sinless then we'll go to Heaven. In my workbook I'm drawing a picture of Superman. When I get home and after I eat lunch I'll play with the dog a while and then take, a nap and then get up and finish my homework for regular school and then play with the dog some more (I don't want him tobe lonely, he's just a dumb animal even if that means he'll get to Heaven but I've got to work in get in there) and then read my new comic book, which I bought last Friday night, after we ate out, but not the dog, of course, I mean my folks and I, at the Davis Brothers Diner next to the Dunaway Rex-all Drug Store.
That morning, Hank’s boss sent for him. Mr Capelli’s office was a spartan place, save for the open box of Cubans on the desk. Behind a blue-grey smokescreen, Capelli spluttered, ‘You want one, Hendricks?’
‘No, thank you.’ Hank had quit the year he met his future wife.
‘You do right,’ Capelli coughed. ‘Disgusting habit, I know. But you know what? It’s turning into one of those days. He outlined the issue in microscopic detail. Hank made mental notes, although it was always a variation of the same story. ‘Back in the Depression, I could have understood us getting messed around. Those were desperate times, but now…’ Capelli sighed. ‘Jeez, does a contract mean nothing in 1971?’
She always loved those final stairs of the tube on nights when there was a gig in town. It had rained all day, and cars threw up spray as their headlights passed, making the streets shimmer. Ticket touts bought and sold at the top of their lungs, competing for attention from the crowd who arrived after hours of pre-drinking. Buskers laid guitar cases down and played as warm-up to the main acts at the Academy nearby: imagine all the people, sharing all the world. The street-sellers burnt incense down the road, and it floated into her face. This place had life.
While stacking another dirty dish on top of the leaning pile of dishes from the previous week’s meals, I turn on the radio to hear the talk show host announce a seventy two car pileup on the freeway two blocks from my home, a neighborhood filled with cars and mopeds and motorcycles and cyclists all moving at a snail’s pace and honking in harmony with the helicopters swirling above my front door, blocked with Amazon deliveries and pizza boxes and tiny pots filled with dying succulents I got from a kit I ordered and opened inside my living room, covered with magazine clippings of living rooms I wished I had and smelling of pizza and aloe and the collection of essential oils I tried selling to my friends...
On his deathbed, my Grandpa said It’s not a proper funeral if none of my friends can come. Put me in the oven and pull me back up when it’s over. We’ll do it properly then. So we had him cremated and placed in his columbarium niche. Just me, Mum, and his brother Uncle Tim. We called up everyone we knew and said We know it’s a little unusual, we just want everyone to be able to come. He wanted it that way. Then we hunkered down and waited for this whole situation to fix itself up so we could do a proper wake.
When three young adults, three of your fellow high school alumni, three human beings under the age of 40, three people with three stories and three sets of interconnected lives, trauma rippling between partners and siblings and parents and friends in ever-increasing concentric circles, three Delco histories with whom you shared elementary school and senior prom and, later, Facebook celebrations for their hard-fought sobriety, when they all three overdose over the span of three days and you’re struggling to understand, the Internet can be a tool to process.