Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 29.6 (Cormac McCarthy)

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
McCarthy, Cormac

Loaned to me by M. Never returned.

So, we've come to the end of our tale. I must have seen M. a few more times than I have recalled in the last few entries. I have a clear memory that he loaned me Blood Meridian and that I returned it and that he then loaned me Suttree, which I still possess. I only read part of it. The only thing I recall is something about a guy sneaking into a watermelon patch to have intimate relations with the fruits.

My last memory of visiting with M. was just after he'd bought his first house. His daughter was three or four and they had a baby and maybe a third on the way. I was single, lonely, living in Manhattan, working the odd temp job to get by. Our lives really couldn't have been more different. He took me down to the basement of the house and showed me the boiler he'd just replaced, then explained about some trenching they were having dug around the perimeter in order to keep the moisture out.

At some point I think he saw my eyes glazing over and suggested we go upstairs. We sat in his dining room talking about books. He told me somewhat ruefully that he didn't have as much time to read them. There was a palpable silence between words as we talked. I remember him walking me out to my car in the street and giving me a hug. I said I'd call him next time I was in town.

This must have been sometime around 1996. My father died that year and my mother sold the house and moved to Florida, which effectively cut off my connection to the DC area. I've only returned five or six times since, for weddings and funerals and for one poetry reading I gave at the DC Arts Center. I've never bothered calling M.

Having been writing about him the last few days, I decided to take a peek to see if he was on Facebook. He is, of course. Still married. Has three teen and tween daughters. His profile says he works for an investment fund focused on clean energy. In the photos posted there he looks about the same, maybe a little older, seems to have kept the pounds off, has a satisfied smile on his face.

The temptation to "friend" him came and went pretty quickly.

from Suttree

Dear friend now in the dusty cockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in the sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no souls shall walk save you.

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