Glory and I walked along 149th street toward my apartment. It was dark and gloomy, just the way I had always liked it. It could have been perfect only had it been Halloween or Walpurgisnacht, but it was an ordinary day. The desolation of Memorial park had an eerie feel, of something supernatural as if specters watched us from some hidden shadow.
Glory had her hand in mine, just where I wanted it, underneath the constellations of Hercules and Corona Borealis. I wanted to know about the stars so I could navigate us out of here. There would never be enough time for us here, in this world, in this form. We had to hurry. We all know death is close but I knew death was closer than I preferred, inching forward each second. I was comforted by the fact that I knew someone like Glory. I also knew it was only a matter of time before I fucked this up. Wilhelm, ever the saboteur. Just leave me enough rope.
“Fuck!” I said.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Glory asked, stopping in her tracks and pulling me toward her by the hand. She pulled me closer, placing the back of my knuckles on her mouth as if testing for heat.
“It’s Mr. Dailor.” I said, staring at her, thinking about how we could be standing one day, this far apart at a ceremony, making tough promises, hoping never to stray, hoping our feelings never change for the worse.
“Mr. Dailor? Who’s he?”
“This guy. I’ve known him my entire life but it’s always so awkward with him. I grew up with his son, we were close in elementary school but drifted apart after that. He is a good guy. I think he became a teacher. Mr. Dailor grew up with my mother, Hattie.”
“So what’s the matter? What’s the big deal? Besides the fact he looks a bit off his rocker.”
“Every time I see him he asks me about my mother. ‘How is your mom?’ I just hate lying about it.”
“So don’t. You don’t have to lie about anything. You don’t owe him an explanation. Wilhelm, you don’t have to talk about it or do anything you don’t want to. With him, with me, with anyone.”
“Wilhelm!” Mr.Dailor yelled, changing direction and pulling his mangy looking dog with him. He was one of the few who called me by my proper name. I appreciated that about Mr.Dailor. “How are you? You look good.”
“And who is this? She’s hot!”
“This is Glory. I agree. Glory, this is Mr.Dailor.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, Glory. You are a very pretty girl. Nice job Wilhelm! He is a handsome man even though he’s been mixing it up it seems. That’s a good way to lose your looks.”
“Uh. Thank you.”
“I agree.” Said Glory, jutting me with her elbow. I felt like I was bright red. Feverish.
“How is your mother? Glory, did you know my first girlfriend was Wilhelm’s mother. Hattie was so lovely.” Mr.Dailor looked up at the sky, reflecting on his own youth. I did not want to even try to wonder what he was thinking about.
“I did not know that. Young love.” Glory said.
“How would you?” I said to her, smiling.
“Hattie was, what was she? Breathtaking. She really was something. I haven’t seen her in such a long time. How is she doing?”
“I wouldn’t know.” I knew how she was. She was alone and destroyed. Heartbroken and irreparable.
“What does that mean? How would you not know? I don’t understand that.”
“The truth is I haven’t spoken a single word to her in about eight years.”
“No way! Why? I would never not talk to my kids. Wow.”
“It’s sad. It’s not how I want it to be. We just cease to have a relationship.”
“That’s so sad. What happened? I don’t understand.”
“There are reasons. They’re all pretty shitty. The whole situation is shitty.”
“Wilhelm, she is your mom, man. You have to talk to her. I know how she can be.” We both knew what he was implying. “But she needs you. You should call her. Patch things up. You are good kid, do the right thing. Help her.”
“I can’t, I can’t talk to her. I can’t help her. I can’t do anything. Hey Mr.Dailor, I’m sorry, we have to get going.”
“Alright Wilhelm, but think about it.” I always think about it. “Put ice on that eye. Nice meeting you, Glory.”
“It was nice to meet you. Good night, Mr.Dailor. You’re puppy is eating something.”
“Shit. Karloff, don’t eat that.”
We walked along the benches where years ago the older kids hung out at, we passed the handball I wrote on hundreds of times. I don’t know if Glory noticed it, but I wrote ‘It is possible I have done nothing important. – W.Flood’ across eighty feet of handball court. I was surprised it hadn’t been buffed yet. How is it possible some people never accomplish anything in the duration of their lifetime? How is it possible to be content? Why is it that I have continuously wanted more from this monotonous existence without anything worthwhile ever happening. Why couldn’t I do something more? Anything.
We wash away the routine for years at the public house we walked passed, the bar where my friends might have very well been inside. I’ve walked this street so many times. I wanted to walk a different way home for once but I knew I’ve already exhausted every avenue here in Whitestone. Glory squeezed my hand, I didn’t want her pity, it was too much, she didn’t need to know all that.
“So, wow. Eight years. That is a long time. You okay?”
“I suppose. I think I tend to reside in the flux of okay and not okay.” I was never okay, but that was my problem, not hers. I thought that was all I would be for Glory, a problem. She should run from me. Fast and far.
We didn’t say much to each other. When we walked I almost felt like it was already all ruined. The relationship was corrupted. Or was it all in my head. I thought of the fast paced walks on cold nights from the bar. I thought of the other cities and the other lives I might have had if I just left this place behind me. I thought about how I wanted to be in my bed with Glory with everything stricken from the record. Inadmissible in heart. I thought of Hattie. How I hated coming home, the ponderous dread that coursed through me and rained down on me. Eight years later Hattie is somewhere and I felt so guilty for how her life turned out. I was sure I would be the one to find her dead all those times I came home. That looming feeling of death is never absent, it’s right on our heels.