New Morning, Same Story
Working on something so hard to do in the foul air of laziness. It smells of the barrel of fresh killed dove carcasses on the opening day of season. All the folks come out as genteel though most sure as hell ain’t. They just know how to do it real good so they can get what they want out of folks. Like a damn dove hunt. Just standing around slaughtering birds all fucking day.
I was walking the streets one winter night. I was 24 but I don’t know what day it was. I do know it was cold and dark out. I hadn’t had much too eat in the past week and too much sleep. My mind was driving me crazy and the only escape was in the concrete in front. Many tales have been told of the weird night and many more will come. Something about the drak skies and insane lives that come out under cover inspire us all to wishing we, too, could be a part of it. Even the cruel and grotesque circus of sin that revolves around the diseased clubs and puke stained bars is the romantic’s playground. No one dreams of the nine to five and the daily battle with the alarm clock, they dream of wearing wild costumes and being part of the scene. I watched some of these cats stumble about in every level of intoxication. The drunks are the most annoying but the junkies get you feeling like no place could be more revolting. In those times I amble the streets, I prefer the silance of solidarity to the company the sick creatures make. They speak only of how fucked up life is and I am usually in a state too close to that reality to want someone else’s opinion on it. All I really want is for her gentle caress. A hot meal would be good but kindness is at a premium these days. It seems most have found they can get what they desire through ambitious greed and us givers are used like toilet paper.
Rolls of shit rags is all they see us as and we are the ones that sing the songs they dance to. They come and shake their asses to our blues, read our sad tales, and then treat us like such scum. Selfish pigs think I am talking about them when I say I am so sad and blue. I feel like such drivel is the boredom of nonfiction. We have become boring and so have our memoirs, so I must resort to the lies of a fuller life.
I just looked back at the first bit about dove hunts and it reminded me of a time not so long ago when a young cat I knew realized his father was, like everyone else, a fuck up. Jeremiah Chesterfield was his name. He was a fairly normal lad who led a fairly normal life. He grew up in an unsettled household until he lived in two unhappy houses somewhere near his fifth birthday. Too young to remember the details, he could vaguely recollect a different time before his mother found a worn out apartment on the other side of town.
“I don’t know what to do but I don’t think it’s right to move you away from your father.” She told Jeremiah as they made his new bed with train sheets and a well used stack of blankets.
In her fight through the everyday, she managed to raise a tall son with broad shoulders. He would never know quite how tough it was for her. She took it as her job to shield him from the shit storm so he could live life like the rest of the normal people. He failed his job for he could only succeed at being himself. They did not know better in grade school, hated him for it in High School, and stopped caring by college.
As he grew up, he learned that his father was not always a man of rigorous moral fiber and his mom was justified in some of her irrational decisions. Jeremiah refused to attend to those facts for his Dad was the hero of his world and it takes a lot to take off a hero’s mask.
That was in the early days and our story comes along several years later, but background is an important thing or else these would just be names with no lives and why would you care? With that little bit of information we find ourselves with Jeremiah out on the fields along the West bank of the river.
Not many hours before, he was enjoying merriments with an old friend around a cooker fire. He spent much of the time reminding himself to get some rest since he knew an early morning with his father was confronting him. Whether it was the lies being told, the cold beer, or the warm fire, he could not break himself from the festivities before much of the night had drifted into pleasant memory. As they do, the dreams of the night turned to a difficult morning. Rent was due, his mother needed some money for her light bill and he was stuck at a menial job making just enough to stay broke. “Why do I waste so much damn time doing nothing?” He asked himself as he made the drive to the dove field. “This damn hole can’t be my own doing but no one lends a hand. All I’m supposed to do is go in to the same stupid office every day and change nothinng in the world but make it more of the same....” His pity party usually lasted the first part of the day. As he made the first exit after the old bridge and gone through every reason to detest his lot, wandering through that moldy alley to the open fields of his mind that carried him through life. They looked like the one he was driving along but they weren’t owned by anyone but himself.
His father’s truck was parked under the bridge; he could see his old man sitting on the sit with the door open, a cup of coffee in one hand and a pair of binoculars in the other. Jeremiah remembered the truck like his favorite blanket. Not even the Communist horde could stop them, his Dad was in control and that was all that mattered.
When Jeremiah pulled up beside his father at the designated game killing area the Eastern sky was starting to blister under the new sun. He looked forward to watching the firey orb scorch the heavens of their peaceful evening glow and show to all the dynamic sorrow of the new day.
