Edition 29: Wind and Rain…and Umbrellas by Joe S Pulver Snr
A few minutes of rain. Downward, a heavy punch that won’t last long. It bends you by degrees. After a quarter of an hour where it seems the rain may have exhausted itself, conditions are suddenly, once again, infiltrated by horrible and the rain continues its composition. Your behavior, how you put together your motives, wishes it were out in the country, or you were inside, somewhere dry and lacking this forecast of tears.
Forced by a solution she couldn’t paint, Claire—rushing from her spinster-packed dollhouse—set to sea. Claire sudden, work (the firmament of the loom, her attachment to DUTY) waiting to consume, out of time under a mast with no swerve immune from risk, and no easy. Wind—happening—difficult, exhausting—andherumbrellaisgoneintomisfortune. Claire’s future (short on clarity) does not see the automobile, sudden, chasing work.
Dead skunks (and other wilder fare) glare on backcountryroads…town and country no one writes songs to what’s chopped down.
2nd umbrella (group):
of teenagers. Came from— Done it—
tics and furiously, hard pharaoh’s breath passed between them, pack and bottle snapping crime. woman coming out of a corner bar, one step (over a puddle), another (hoping to make it across the river-skinned street), another—arms rowing, quicker (spinning with all dry could bring) and quicker (hoping to set foot on a continent with a tongue of its own). splash and decibels of RAIN clash with what her foot doesn’t see.
the woman fears robbery, or rape. can smell it happened. happening. interrupting…
the wind, a gust 59 M.P.H., rips her umbrella from her grasp. as she turns to view the crime it’s a half a block away.
the teens rush passed. laugh (in tones learned from the laws of the sun). bet on who will claim the prize.
Passage under streetlamps.
Holes in it. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
___________________________Drip. His hair and brow are soaked. Wondering when the hell the dog is going to go, so they can return to a dry towel and hot coffee.
He’ll promise he’s replacing this umbrella ASAP.
_________________________________________But he’ll forget, again.
Classic cane. Black. Designed by M. Vitous of Ostrava. Coverage arc diameter: 50 inches. Closed length: 35 inches. Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz. 190-thread count microweave fabric, waterfall dome-shaped canopy. There is no punishment to it, it fits the hand well.
Graveside tears. Miss Alicia Graves has been crying for days. Alberto Alamo was a good lover, he could also cook (many dishes, masterfully) and was quiet, not to mention very polite in affable ways. In the nine months they were together he was never drunk, or sick, and his footsteps took up no room in her mirror. She will cry for many more days.
Shr e d _din g, no protocol. By
the donut shop. By the tinker.
There. Hits. Continues. ______Pushing
______from its location.
no shadow no
portion and decipher in its step. Not
out for a walk—
it and tie it
the fire-hydrant outside Kim’s Video while you dash in to grab a copy of Last Year at Marienbad for Leonard’s 40th,
the Yes or No smudges of your crayons do not
Not interested in solving mysteries, or the clumps of your lines, written out, punctuated with your weekday forms—roped together with scraps of knottedbabbling and wet with quick.
in Moshe’s for a Ruben
side after a boho reading of Celan and Trakl (“And finally…here’s a few of my own.”) by a Martian Ferlinghetti-type (with both eyes on the redheaded documentarian in the little black Chanel, who swears she’s close pals with Tilda Swinton), bubbling with the chemistry of his own talismanic.
goes . . .
6th, 7th, 8th umbrella:
Loneliness and guilt, playing the Elvis Costello he never plays when other people are around.
Drank for two hours…turned the lights of his escapades off. He took the pills; slit his wrists the proper way. Closed his eyes, hoping to forget the protocols of ugliness. “Let the lying, carnivorous stars hunt someone else.”
11 mourners. All uniformly dressed in black (every gesture and shadow of appetite bared). 3 appear headless (somehow fitting) under their black umbrellas. 2 wear corpse paint, 3 had applied zombie makeup. 6 shed tears. They’ll drink what the deceased liked to drink—some will gulp it down. Their lips will embrace the fire of laughter during Princess Nikki Noir vs. the Horrors of the Top Secret Goblin Unit of B.O.O.B.S (the deceased’s favorite softcore/horror comedy), and over pizza, salty snacks, and beer, they’ll watch several more horror films in his honor. One, skeletal Count Sadus, will bitch about the “cool shit” in his apartment and how it will be lost when his parents and/or older sister clean it out; “Fuck, he had copies of Goulston Street and Begotten on DVD. They go for big bucks on EBay—even clean, used copies are 3-400 each”. There will be no talk of mutations, or the cosmos itself. No one will remember the raindrops falling upon the casket, or the fragrance of black within it.
