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The Professional Fool

Posted: 01 Dec 2022, 19:07
by admin
I got out and put the hood up, bracing it open with the long metal rod on one side.The Purdy Spit separated two dark bodies of water.The high winter tides had left a tangle of seaweed and driftwood on the sand that was black in the night.I undid the plastic safety belt of Thomas’s car seat, bundled him up inside a large blanket, and carried him in my arms down to the beach.Denise found a smooth log for us.Surely someone would happen by.Sitting there in the quiet, we watched the water become black glass, utterly still.It was the slack tide when all the salt water that had rushed in from the Pacific Ocean through the Strait of Juan de Fuca swelled the Salish Sea to its highest mark and held itself there, as if basking in a moment of triumph before Sun and Moon drew it back to the ocean.The dark clouds had thinned enough to show the stars.Orion was suspended low in the sky as if frozen in ice.Had Betelgeuse already blown up?Was this the last light from a star that no longer existed?I looked down at the salt water and studied the shining stars quivering on the surface above the unseen kelp.It was similar to the experience in the amphitheater.The stars flickered below me in the Salish Sea.They twinkled above me in the night sky.They dwelt inside me in the watery world of awareness.As I stared down at them, the stars moved with the tiniest ripple, perhaps from an unfelt breeze, or from the flow of electricity in my nervous system.I felt I could stay on this spit forever.I had wanted to be a professor of mathematics and to discover the synthesis between general relativity and quantum field theory.Had I given that up for something so flimsy as an experience?There is no way I could have done this without you, I said.I’ve put you through so much.You deserve better and I’ll get there, I promise you. Denise leaned her cheek on the top of Thomas’s head and smiled.Your dad is so worried.I’ve never seen him cry.He had such high hopes, I said.I know I’ve disappointed him deeply.It’s more like you’re following in his footsteps.He left Fountain as a teenager to join the marines and fight in a war.Rocking him gently back and forth, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.The cold was penetrating our clothing and I knew it was time to go back and wait in our wreck, but when I offered to take our son, Denise held him close.Dad always insisted on them.In all the years of our childhood, we had never once had an occasion to use the flares on any of our family car trips.Once I pleaded with him to start one just so I could see it in action, which he did for me in our garage at Leona Way, scraping the end of the cylinder on the concrete floor to ignite it.Completely disappointing.I had assumed it was going to be something like a Roman candle that would light up the sky, not a tiny sparkle at the end of the red stick.It took a minute to catch fire.The flame was barely intense enough.We huddled under my fireman’s coat with the mist blowing in from the Pacific Ocean and the cloud cover spreading apart to reveal a clear night sky.She fell asleep in my arms, still holding Thomas Ian in hers.Without her strong presence, my anxieties came crawling back.She had been ecstatic when the letter came from the University of Puget Sound.She would be able to return to the Seattle area where she had grown up.She could be near her parents and her siblings and friends.Our sons could grow up with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.I had thrown that away.I had made so many mistakes.Was this another one?