THINGS THE ISLAND RAISES UP BEHIND THE HOUSE LIKE, FOLLOWED BY A TRANSCRIPT OF A TAPED CONVERSATION THAT TIMOTHY AND RODAN HAVE IN THE HOUSE, A HUNTING LODGE ON A REMOTE ICELANDIC ISLAND.
The island raises up behind the white house like:
- a chain-link fence Little League backstop, and the kids keep their Gatorade cups in the fence, though wild pitches and foul balls fell a few throughout the course of play (and the game probably ends in a tie. “A tie? What the?” and you say, “yeah, it got dark we couldn’t keep playing. We don’t have lights like you guys.”
- a whale, huge and beautiful in its own right, exiting the ocean on E (as in empty, not ecstasy), hungry to eat a hunting lodge and whoever may be in it waiting to pick-off puffins, not sympathetic in the least to their fretful, probably binocular eyes, the hunters aren’t, and the way they turn their whole heads to see the sad world encroaching green on their eggs and everythings, the puffins do, those waddling little orange wonders that escaped sky-fishing extinction, but aren’t safe still on remote islands; the hunters, the whales, the sadness, oh my! They sneak, they snuck, “they don’t care about you, puffins!”
-A wave, an ocean wave, shoulder and chest forming in winter greens, darker as it lips casting a shadow on itself like we all do at one time or another, though we’re not islands, just humans mostly, trying to do the right thing, though it’s never that cut and dry in real life is it? And don’t you always feel a little conflicted? And aren’t you pretty much just waiting for the shit to hit the fan, or should we say, the island to crest/crumble… the tube to collapse on the little white lodge, the little pieces of good intention and whatever-love-is-made-of to be smashed like relics dropkicked by iconoclasts in khaki shirts invading, and, you know, for all your dumb lies and delusions to whitewash up onto the beach for the blonde children of acquaintances to wonder over before the acquaintances lead them away by the hand and glance disgustedly over the shoulder at the flotsam that used to be your everything?
- a burnt cookie covered in grass
- the hill you used to sleigh down by the golf course. You’re the house and you’re looking up, waiting. You see a broken sled, unclaimed. A song you’d hear in 23 years echoing in your timeless, naive brain: “you’ll never die, you’ll never die, you’ll never die, you’ll never die, you’ll never die…”
“We really didn’t get shit of it last time.”
Rodan is mad at Timothy because they “didn’t get shit of it last time,” the last interview. Timothy didn’t feel comfortable talking it out in front of the two-person cow, but they were dead by then, not that that made Timothy at all at ease.
“We should claim the bodies.”
“Body. They were one cow, they would have wanted it that way.”
“Were they always a cow?”
“Show a little respect!”
“Can we go into the past or future and bring the cow back?”
“You don’t understand anything do you now?”
“I guess I don’t”
“If you guess, you don’t. I don’t even think you care. You would be happy throwing them in a ball pit full of feces and copperhead snakes.”
“I’m the one that wants to claim the bodies!”
The tapes were running. Timothy was drinking hot chocolate he found in a cabinet beside the entrance to the crawl space. Rodan looked out the window, double-checked the helicopter. The pilot gave him a thumbs up, as if to say, “all is well out here in the fog, pappy!” and went back to eating his puffin.
“I’m sorry. I love you.”
“I love you too, Rodan.”
“What do you think Monica is doing now?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. Old Konica-Minolta, Multiple Mazda Miata Monica.”
“Silly me. Yes, what do you think the old suitcase is up to?”
Timothy sighed. Puffins on wing escaped the island. Deep in the darkening sea something splashed. Somethings and nothings, he thought, that’s all there is, and what are we? “She’s probably, what?, six hours behind, it’s midday, she’s either at the mall, or drinking in the closet, right?”
“Are those some things she does and always did?”
“She didn’t used to drink in the closet. I suppose she always shopped in one way or another.”
“If you knew that, right now, she was looking for you, what would you say to her?”
“I don’t know.” He really didn’t. “Find me, I guess.”
“It really looks like you love this one.”
“I do – you know I do. That’s what this is all about.”
“No. and no. This is about everything else.”
“I don’t – ”
“And I hate to say this this far in, but you have to find her and learn to love her and live with her and, it’s probably too late to get her full of your babies, neither of you is a winter chicken, but maybe you can get a dog – project upon it this feely feely love…”
“What the fuck, Rodan!” Rodan jumped back and laughed. “This isn’t helping.”
“I’m just kidding. Fuck a dog. Tell me about your dad.”
“I don’t –”
“Well what do you want to talk about?”
“Fuck…” a long pause. “I remember this – and I don’t know why this just popped into my head, but Mona and I were on the couch, and I was watching bear videos, and I accidentally clicked on something for this installation in Germany by some artist I never heard of. And the video was for a piece that was shaped like a tank, but made out of balloons… at the end they let all the balloons go…”
“How did that make you feel?”
“Well, I replayed it for Mona… It made her cry and I cried.”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you okay with not knowing?”
“I think so.”
“You shouldn’t be, Timbo. Remember that not knowing is not caring.”
The helicopter pilot came in.
“Sorry. Am I interrupting? I got bored in the helicopter. There’s not much to do in there if you’re not flying.”
“No. It’s not a problem. I want you to sit down next to Timothy,” the man sat down. He seemed large but it might have been all jacket. “Now I want you, Timothy, to pretend he is you and address him with very honest honesty and try to explain to him how you feel about yourself.”
Timothy stood up and did a lap around the house, came back, sat down, did another lap. Tried to speak, “Timothy, I…” looked back at Rodan, “Do I really have to do this.” Rodan nodded.
“Timothy, I’m disappointed –”
He looked back at Rodan, who pounded his fists into his meaty thighs, yelled, “Don’t be a pussy!”
Timothy slugged himself with a powerful right hook, knocking the stand-in off the inverted orange bucket he was propped upon examining the nails on his right hand.
“HIIIII-HO!” Rodan echoed off the high wooden ceilings of the empty house on the empty island. “A breakthrough,” and kneeled down to address the pilot. “He’s out cold. Now wake his dead face!”
They talked while waiting around until he came to – which is the way people like to say “woke up,” when you’re waking up after an accident or illness – and even then, it wasn’t easy convincing him to fly them home.
“You punched me.”
“I said I was sorry.”
“Yeah, he said he was sorry!”
“I thought you were me.”
“He thought you were him!”
It was a quiet and quite expensive ride back to the mainland.
Timothy smiled the whole way, rubbing his knuckles and flexing his fingers. He’d never hit anyone before, and it felt good.
“Maybe you’re ready to go home.”