Day after tomorrow Alicia Graves will hear of her cousin’s self-inflicted departure. She, under her black umbrella, will return to the graveyard and shed more gravesidetears. She will then return home to her small, 2nd floor apartment above the streetcorner girls and clamped in despair, loneliness, and familial guilt, drink.
Danny’s was red. No stripes. He does not like stripes, does not like his sister either. Danny only took the red umbrella from the umbrella stand as it was his sister’s, and today, with all this wind, he wondered if he could fly it on the end of his kite string.
Danny giggled and quickly agreed when the weatherwoman who brings the wind swooped down from the chimneys and asked to borrow the kite. Danny thinks the weatherwoman who brings the wind is more beautiful than the ladies on TV that Dad says are hot. One day he’s going to ask her why she never wears shoes.
Passage under streetlamps. Grey interrupted by the memory of her face that night…her lost face. Lost home. Lost soul. No open clearing of forget in this vampiric aftermath of guilt and failed. No boat to row merrily
Some immeasurable duration in it. “Fuck.” If he were a seaman or a whaler or a surfer, or if he sought cause and form and the transcendental limitlessness of the sea, like Niels and his diligent circle of seafarers, perhaps he wouldn’t mind the pounding wet. “Fuck.” He fears drowning before his bus arrives.
The legion breath of The Outside World, with its LIFE and hours and its wild untranslated possible pointing out (confident, comfirming) beauty and passions (both gradual and FAST to reveal their blooms) in every direction is not allowed here.
He never stands at the window when the lips and fingernails of the sun seek to wed seed, but when the panes of glass carry the erasing eagerness of a storm he’s drawn to it.
The small black and white television, new when This is Tom Jones had its debut on ABC in 1969, is never off in his flat. The volume is never more than a fading whisper in the room of constant, winged-streams of pipe tobacco smoke. The poignancy of music is never allowed here. Since the moment he stepped into this room on October 17, 1969 there has never been a beautiful young woman with violet eyes in this room, not a kiss, no duet ending in reaching.
Very little mail comes into his pristine flat.
He has no cat or dog or bird, never has. He has over 5,000 books on history, yet not a one has local history as its subject matter. Books where words move forward with their come on and toward unfurled are not allowed to bend his calendar.
Planning a spring wedding, she had furnished this apartment for them as Khe Sanh was embraced, mortar for mortar, tactical bullshit for meat, worst for worst, by the hawks of Tet, and he (just another drafted-grunt sick of the hard-stripe E5’s and KABOOM-KABOOM-KABOOM negation that put kids—or their parts—on stretchers or in bags) prayed and begged and pleaded with The Almighty to make it home. She hung the curtains, picked out the sofa.
Painted. Dusted. To deny him worries, arranged the just so.
He came back to the shapes and circulations of The World (Mainstreet, Paradise), to his letters to her (she had saved every one) and cut short. One evening shortly after returning from The Nam he opened a drawer in the bedroom dresser and took out a lace nighty she had bought for their planned honeymoon. He sat on the bed with it one hand, her picture in the other, he cried. In the wee small hours, he folded it exactly as it she had and placed it back in the drawer with his love letters to her. He has never opened the drawer a second time.
Stateside, just a few days and a few hours into his readjustment. He was flying over Cincinnati on his way home to Schenectady, New York and his bride-to-be. She had just put a pumpkin pie, his favorite, in the oven when the aneurism ruptured. She, (sometimes a white ship in the room he cannot touch), had turned 21 three days before.
It poured on the day of her funeral. He did not attend. He stood at the window. Gulping, trembling, bitter and unable to make a sound, he noted the thoroughly ancient #8 bus that ran along Uphill River Road and stopped at the corner below his window every 30 minutes. No one got on. No one got off.
