the pool house
Slam into focus. I am half floating and half staggering up these two long blocks of concrete sidewalk, and the cops are lurking there at my back. I didnít intend to go outside, but here I am. There is a late September heat wave, sticky and foul, and I really need a cool shower. Anything to wake me up, to make me a bit more alert . I donít remember when my last one was, and I donít know if I want to remember. I look clean enough, from the evidence I saw in the mirror, though I have the impression that Iím needing a shave. Even though I donít recall stubble. My senses seem to be popping in and out of play. I am somewhat disturbed by my complete lack of body odor. It's like I've been sanitized.
We have embarked on a low speed chase, a crawl. The police car, long, black and armored, is lurking only eight feet behind me, and it stays at precisely that distance from the moment the cops start the tail. Iím guessing that they started to roll within seconds from when I exited from my new front door and spilled out onto Mulberry, taking a quick left turn onto Davis.
I wouldnít know about tracking lasers until later, but the first that I started to feel those eyes on my back was Davis Street. I turn with a jerk to suss out the scene Ė I donít know that itís the cops behind me, I just know that thereís someoneís back there. When I turn, the six oíclock sun hits me blind and square, black circles floating in my eyes and I feel hypnotized, light weight drifting. I forget my purpose.
Purpose, maybe not, maybe notÖ but destination, yeah. As my eyes adjust to the sunlight, I see the law just idling there, most natural thing in the world. I canít make out features, but there are two white faces, and they are giving me this little wave that seems in no way appropriate. Itís not friendly, not hostile, just Ďyeah, weíre watching you. And we know that you see us. So? Your move.í I stare back at them for a few seconds, and then give a half-hearted wave of my own, trying to convey Ďokay chumps, I know youíre following me and Iím not intimidatedí. Iím projecting enough presence of mind, I hope, so they donít do a stop for public intoxication. I wish I wasnít carrying this open bottle, but putting it down now would surely be a mistake. And Iím holding, probably, at least a taste. Why wouldnít I be? I mean, Iím just walking up the street, not even sure why Iím doing that.
And so we cruise along, outwardly composed while a blind paranoia is building up behind my eyes. Iím shifting into a state where I feel like taking off and running. My strength is pooling. Itís not that much different from being afraid of the police any other time, just a different sort of neighborhood.
Iím not thinking very clearly. I need a jolt. We come up to the corner of Second Street and Davis, and I decide to take a long deep swig off of my beer. I might as well, since Iím carrying it. I stop to pull a cigarette out of a crumpled pack. Except that the pack isnít crumpled, and itís primo, Marlboro Greens, not my usual generic. Is every dime gone? Drinking Heineken, tooÖ I try to make my movements seem smooth and casual. No hard. The blow is so clean and smooth, Iíve never had anything like it. I have a feeling that Iíve been living off of Marlboro Greens and Heineken for most of this week.
I shelter the smoke with my hand, even though there isnít so much as a breeze. Itís to send a message Ė ĎIím steady. Iím coolí. In truth, Iím buying calm with every pause. I figure maybe the cops will keep on driving at this point, but they just pause and wave. When I was young they called that the Corvette wave. Nothing too involved.
It looks like itís up to me to make the move. Iím off, quickening my pace, staying safely inside the pedestrian walking stripes, my arms starting to spread for extra balance. I am prepared to run with posture to fly, and I visualize myself leaping over small objects, mentally readying myself for the strong possibility that my patrol car may soonÖ
Öthat my car may soon take a left onto Second, and slowly fade down the street. The lady cop Ė I can determine her sex with the change of the angle Ė is impassively leaning out of the passenger window, the top two buttons of her uniform undone. She is wearing sunglasses. The off duty light is switched on just before they disappear from sight.
I slow myself down, confused. This is one hell of a long block, and I canít honestly say that I recognize it, even though I know that I bought something here since last I slept. It would be fair to say that I wouldnít recognize my own home at this point, but it is new, and I havenít been through the entire place, and I havenít even had an opportunity to form a clear picture of it in my mind. I memorize the address, even though there are no cabs. 15203 Mulberry, the odd side of the street. Itís all alien territory, all different to me. The smooth concrete has gotten progressively rougher, and the little island of grass between the sidewalk and the street has disappeared.
I have only been here in these parts for a few days and they seem to let me do whatever I want. I won. What should I recognize? I know my address. I know that less than two lengthy blocks stand between where I departed and where I stand now, but it seems like a significant distance. The houses are much smaller here, older by years, but they are still single stand-alone structures, something no one that I know can claim to own.
I am looking at the pool house. I had forgotten what it looked like. I snub my smoke and smoke again. Itís been hours. The smoke is cool, it should be hot outside but now itís cool. I am blessed. The pool house I remember is from a fairy tale. It is a structure of whitewashed concrete blocks, set at top with points of light. Opaque glass brick take the outer wall from seven feet to ten, and then the slant of a red slate roof. This is mine. I bought it cash. I need to own it.
The house is set back at a 45 degree angle from the street, twenty yards of ragged grass and needles from the pine. The yard is vast, nearly a quarter acre. The slant backs up to 3 Street. I have a bracket two blocks long, a swath between the worlds, and words unspoken seep out of my lips, I tend to mumble. I own a bracket two blocks long. Not the center, just the crust.
The pool house. It will be in capitals. The Pool House. It will be home.
© 2004, Mark Hoback