Thursday, February 19, 2009

on the "angry list" again...

"Late winter in the midwest has a way of sitting on you like a pile of grandparents."
-Doris #12

Monday, February 16, 2009

Police: Powder that led to evacuation was pudding

EAGLE, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say the mysterious white powder that prompted evacuations at the Eagle County sheriff's office last month has been identified as instant pudding. The powder, a parking ticket and a $35 money order were in an envelope that was mailed to the sheriff's office Jan. 13.

The incident prompted an evacuation, and two employees who came into contact with the substance were quarantined until a hazmat team determined the material wasn't toxic.

A report by the Eagle Police Department says infrared sensor equipment was used to identify the substance as Jello-brand instant vanilla pudding.

Police say the Colorado Springs man whose name was on the ticket has been on vacation and officers were only recently able to interview him. They say he had no explanation for the incident, other than to say he is "not a clean person" and that he probably picked up the powder while paying bills on his messy kitchen table.

The agencies involved have concluded there is no reason to continue the investigation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

how many miles

In my tremulous fear of what was next I couldn't help but note the details, like a crime scene before the crime. The table was brown, the sort of pattern meant to mask crumbs and grease marks and spilled malt. My sunglasses lay next to my left hand; I kept touching them obsessively, afraid I would forget them, that I would have to face the long walk back to my truck, tears streaming down my face, without the not-quite-bulletproof glass to shield me. Below us, a hundred people milled, waiting for a hundred more to step out of the gates, faces shining, recognition beaming, excitement palpable and smelling like vanilla and fried chinese. A hundred hugs below us, right now. A hundred welcomes, hand-lettered signs, suitcases taken from hands like it was a privilege to bear them for the returned, the prodigal sons. Voices raised in tones of delight, unheard sighs drifting up to the skylights as lovers reuinited.

I didn't want to look at his face, because he was already gone. A year is a long time, and with him, there was always the chance it could turn into forever. I wondered if the brown pattern on the table would hide the bloody viscera dripping off my heart as it lay there between us.

A hundred, hundred hellos. Just one goodbye.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Neighborhood Watch

There's a lady and a dog-- they look a little stressed. Maybe hassled. She is not bundled against the cold as well as she should be. Her dog does not stop-- he hurries to keep up with her.

Parked in front of me, a woman searches through her car, leaving no cushion unturned. She wears a yellow coat over a purple outfit. Does she want attention? What is she missing? An earring? Money? Or is her frantic search a metaphor for something else?

Mom in her new white station wagon yawns. Do you think the kids kept her up last night? Is she sick of it all? Is she picking them up now? Is she running away? Her hair is a mess.

The frantic searcher decides she can spare no further moment searching, or finds what she's looking for. Either way, she doesn't look terribly happy. She runs away, her bag bouncing and purple heels clicking. I can understand that. We've all got a long way to run.

A man in a truck talks on a cell phone, stone-faced. His truck says Midwest Garage Door Repair. He slams on the brakes as both he and a semi try to turn into the same driveway. I wonder if he swears. I wonder if he's thinking his whole day has been like this.

The lady and the dog are back. Her cheeks are red, and she still yanks him along. No potty breaks, they're on a mission. Time takes precedence over nature.

Another man on a cell phone gestures wildly at the red light. He forgets to signal. Maybe he's talking to the garage door repairman. Maybe he doesn't know how to get to his final destination.

A cop waits patiently at the intersection. He pretends to ignore me, as all cops do. He speeds away with a trademarked impassive face they teach in police school. He knows he has less purpose in life than I.

Two girls in a new car chatter. One searches her purse while the other flips radio stations. One has unnaturally blonde streaks in her dark hair. She probably thinks it looks pretty. They look like every other teenage girl I've ever seen.

There is a mailman across the street. He is intent on his purpose. He is short. There's a box in his bag. Maybe it contains jell-o molds, or a bomb. Maybe there's lingerie beneath the 'discreet brown packaging' the company promised. Maybe it's the contents of a dead grandmother's purse. He doesn't seem to care. He's forgotten it's there, intent on fitting the newspaper through the hole in the door. I wonder if, while on vacation, he habitually checks doors for the size of their mail slots.

A man in a white Pontiac drives by too quickly for me to tell whether he's laughing or crying. Does it matter? The two are so closely related. Both cause a reaction in people around. Is that why he does it in his car? To escape a reaction?

An old man with a handicapped sticker in his window watches a windborne leaf dance through the intersection. Both are slow and solemn. I wonder if he is sad in his old age. I wonder what he cares about now.

A man puts his arm across the seat back next to him, as though expecting someone to be there. As he turns the corner, he glances at the seat and withdraws his arm.

A truck driver from the Beverage Services Corp. turns on his four-ways, as though that makes up for the fact that his truck is blocking traffic. He drinks his soda as though it gives him the courage to face life, and gets out.

An old woman with heavily teased hair in a brand-new turquoise truck narrowly averts a collision with a tiny silver car carrying a big dog. Had the semi been a foot to the right, there would've been a crash. A foot to the left would've saved both drivers some heartbeats.

There's a guy with a pink van. I wonder why he chose pink? Or is it a company truck? All he can afford? Has he the extraordinary ability to look past physical appearances?

The mailman is on my side of the street. He passes me. He smiles too late, but it's okay since he was probably thinking about mail slots. He hasn't got a box anymore.

A pretty, disheveled blonde talks to her two dogs in the back. She is smiling and laughing, and they are too. She sees me, laughs at herself, and smiles at me. She is the first happy person I've seen.

Behind her, two young men in a little car stuff whole powdered doughnuts in their mouths, and talk about the mound of stuff in the back. I wonder if their whole college life is like that-- stuffing whole powdered doughnuts in their mouths. Will they, at 37, 42, 55, be sitting behind a desk, or in the break room of a factory, stuffing whole powdered doughnuts in their mouths?

Or perhaps I judge wrongly. Perhaps the doughnut stuffing will discreetly occur in the halls of the Supreme Court or the neurosurgery ward. Maybe they'll end up on tv endorsing powdered doughnuts and demonstrating how to stuff them whole into one's mouth.

A loud, rusted-out Ford stops at the light. Mom and son don't look like they fit in around here. She has a cigarette barely clinging to her lower lip, and he desperately needs to wash his hair, by society's standards. I wonder what brings them to the city.

A Japanese trio in a Japanese car pull up closely behind, hugging the right curb. Mama gestures excitedly, her mouth moving like those wind-up chattering teeth. She wants papa to pull up next to the Ford. He manuevers the whell and chatters back, sure he cannot fit. Her spasmodic motions cause him to reconsider, and he squeezes in next to the truck. Boy sits in the back, around 14. His hair is perfect. I wonder if he blinks.

The man from the Beverage Services Corp. gets back in his truck and grabs for his seemingly life-sustaining pop. I wonder if, as he pulls out at an oncoming car, it is bad driver juice. Maybe, like pop rocks, he is explosive when mixed with soda.

I am hungry, so I pull out a sandwich. A man with dyed-blonde tips to his hair looks at my meal, then at his watch. Not time yet, he must be thinking. Too bad his tummy can't keep time.

A woman passes, carrying a violin. She does not hold it fondly. I wonder if she loves what she does. I look at three frowns framed in three driver's door windows, and wonder if anyone does.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"'But man is not made for defeat,' he said. 'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.'"
-Old Man and the Sea

Lack of compass points

"I am glad that I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?"
-Aldo Leopold