I wait silently behind the door until the pounding stops. The cop shouts, "Mr. Smith, this is Officer Dwight Longwood." He waits. "Your Execution of Eviction notice has been in place for forty-eight hours. Tomorrow morning we will remove you from the premises. At that point, you will be under arrest." His officious tone softens. "It would be best for you to leave of your own accord. There is really no other option."
He sounds like a young guy who has not yet suffered disappointment, a guy who is fortunate enough to have a livelihood that has not been eviscerated by the recession. My deer rifle rests in the corner by the door, loaded. Out the side window I can see that the lilacs in the overgrown yard next door have opened. I cannot see the for sale sign, but I see one farther away, neat and stark in the tangled grass. I go upstairs, watch the cop get into his car, open the window, and inhale the scent of sun-warmed lilacs. I have nothing against him. I think half the lawns in the development have gone to meadow. On this sunny cloudy afternoon, I like the way the tall grass and early flowers sway, like something from a time before lawns, when people homesteaded here.
Back downstairs, I see that a young buck, naked of antlers of course, is poking in the apple tree, hunting for wizened fruit. He's just doing his job. He finds an apple and plucks it delicately. For once I have the time to pay attention.
When my wife calls in the evening, I say, "Do you remember the day a bear rolled around under the apple tree, eating fermenting fruit?"
"I think he got drunk," Maggie says. Besides the phone, she keeps the electricity turned on, although I don't use it. I move around the house like a wraith or a ghost, seeing but never seen. I say, "When the bear left, the cat rolled around in the crushed grass. Melissy kept asking, 'Does Pussy like the bear?'"
Maggie says, "Come join us at Mom's house, Curtis. We will have many more days like that."
I've tried to explain why I can't leave the house, the yard, the apple tree. I look at the pile of bills and offers by the mail slot. I pick them up and put them on the sideboard, like always. I know more now than I ever wanted to know about upside down mortgages and the process of foreclosure.
Maggie says I should just leave. She says, "We bought that house, we can buy another. We need to let go of this and regroup together. Come to Pennsylvania."
I keep thinking about the meadows and streams of my childhood, the forest and my parent's clapboard house. They have nothing to do with this, right? I remember taking native brook trout off my line and letting them go, keeping just the stocked rainbows to pan fry. They are delicious, but nothing like the pink flesh of a wild brookie.
While I talk to Maggie, wind riffles the apple tree and the swing on the swing set squeaks. I don't tell her about the cop.
Later, I light candles and eat a sandwich in the dining room, as if I'm having a romantic evening with the house. Bourbon, or no bourbon? I decide I don't want anyone to think I did whatever I am going to do because I was drunk.
I wake at dawn to mist. Out the upstairs bedroom window, the yard disappears into smooth silver light, as if the house sits at the edge of the map where the known world pours off into monsters and visions. As I brew coffee, the buck returns to the apple tree. Does he hope that more apples might have appeared from the magic apple place during the night? How long does night last, for a buck? I watch him and I think that maybe I should shoot him, load him into my trunk, and drive to Pennsylvania. At least I would provide meat for my family. At least then I would have done something. I go to the front hall for my rifle.
BIO: Due to the need to make a living and a serious addiction to back country skiing, this writer, aka Peer, lives in a state of vagabondage between NYC, SLC, Pine Hill NY, and Torrey, UT.