Marilyn (sans the momentary cure of last night’s waltz). Marilyn (not near the old neighborhood—but she was last Saturday night)…wants to be over the bridge. Marilyn never likes it when the sky cries. Marilyn (5’ 8”, slender, shaking, exposed) has stood on this exact spot by the river many times (the last time was last Saturday night)…most often at the end of the day. She has never enjoyed what it radiates.
No kiss of the ordinary world. No moonsong, no for the road, or if I could . . . No use…no use
No poignant “Last Dance” piano music.
She remembers him, young then. After lunch, watching him—his head down as if to impart a kiss, his fingers pleasing the colors of two together, listening to his enthusiasms produce the nocturnes on the piano on the stage in the high school auditorium. Her temperature up, her heart in a delirium of splendors. She can still taste the hollow prophecies…
Marilyn throws her umbrella ($139. Designed by M. Vitous of Ostrava.) into the rushing water
The weatherwoman who brings the wind (and controls precipitation intensity and lightning and squall lines, pressure patterns, and where lows sail and clear) sits (above luck and elves, misfortune and the rustlings of determined) on a water-damaged chimney that has never been topped by the nest of a stork. Her icy fingers hold an item borrowed. It’s been a chilly, sodden week and her feet are sore and she’s sick of the smell of saturated streets. The weatherwoman who brings the wind has splashed and splashed and capsized pips and captains, and the self-abridged, she’s missing the altar-glow of the sun and the warm dance of her silhouette. Thoughts of the beach warming her, she allows the young boy’s umbrella-kite to shove off. Tapped and blown-back and tossed, its voyage delights her.
“Yes, Kylo’s for dinner next week. I have to.” As an appetizer, I’ll have the pan-fried oysters… and I’ll have the Cajun halibut with prawns. Asparagus please. And I’ll have a dirty martini.
She’ll be done with today, the holes/the shades/every hand (tranquility stressed from it) it grounded, and home in a few hours.
Rush hour: Union Square
Rain, gaining in force. Downward, a heavy punch with no holes in it, no matter how hard you try to find one. Surrounded by water not even half of the people in Union Square have umbrellas. Fourteen wish they did. Seven wish theirs had not broken in this torrent.
The weatherwoman on Channel 10 will not quote Anne Sexton, or Plath, or Delmore Schwartz, as her manicured-finger presses the button to change the projections behind her. What she does, matter-of-factly, is promise tomorrow’s forecast is “as full of greyness and rain as today”.
Done with ‘bleary windows’, ‘grey hollows’, and ‘deadened air’, at the end of her day she never listens to the shipwreck of mordant complaint nosily snapping from the radio on the drive home. Without coming upon a single distraction, by 1 a.m. she’ll have traveled from the television station to her residence in the thick pine forest that borders the far side of the city. Zephyr-soft and gust-quick she’ll slip out of her business-wear and into a short, blacksilk kimono robe. As she reclines with an extra-dry martini in her easy chair, her retainer, a small bespectacled creature with long thin fingers, will kneel, and with great tenderness scented with illusions, massage her feet. With her fancies purring, she’ll begin planning the meteorological situations her viewers will encounter next week.
Never comes to light
The Traitor /The Great Lover
Only Lovers Left Alive
Some Like It Hot
Sighing in agony
Jack the Ripper
(after hearing Charlie Haden has passed)
(Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny “The Moon Song”; Weather Report “Umbrellas”)
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (born Schenectady, New York) is an author and poet, much of whose work falls within the horror fiction, noir fiction / hardboiled, and dark fantasy genres. He lives in Germany.
Pulver started his publishing career in the early 1990s with a number of short stories published in various American small press magazines, foremost among them Robert M. Price’s Crypt of Cthulhu. His tales cover subjects ranging from Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and Robert W. Chambers’ King in Yellow.
Pulver’s professional debut came with the publication of his Lovecraftian novel, Nightmare’s Disciple. In addition to various American small press magazines, Pulver’s work has been featured in numerous anthologies in the US, UK, France, and Japan.
Pulver has also been the editor of Midnight Shambler, Tales of Lovecraftian Horror and The Madness of Dr. Caligari. He was also the co-editor for Crypt of Cthulhu, published by Mythos Books LLC working alongside Robert M. Price, Michael Cisco and David Wynn.
Find out more about his work and presence online at his webpage.
Joseph has published with SQ Mag before: Edition 26: A Nightingale’s View of Autumn.