In the habit of sitting up startled at dawn proper, coming off compost dreams of rotted possibility. Will rose and went downstairs and made coffee and plotted. Thickfaced, stumped over his cup as if a deflated organ. Without his daughter’s income he would need money. He could get by but in the old dark of dawn with junebugs careening off the screendoor and Bob Wills on the kitchen radio he knew he would need. He muttered, grew aware of his muttering and stopped. After awhile he muttered some more.
In the afternoon he dressed from his dead father’s closet and went out saying nothing. In the kitchen Emily looked up briefly from the Friday paper at the slap of the screen door and severe steps departing then bent back over the crossword again.
He walked against the grain of east running avenues named after poets, looking down at each intersection into the utter bowl of the town as if from a high final circle, then finally descended Shelley into downtown from out of the sun. In his father’s oxblood loafers he was noted to stumble. At the postoffice he hired a box and gave such a confused account of himself that only the legally curious could care to follow. He then went to the phone booth on the corner of Shelley and Paige and made calls to cities far and near, calls of inquiry and coagulating design and calls of hopeful exploitation and commerce.
He lingered downtown. Childhood streets. Once long ago and it seemed now forever 1938 St Bonaventure North Carolina. Redbrick herringbone streets and huge rusted Pepsi-Cola bottlecap punctuating faded stencil signs over brickedup businesses. Tides of unseen lilac and honeysuckle and gardenia weighed into the valley like depthsonor from dead concerned relations upon holdout poolhalls and saloons still rapt with an unambitious yet thoroughly seedy sort of sin. A woodfloor bar smooth with red evening sun and ancient trampled biles, spews and spillings. Silverback mirrors faded and dull as lead flashing, a view of the old textile mill reduced to a moody gravure through the soapy warped window. Old monkish liquors vaporizing at twice the rate of consumption, sicklysweet phlegms clinging to the punts of antique bottles, corks all but converted to rockcandy. Will Croe in his oldman’s custom doublebreast shooting pool like some ghostly vintage evening personified. A memory replete with appetite, extension shoulders and lapels enough to outmaneuver his better angels. A judgmental memory, drinking beer from filthy keglines, smoking, curdling. Eyeing youth, young trashy women about which clamored the probability if not the actuality of small grubby offspring. Drunken he floated untethered about the room in postures of determination, the waltz of a lunatic with a pointless glory, something about him suggesting survival against hardships or monsters that might never exist.