Tangiers in Early Spring / “Jurassic Park”

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2013 Barrett Winner

2nd Place Sean Moylan

Tangiers in Early Spring

Steam from the burnt coffees stings my eyes.
The cream churns and rolls inside her cup,
a little storm of microscopic proportions when
she stirs in her sugar and spills a bit
on the chipped white counter under
the Hot Corned Beef sign
vibrating above our heads. She pulls
the beaded string and suddenly there
is no more hot corned beef. People
will surely be disappointed by that.
The two Dylan tickets I placed in the wrapping
of the flowers just sit there.
She picks at a hangnail while her
coffee cools down and I stare at the gift
remembering how gravity had pulled us in
and that time she told me she’d make me lonesome
when she went.

“Jurassic Park”

‘Have you ever noticed the dinosaur on the moon,’
a hand brushes a shoulder.
A finger points toward the night.
A Tyrannasaur appears.
‘I don’t know about all this man on the moon business,
but I do know there’s a dinosaur.
Right there. There. Right there.’
Torches lit on back porches
keep away the bugs.
Torches lit beneath awnings help
keep couples on back porches seeking
out lunar dinosaurs even as the seasons and leaves
brown, crisp and fall away. Torches on
back porches. ‘Doesn’t it
remind you of Jurassic Park?
The cover with the skeleton and
the silhouette and the backdrop that looks
like the moon?’
Some people on torch-lit back porches have never
seen Jurassic Park. Some people on
Torch-lit back porches just say
‘Yeah, wow, now I see it!’ because some
people on torch-lit back porches are more
interested in the hand brushing the shoulder.

— Amanda,

I apologize for taking so long writing you. I suppose I’m still getting settled here. Adjusting to the new schedule, time zone, that sort of thing. I’ll be working on getting a cell phone once I pocket a few paychecks. I’m not sure how the cell phone service works in Nova Scotia, but you’ll be the first person I call. Or text. Either way, you’re at the top of the list. Berwick’s a lovely little place. A small farming subdivision with cozy little shops and a nice little bar I’m sure to get to know. I don’t think there are more than 3,000 people here. Everyone’s either old or young and the old people work and the young people do drugs and drive cars and wear hats. The old people wear hats, too, but you don’t notice it on them so much. Despite the youth and their drugs, the air feels nice here. Fall’s going to be glorious. You should think about visiting me.

It’s funny the things you think about when you remove yourself from your society. I’d recommend everyone take a multi-day train ride. Doesn’t matter where you go. Being alone with yourself. That’s what matters. Trains, planes, ships. That doesn’t matter either. It’s that time alone, that time you spend feeling like a great American traveler. A trainhopper of the not-so-old America. Criss-crossing the continent drinking bottles of cheap wine with strangers, some of whom don’t stay strange for very long. Some of whom only grow stranger with each pass of the bottle. I didn’t share any wine with anyone on my trip here, but I would have. I’m sure it’s all better for a more romantically-inclined person. I really think you’d love it.

I was laying in my bunk one night thinking of Daryll and his car. Do you remember that? Were you at that party? One of those fantastic nights where things seem to come together. Everyone home at the same time. Everyone particularly thirsty on the same night. Doesn’t happen but maybe once or twice a summer. Anyway, I wound up crashing Daryll’s car. Of course I wind up crashing his car. My brother dropped me off at Daryll’s place earlier in the afternoon. We hung out drinking some beers for a few hours and cordially supping on the juice of the barley until the other people showed up. By the grace of whatever god he claims, Frank (you know Frank, right? Frank Webber? Friend of Amy’s from Riverview?) showed up at the party around eleven or so with a huge bag of weed. Temptation dictating, a bunch of us went around behind the garage and got belligerently high. Oxymoron right? Ha! You know something? I think you were there with us. I could be wrong, but some part of me distinctly remembers you being there. Anyway, after that first session I stopped drinking. You know how it is. Too much of one ruins the other, yadda yadda. We sit around for hours talking, playing endless games of euchre. Taking periodic trips behind the garage. Jimmy breaks through the door and demands a ride home. I think he had vomit smeared on his shirt, but I wasn’t entirely too curious about all that. We jostled him to stay at Daryll’s. He was already there. What’s the big deal. Nope. He had to go and he had to go now. Somehow I managed to find myself as the champion of sobriety at that point and wisely concluded that I would martyr myself for Jimmy’s cause. I’d take Daryll’s car, which was no big deal. I drove that old girl all the time. Daryll’d been passed out for hours as it was.

I get to Jimmy’s street and of course there’s a cop lurking with his lights off. I imagine he was waiting for some innocent folk to make some kind of egregious blunder. He would then pounce like a lion hiding in the shadows, leaving nothing but a bloodied carcass for the rejects of the pride to gnaw and mangle. Needless to stay, I freaked out a bit and parked the car in front of his house. Naturally, while we’re standing on the porch and the cop is surely watching us, Jimmy can’t find his god forsaken keys. He bumbles around in his million pockets while I wedge my thumb up my ass, slowly but surely becoming increasingly more paranoid. There’s no way this cop isn’t pulling me over when I leave here. I was the fatted calf, Amanda, ready for the slaughter. I decide, when Jimmy finally manages to open the door, to just wait-out the cop and calm myself down.

You know I’m allergic to dogs. Everyone knows I’m allergic to dogs. Jimmy has dogs. Jimmy has not one or two, but four dogs each one bigger than the last. Each one hairier than its brethren. I can’t wait here any longer than five minutes lest I commit passive suicide. Jimmy’s ok? Good. I’m out. I get in the car, can’t spot the cop, and leave. I’m just cruising down Ford back to Daryll’s house. Here he comes behind me. Stalking. The cop is back. Instinctively, my first measure of self-defense is to find a turn-around leading to a side-street. I’ll park in front of any house and pretend like it’s mine. I’ll walk into the backyard and wait, like I own the place. It’s worked once before. Have to try it again. Constantly checking the rear-view, I think I have a clearing lane across Ford, and BAM. I’m jerked around like those kids on leashes at Sea World. Goddamn SUV in my blind spot. The only other car on the road. Besides the cop. He wastes no time flipping his lights on, asking if we’re ok and making me walk in straight lines with my finger on my nose. Why he didn’t just breathalyze me in the first place, I’ll never understand. He made me blow three times. I was so close. If Frank didn’t show up when he did. Man. I don’t know. I’d have gone to jail.

The car wasn’t totalled, thankfully, and I left Daryll a nervous voicemail. He didn’t call me back in the morning. He showed up at my house. He grabbed me by the collar and punched my square in the face. I said good morning and he told me to piss off. I was able eventually to tell him what I just told you, and I assured him I’d pay him whatever it cost to fix the car. He basically told me ‘damn right’ and softened after a bit, asking if I was ok and expressing his gratitude for me not killing anyone.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write all this to you. I suspect it’s entirely centered around searching for a connection in a new, unfamiliar place. It’s very stream-of-consciousness, writing a letter to a friend is. I’m glad to have such a friend as you. Such a friend to be willing to receive the regurgitation on the page of the thoughts in my head. I look forward to hearing from you. Give my regards to your parents and to Gabby. I really do think you’d like it here.

With love, I am

Yours,

Sean