I’m sitting outside on the patio under a leafy tree at my favorite coffee shop, talking with Alan.
Alan is an architect who has been helping my brother Jim with his restaurant project. Alan has long gray/blonde hair that hangs in a messy horse’s tail down his back. He flicks the hot ash from his Camel cigarette and says, “When Jim was at my house one day, the water in the kitchen faucet turned on by itself and I said, ‘What the heck?’
“Then,” he continues, “awhile later another faucet downstairs turns on and starts a flood and again I said, ‘What the heck? Are there spirits around here trying to tell us something?'”
Alan pauses and sucks his white Camel like a doobie.
“I thought, ‘Does this mean this whole project with Jim’s new restaurant is big money down the drain?'”
“Hmmm,” I say.
Jim and Alan, after a year of trying to get a loan and borrowing money from friends and family to build a new restaurant, have been denied. The banks tease but they just won’t loan. Jim is caught up in the collapse of the economy. He’s now at home with the cotton blankets pulled over his head, in the musky dark and in despair.
Alan breathes some smoke and I breathe some smokey air.
We are both silent. Because of his illness and the economy, my brother Art may lose his jewelry shop which is right next door to the coffee shop and the coffee shop itself is teetering on the edge of extinction.
When I go home, I tell my ex, Bill, about Jim.
Bill says, “Sometimes I wake up in the night and I wonder who I am. I wonder where I am. Am I back in my childhood or am I forward in time somewhere? Am I on another planet? It takes me awhile to remember who I am and what part of my life I’m in. It’s hard to get re-oriented, but once I do, I’m OK.” (more…)