piano practice

Februrary 24, 2017.

He sits on the piano bench. She sits next to him. They read the music in front of them and bang out atonal note clusters. He plays with his feet and with his butt. Occasionally he turns to look at me. He smiles self-consciously. Continues playing. Now loud. Now quiet. He creates a melody. Plays it a few times in a row. Snippets of song. She and I take turns sitting next to him and playing piano with him. In this way we pass the time between dinner and bed.

band practice

February 24, 2017

After dinner he asks if we want to have a band. He plays his cat piano. She plays a ukulele. Per his request, I play my guitar. A few plucks, strums and plonks and he declares this the worst band ever.

You know what the most important part about being in a band is? I ask.


Having fun.

Then he starts us gain and we play for a longer duration.

the claw


On the train. The planes and angles of his face. The lay of his hair. The shape of the rims of his glasses. His profile.

An instant reliving. I am in an apartment. In the living room. A group of us from the corporate music store I work at. We are gathered for our monthly movie night. It is night. Our host sits in a chair. His sister draped over him in his lap. We are confused.

A break. One by one those gathered slip off to the kitchen for drinks and food. I remain seated with a friend, Rex, and a man known as The Claw. With the planes and angles of his face. His glasses. His hair smashed by stocking cap. He is a giant of gangle limbs sunken into couch cushions. His head leaned back in inebriation.

He speaks in rambles and incoherence. Sometimes the volume of his voice falls so low we have to lean forward and strain to hear his words, then sudden bursts of excitement, speed and volume. A chaos of inflection and cadence. Rhythm and meter.

When he casually mentions that he’d like to kill us, we join the others in the kitchen.

After seeing this stranger on the train. And this memory resurfaced. I dream. I dream of him. I dream that he chances upon me in a bookstore. He as he may be now. He and his wife. The bright lights of this corporate bookstore. Standing between wooden shelves. He approaches from behind, says – boo. And I jump. He is older. But still those same angles and glasses. The lay of his hair. Yes that was me on the train, he says. He and his wife smile friendly.



Snow on the trees. Covering the branches. More snow than we were expecting. Large and heavy. Wet. The car brushed off. Rooftops white. Driving slow. Slower than the speed limit through Aurora. Taquerias. Car repair shops. A hospital.

On the interstate 88. The snow limits vision. A gray haze veil. Eyes focus only on cars in front of our car. No scenery to see. Eaten by snow. Vague buildings. Outlines. Cars ahead disappear.

I am already tired, having not slept much the night before. And this relentless focus on cars and taillights is hypnotic. Music plays. He is talking in the backseat. About what he sees outside. About the birthday party for his cousin that we are coming from. About playing in the snow. Playing with his superhero toys.

My eyes swim. I rub them. Tap my cheeks with fingers. The heat from the defrost vents blow into my face. Furthering hypnotic.

To change lanes is to pass through slick slush. A loud vibration and slipping noise. A car ahead and a lane to the right. Swerving within its lane. Drifting from side to side. Windows tinted. Drifts close to us. Passes through the slush barrier. Sending the thick water onto our windshield. Blinding us. For a second. I don’t know if the car will continue and plow into us or not. Heart rate jumps. Activate wipers. The car has drifted away. I quickly pass it.

He continues his monologue. I continue my fight against sleep. This snow is beautiful. This snow is exhausting.

When we get home, we play in the yard for a few minutes. Throwing snowballs. He laughs. Finally a proper fall.