shelter from the storm


He was an awkward looking man with what looked like a single glob of hair gel extending itself side-to-side across the top of his forehead. His uniform was almost as unkempt as this hair, wrinkled and to my belief, quite dirty. He had trouble located every thing within his office, wheatear it be his notary seal or something as common as a pen. The man seemed to be fidgeting a lot, which in the long run made me nervous. Maybe perhaps he had reason to feel awkward, because everything about the event was awkward. But still I expected something a bit more professional and was mad that this man, placed here in front of us, would be the man over see the signing of legal documents that would end our marriage. All the hope we had in the beginning ending with a pen stroke… overseen, organized, and orchestrated by this man.

There is a dream I have over and over where the wind was picking up and you can feel the boat sway. The combination of wind and waves is so strong that the hull of the boat itself is acting like a giant sail… and finally with one mighty gust and one mighty wave, the boat begins to capsize. Immediately out of some sort of parental instinct I run to my son, although there were handful of children closer to me and a couple of adults. I grab Gavin and I thrust him through the crowd and towards the safety exit, pushing him though the window and onto the topside of the deck. We were so close, so utterly close to the harbor and all we needed was a hundred or so more yards. But we didn’t make it and disaster was upon us. Immediately outside I ordered Gavin to help get the rest of the children through the window. One by one I begin to hand them though. Gavin’s arms were there to receive them.

The last six months have been hell. I had been drinking more than ever, always drinking and my doctor had noticed. I think everyone noticed but they knew better than to say anything about it. Doctors are different, they are emotionless like scientists and my doctor told me that I need to cut back on the booze. He then asked what my “weekly” alcohol consumption was and I answered the question with a “daily” increment. The drinking helps and I know where it was taking me, but I don’t care. I don’t want to say that necessarily need to drink, but rather that it helps. Without it I stay up for hours and hours with the evilness of history punching into my mind. There are other things too like all this fucking hours and hours of just thinking. Just want to shut it off. I never had so many conversations, fake conversations, with myself. First I imagine what she says, then imagine the response. I speak the words right there in my bed with the cars outside humming down the road, a dog, a chicken outside my window like a fever dream. It is horrible. Insomniac, only able to conjure up three hours of sleep when at first I didn’t seem to mind since I was putting it all to a constructive use. Whether it was reading or writing, I was just trying to be positive. But now things have shifted and my mind wants to deal with it, even though I don’t want to deal with it. jus the other day I saw them together, did you know I see them together all the time? And then in my head I see her, I see her out at the Discotheque with her head down into his crotch. I see him taking her home and spending the night and saying “oh baby it is gonna be alright.” I see her at his softball games sitting on the bleachers while he bats… there was roses in her car today, probably roses that he brought for her. And it is there in my mind, always waiting to come back, to surface… there is only so much television I can watch. Only so many books I can read before I stumble upon a thought that reminds me of her. So then there is the drink. And the doctor tells me I need to cut back.

Gavin is out on the deck and he is yanking them out almost as fast as I send them his way. The safety exit is actually and oversized porthole made with thick brass trim… I am moving so quickly as the water rises around me. Everything is slick. Every thing is ruined There is a need for urgency and the lights flicker then short out and we are in darkness and everyone is screaming except for Gavin and I. We are keeping the cool. Every thing revolves around movement if you are moving everything will be alright, and we are moving the bodies as if they are dead cow carcasses. We are dancing with their panicked disbelieve and guiding them towards safety with utter disregard to our own personal health. I rub and jam and break my knuckles against the cold brass porthole as Gavin pulls them from death and delivers them to the topside, delivers them to the storm ahead.

There are many things in the document that I am signing, the lawyer is trying out his fresh out of college terminology, “This document is legally binding.” and I felt like legally binding his head to the fucking table. I didn’t want him to speak and I think he knew it, maybe that was why he was fidgeting so godamn much. I kept reading over everything, but always coming back to the same thing. “So your telling that although I don’t have custody, I have visitation rights which allows me to see him every holiday, including summer break?” and then she says, not the lawyer, “James you can see him when every you want, why would I keep him from you? To have custody you need to be his biological father.” And I don’t know what to think. Everything about her surprises me, yet nothing surprises me if that sounds possible. She is killing me everyday with something new something I thought was incapable of hurt. Something I had already covered when it came to hurt. Like the part where you went home with that one guy. I thought I would be able to walk away from it all unscathed, without injury. I thought I would be free. That is what happens when you get divorced right. You become free. You loose a lot of weight or begin lifting weights and your money is your money and no one else’s so you are able to buy what ever the fuck you want. You begin searching on the Internet for things you want to buy. You look at the new apple I-Macs and you think –“I will buy one of those.” You look at posters and paintings and places to live. You think about buying a plane ticket to Thailand to visit a long lost friend. You think about flying to Mexico or living in Alaska. There is nothing holding you back, but yet there is. What is holding you back?

He gets up and walks out the room and I hope he slips and falls and breaks his neck and this whole bloody mess will be postponed. I hope that she will look up into my eyes and say, “I don’t think this is the best idea, I don’t think this is the right thing to do… I don’t know what I am doing.” But he doesn’t fall and break his neck and she doesn’t turn and look into my eyes to tell me that everything is going to be alright. All these things I want to hear, she never has the words for which is one of the reasons we are here today… I sign the paper and don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

We are on the deck of a boat that is sinking beneath our feet. We know we have to jump, we have to. There is nothing left to do. Strangely the water is warm, almost bath like and we are swimming, and although the waves are big, it is ok to dive down under surface of things and just swim, only coming up long enough to fill our lungs. I look left and right and see that all the people are doing the same. Gavin is with me. He is right next to me and we are swimming together occasionally bobbing up for air and then back down into warmth, back down away from all the wind and the entire storm. Later, when we get to the dock most of us are almost too exhausted to climb the barnacle covered metal ladder that hangs down from the side, but yet we do because it is instinct.

I walk out of the lawyer’s office feeling like white trash, feeling defeated and feeling like 50 percent of married couples in the United States. It is sunny out, almost hot. The birds are jumping from tree to tree. It is spring. And look at my x-wife, and say, “I guess it is ok to call you ‘bitch’ now.” to which she says, “I guess ok to start calling you my first x-husband.” And I give her a courtesy laugh. There are jobs that I have to look for, apartments; I wonder where to go, where to live, what I will do, I can do anything really. And then like that there is switch somewhere in my mind, somewhere in the back of my mind, the place just above my spinal column that has been giving me so much trouble, the place that has required constant self massaging… place that no matter how much I twist my neck, never seems to crack, never seems to release that demon of pressure. From that place there is a switch that is flicked which changes everything about me. I can feel it?

Gavin and I are standing on top of the dock and we are looking over the rest of everything, almost as if perched upon some vantage point. The village and port itself is destroyed. There are cars flipped over and houses battered in. There are boats where yards should be. It’s all a mess. There a people out and about looking at the damage picking over the pieces, inspecting everything. They’re days and weeks and weekends that have been ruined. The clean up will take time, time and money and then more time. I see my dad off on the corner, he is really pissed off. He is yelling at my mother, yelling at the storm, he is yelling at the sun that is now shinning down upon his head. He is super pissed. And I think he is yelling at me, but I can’t hear him from where I am standing, from where Gavin is standing… I reach down and put my arm around Gavin and squeeze him into the fat of my side, he hugs me back and everything is salty.