An Entire Sky

Sometimes April was nice.  Not too hot, tall white clouds slowly moving in the breeze.  There were six or seven of us who would meet at a chain-link backstop on a rocky field to play baseball.  The area was famous for the bonfire which was lit the day before every Thanksgiving as a burning reminder of how much we all hated the University of Texas.  They’d pull a long flatbed up and the football coach would get up there and start inciting the crowd and introduce football players and they’d talk about how they were going to beat the hell out of Texas and everyone would shout hateful things into the night air. 

That did not include me.  I was passive about the whole thing and eventually, I’d grow to love Texas, particularly the girls in high heels and miniskirts walking across the courtyard in front of the Tower and people would call me a fag and a hippie because my hair was a quarter of an inch over my ears and I’d get in fights with corps of cadet members on campus, but that all came later. 

Right now, I was eight years old.  My white dog with four black paws was named Bo and my backyard gave way to a stand of Oak trees and then down to a creek.  I’d follow the water to endless ground gently rising and in the distance were three grey, rough chain-link backstops waiting to make the game of baseball possible. 

We’d start at 5:00 in the afternoon, but I always went thirty or so minutes early, because I liked to climb up and lay on top of the backstop.  The chain-link was forgiving on top and it would sag into a metal hammock for my kid’s form.  I’d use my glove as a pillow and stare straight up.  There were always little black dots moving across the sky.  They were buzzards or some other kind of bird.  They seemed to be close to outer space and sometimes they would disappear and I assumed they had left Earth’s gravitational pull.

Laying alone on the chain-link gave me the opportunity to daydream about change.  I knew I had to get out of my hometown, the question was how?  Most people don’t realize that some kids start hating a place early on.  It had nothing to do with my family, I loved them more than I could say, but I knew that the town was somehow evil.  Maybe it had to do with the way they treated woman and black people.  There were hardly any foreigners, except for the intermural soccer team, which played near my house.  They mostly were from the Middle East and I’d shag balls for them and they’d yell in foreign languages I could not understand, but they sounded magical like they were speaking in code, constructing reality out of secrets.

In my chain-link dreams I saw myself in Africa or South America.  Pyramids and jungles, animals and barefoot girls.  I’d take my life into my hands and use it, always near a fire and a river.  I’d live with the natives and I’d show them how to wear sun glasses like James Dean.  Too bad about him, the way he died.  Then I’d see the car crash and wonder how he could crack up so bad.  Years later, I found out he had been sexually abused as a kid.  Funny how when we are young, we look at people and we don’t know what we are seeing, but then I began to realize not knowing about people never went away.  People don’t know anything about other people, even after they die, and we go through their personal possessions, trying to figure it all out, but we still come up zero.  Who was my son, my wife, my sister, my best friend and we will never know.  I guess we want to be fooled into believing they are who we want them to be and it can go on like that for years until they kill somebody or end up in jail or dead from an overdose.

So, I’d lay there on those April days before the regular season began, waiting for my friends, watching the pure white clouds drift by like drive-in movie screens.  Nothing whiter than a drive-in movie screen unless it was a cumulous nimbus cloud against a blue sky and I could see everything the world had to offer in those moments, except I couldn’t see the pain.  That was a big thing to leave out and I guess most eight-year-olds make the same mistake and now that I think about it, I suppose that is the main point of getting old, understanding pain and how it comes over us like an entire sky filled with falling bodies on their way to the ground.

8 thoughts on “An Entire Sky

  1. Beautiful Duke. The three points of life – the child with all his dreams, the teenager whose sharp divides are drawn and then the old person realizing that the knowledge of pain is as overwhelming as the entire sky. There’s really no way of knowing another person which is perhaps the cruelest part of the whole experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Isn’t “simple” enough?
    What does knowledge truly give us? Complexity, anxiety and worry about things beyond our control.
    Do dogs worry? The get anxious I suppose, and pine for their human. What does an 8 year old boy have to be anxious about? Striking out? Low-cut blouses? Checkin’ for ticks?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was an oddity. I got kicked out of the Cub Scouts because I wouldn’t say the pledge of allegiance. I threw purple Kool-Aid on the Minister’s kid because he said, I was going to hell for not believing in Jesus. Things like this started happening around the age of seven or so. It only got worse as time went on. Duke

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I truly enjoyed this foray into the musings of an adolescent Duke, the substrate for your unique journey through age. You masterfully imbedded a plethora of meaning in the last line: “I guess that is the main point of getting old, understanding pain and how it comes over us like an entire sky filled with falling bodies on their way to the ground.” I hope our understanding pain provides us a measure of strength to catch some of the falling bodies and clear the sky so we can ponder the ‘cumulous nimbus clouds against a blue sky and see everything the world has to offer in them’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahhh , the good old days of our youth. How sad and incredible that it was just yesterday that we were all young whippersnappers and now that life is a dream within a dream is our new reality . Let’s enjoy what’s left !

    Liked by 1 person

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