tell me you cant relate to this song…
I take a drink
to rinse away the madness
she takes one too
to rinse away the sadness
and to fuel the fire burning in her mind
and we sit in the silence
choking back apologies
a futile effort to win the fight
that we forgot who started
Lost in a haze
of early morning mist
cheap wine, and cocaine
One more swallow
this time to kill my pride
and I kiss her sore red eyes
They found a body in the river
A distant friend
We lit candles
Beneath the moon
On a levee holding back the Sacramento
We stood in duck and dog shit
In long solemn silence
People cried and hugged
When I die
Take me to the desert
Douse me in gasoline
And Burn my body
Like a candle
Beneath the moon
Love this song.
Atlas Quiggly walked towards his home, along the dark streets of Sacramento, stumbling drunkenly as he tried to light his cigarettes. He passed the old Victorian style homes with raised front porches and steps that lead up to them. He stopped in front of one that he had past many times since he had lived in Sacramento, but had never particularly caught his attention. It was a light blue house with ornate trim around the elevated porch. He walked to the top of the stairs and sat on the top step smoking his cigarette.
The door opened and shut quietly, Atlas heard it, but he did not turn to see who had come through it. When he looked up he saw the large pair of eyes that were the color of the clear night with stars of youth reflecting out of them. The eyes belonged to a girl, who could not have been older than seventeen, and when Atlas Quiggly looked at her she smiled and took the cigarette from his hand and took a long drag and held it like an embrace from loved one that she hadn’t seen in years.
Atlas Quiggly lit another one and looked back towards the street, and she sat down beside him and crossed her legs, swinging her bare foot back and forth. They finished the cigarettes without saying a word. When they finished the girl rested her head on Atlas Quiggly’s shoulder, “why are you out here?” she asked. Her voice was smooth and cool and sound much too strong for a girl of her apparent age. “I don’t know, I just felt like sitting” Atlas said in response.
“It’s quite late, shouldn’t you be sleeping?” Atlas asked.
“I don’t sleep much lately” said the girl. Her head was still on Atlas Quiggly’s shoulder and as she spoke she wrapped her arms around the one arm that Atlas was resting on his knee. “What is your name?” she asked.
“Atlas Quiggly” He responded.
“I know who you are,” she said “you are the architect who is going to build that new building in Oakland for father.”
“For Father?” Atlas Quiggly asked, his voice muffled by the fresh cigarette hanging between his lips.
“Aren’t you going to ask me my name?” asked the girl. Atlas smiled, as he lit the cigarette.
“I hadn’t planned on it.” He said.
“Well, I will tell you anyway. My name is Hannah.” She said “My father is Randall Roberts.” Atlas turned and looked at the top of the girls head. “Really?” He looked back towards the dark street and leaned his head over resting it on top of Hannah’s. Atlas pulled a cigarette from the pack in his breast pocket, and offered it to Hannah. “No, thank you” she said politely, her head still resting on Atlas’ shoulder. “I quit smoking.”
“Oh really? When?” Asked Atlas.
“Just this very second”
“Was you mothers name Rose?” Asked Atlas
“In fact it is. How did you know that?” asked Hannah.
“I met your mother last week while I was in Oakland meeting with your father about his new building.” He said, as he released a plume of smoke into the air and watched as is floated up towards the night sky, dancing across the stars.
“Oh, really?” she said with absolutely no change in the sound of her voice that could be interpreted as wonder, or excitement. “I haven’t seen my mother in a long time.” Hannah Roberts’ voice was still calm and cool as though the fact that she had not seen her mother in years, let alone that she did not know if she were alive or dead, was just a simple truth.
“Yes, I spent every night last week with her. We would sit on the stoop, where I assume she was living, and she would tell me stories about her life. She even told me about you, and your brothers.” Atlas said.
“I don’t remember much of her, but I do remember how much she loved to talk about herself.” She said.
“Do you miss her at all?” asked Atlas.
“Not really, it’s hard to miss someone you never really got to know. You don’t miss strangers that you see on the buss, do you?” Asked Hannah as she rubbed her head affectionately on Atlas Quiggly’s shoulder.
“Sometimes I do miss strangers that I see on the bus” Atlas responded. “I will even think about them often, and wonder what they are doing. Are they in love? Are they lonely? Do they drink coffee or tea? Have they ever been to my favorite Bar? In fact I think about strangers all the time, and tomorrow when I wake up I will think about you.”
“That’s very sweet of you” Hannah said. “I don’t like very many people, and I don’t care about even more of them” she said “But, I will likely think about you in the morning too”. Atlas smiled at this and took one last long drag of his cigarette before he threw it down in to the street. “Your Mother is dead.” Atlas told the girl, “she died last night, she was alone, when I found her, on the stoop where I would meet her. I stayed there, with her, all night.” As Atlas spoke tears were forming in his eyes, and rolling down his cheek, but he did not notice that he was crying.
“It was very sweet of you to stay with her” Hannah said, and she kissed the salty trail that Atlas’ tears had left on his face. “Don’t cry” She said. “I’m not sad at all, and I’m very grateful that I got to hear this from you”
“You are too strong for your age” Atlas said as he kissed Hannah’s forehead. “It’s not good for someone so young to be like that; it makes you jaded as you get older”
“I have always been told that I am old for my age. What do they call it? An old soul!” she said, excited that she had remembered the phrase. “That’s what all Father’s friends call me – An old soul.”
Hannah stood up and pulled Atlas up by his hand. Atlas Quiggly stood facing the young girl, the top of her head barely reaching the top of his chest, as a warm almost motherly, smile grew slowly across her face. She reached up and pushed back his wool hat, wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his head down, and kissed him, long and hard. Atlas wrapped his arms around the small of her back, and held her tight against his body.
“I have to go in now, I’m tired.” Hannah whispered, “go on home, everything will be alright, I promise.” She said, kissing him softly one more time before pulling away. Atlas nodded, buttoned his jacket, pulled up his collar and walked back to the street. Hannah stood on the porch and watched him as he walked to the end of the block, the she turned and walked inside.
Atlas walked, and walked, and walked, he had forgotten all about his car which was in the long term parking at the Amtrak station. When he arrived at his home, which was an old split level house of which he and his wife occupied the upper floor, he stood out front looking at the window on the front of the house that faced west, and lead to the bedroom where his wife was asleep, thinking that Atlas was still in Oakland. He finished his cigarette and walked inside.
Atlas Quiggly walked to his liquor cabinet, and opened the 60 year McCallan that he had been given as a gift and was saving for a special occasion, and poured himself a tall drink. He sat in the living room, in the dark, and the quiet, dinking his scotch and watching the door at the end of the hall way that lead to the bedroom. He stood painfully, and walked down the hall towards the bedroom. He stayed in the doorway watching his wife sleep on her side, holding her swollen pregnant belly with one arm, and the other tucked under her head.
It was a cold Sunday morning in November when Atlas Quiggly walked to the night stand on his side of the bed, and pulled the loaded .357 revolver out of the top drawer, and tucked into the back of his pants. His wife stirred, and woke, “You’re home early” she said groggily. “Yes, I love you darling. Go back to sleep, everything will be alright, I promise” he told her as tucked the blankets tight around her, kissed her head and walked out of the room. He walked out the front stoop, sat on the top step, lit a cigarette, and took a long drag. Atlas Quiggly watched as the world was flooded with the rose tinted light of the Sun, and as it crept over his beloved Sierra Nevada Mountains he flicked the cigarette butt to the street, put the barrel of the .357 in his mouth and pulled the trigger.