In the stealthy, secret, small world of his very young self, he watches his parents’ eyes; his father’s go dopey, droop, then wide, then lidded, open, and finally, finally closed. But not yet, he can’t do it yet. Soon, his father is sleeping in his chair, snoring a light burr like his mother slumbering in hers, she had been asleep for some time. His father must also be breathing deep sighs, chin to chest, for it to be time.
The beer waits on the floor by his father and mother, smelling of wheat, releasing a scent sharp and pronounced, mellow and soft, promising distilled Neverland impressions that cannot be soaked up any other way. Sometimes some was left by mistake, sometimes none; tonight there is more, and he drinks greedily with aching, pulsing hunger for the feelings of communion, liberation, and sweet spinning sleep. More, there must be more. After he has taken in delicious gulps he is sucking at the dregs. Then, there it is, he is separating from this world and wrapped in warm sensations, sinking into drifting mists made from maternal hugs, harmony, belonging, murmurings of soothing relief. He lies down and floats with the weightless, formless island of whirling and beautiful dreams, sated, for this is love.
But the bench under the trees is unyielding, and the river provides scant breeze in its meeting with the sea, mixing the humid Southern blanket that smothers him down to stillness. All is slowly easing, smoothing out now, but the soft, mellow love he remembers remains just out of reach. Every day he tries to rediscover that dulcet place, when he is not walking aimlessly around the city, waiting. Every day falls just short. He empties the quart bottle into himself and sits, holding the hollow glass container close, longing to be loved again.
Robert Bruce Caruthers grew up in a suburb of Boston and spent some time living on the streets there. He currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his boyfriend, in an apartment.