“This way.” His father directed. His hair was gray but Elijah Chesterfield had the broad shoulders and determined walk of a man that society hangs its hat on. He carried the same shotgun for twenty years. Jeremiah used it once when he was thirteen and ended up staring at the clouds after he pulled the trigger.
The two walked northeast across the faded fall palate field. A friend had told them about the spot near the river where the birds came in and in the first light the rumor spoke of truth as Jeremiah could see fleeting figures sleek in the air overhead. After a few hundred yards they found a small stand of oak trees to hide under and wait. Shooting light would not come for another half hour; even if the hunters knew birds were near, they could not start shooting until they could see them in legal clarity. Jeremiah could find much worse places to wait for the world to turn his way.
Meanwhile, Elijiah was clearing his mind of all worries and honing his senses to the immediate world. Hunting was his release for it closed the door on the past and future in order to place absolute importance on the present.
“Pair, two o’ clock.” Elijiah cooed.
Jeremiah looked to see the two birds flying straight toward them. They twisted around each, dancing in the ethereal fluid overhead. He dropped to one knee, pulled the gun to his shoulder, and made himself a straight line to the place where the bird would be. The boom of the gun was silenced by the sudden fall of the larger of the two birds. He could hear a muffled thump as the body with wings folded in hit the dirt five yards away.
“Good shot. Single, five o’ clock.
For the next hour, a steady stream of birds came through and the son managed to bag six while the father was sitting over a full dozen. Jeremiah had killed eight but he lost two in some bushes in the lowest section of the field. Both times he had not heeded his father’s advice to spot and retrieve a downed bird before firing at another. Their sanded gray backs disappeared into the ground unless one watched them fall and marked the spot within a yard.
“It’s wrong to kill an animal and not get it. Then you just killed it for sport and hunting is something far more than that. It is something you must understand to be a man.” His father had told him on many a drive home from the field, stand, or blind they had used for whatever game it was they were after. Jeremiah understood this but he could not always temper his useful exuberance in the heat of the moment. He tried to explain the problem to his dad but the same answer always followed, “The key to a life of integrity is discipline and the key to discipline is good habits.” He was a man of ritual and habits. Woke up at 4:30 every morning to run the dog 2.5 miles and then read both the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Moniter while eating grapefruit, granola, and washing it down with two cups of strong tea. The rest of his day followed in a similarly productive and effecient manner. Of course, he had a myriad of bad habits but those were not the topic of conversation as he was only trying to tell his boy the means to a decent life.
Jeremiah saw the bad habits. He knew where the rusted and rotted plates were in the armor of discipline the old man surrounded himself in. He once called him on it but his father ended that charge with a sharp tongue lashing.
“Birds, eight o’ clock.”
Jeremiah turned to five birds speeding briskly away while one twirled to the ground, a wing stuck out in a final gesture of hope. It floated down like the seed helicopters he spent a large part of his childhood trying to catch. Chasing down the darting and twisting bits replaced his boredom with an unpredictable chore.
As he watched the flight speed away he watched the one on the right break from the group and make a wide turn, flying along the backdrop of the downtown with it’s various stone and steel icons of work. The lone dove continued sweeping around until it was headed back toward the field.
The bird was moving a little slower, as if it was looking for something. It flew t near where his Dad was bent over picking up he bird he just killed and started to circle clockwise to get a better look. Jeremiah remembered the game manual the state supplied with their licenses. Each page described habits and identification of a different species of game. They also gave interesting facts in a small gray box titled “Interesting Facts”. The one for doves mentioned that they mate for life. A sudden conflagration fueled by frustration and sparked by his father wringing the head off the animal in his hands flared within the young man.
Jeremiah raised his gun, squared up to the world and leaned into the shot. For a few seconds his world narrowed down to everything between him and the sighting bead on the end of the barrel. Anything else he saw was just a part of that process.
“Nice shot. Now go find that bird.” His Dad spoke out, breaking the human silence along the river.
“Sure, you taught.” Jeremiah muttered to himself as he made a beeline the patch of ground beneath where the bird once flew. As he walked up on the animal, he could see that it was still alive. A beady brown eye was staring toward him in shock, the small body was trying to breath and make it through another day.
He walked back to his camo bucket, loaded it with shells, dead birds, his camera, told his Dad “I’ve gotta go,” and made his was toward his truck.