He remembered the tree from when it was alive, two branching trunks – perfect for climbing! Shade in summer and stark angles against a winter sky. Pink cotton-ball flowers like fourth of July sparklers. Climbing to the top, tree swaying in the wind. Strong trunks and branches which never broke no matter how carelessly he climbed.
He remembered the day he’d come home from college to find nothing but a stump. She’d hated the tree when he climbed to the tippy-top though he’d never been hurt beyond skinned knees and elbows.
“No, it will be the perfect van for going cross country.”
“I’m not going anywhere in that.”
“Just wait, you’ll see.”
“I see a deathtrap.”
“Think of it with a whole new interior.”
“Think positive for a moment.”
“Still a deathtrap.”
Six months later, Cassy sat on the hood, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean after driving alone from Richmond, Virginia to California. She raised her glass, tapped it against the hood and said, “Here’s to a perfect friendship.”
“They must have been hoping for a better life,” Rodger said, “but most of them didn’t get it.” That is why he’d become a lawyer, after all, to help the huddled masses, but he’d quickly become disillusioned. How did you help people who didn’t help themselves?
He looked over the water at Lady Liberty. Maybe he needed this view to remind him why he had gone to law school. Maybe the Lady needed to remind him of what she stood for:
She wound her way through the foreignness in her own backyard, smiling shyly at the vendors hawking their wares. The mix of languages floated through the air like exotic birdsong, falling around her like rain. Stopping beside a metal gate, she hesitated, looking around, then stepped inside, hurrying down the concrete stairs. Inside the dim restaurant below, she shook her head at the waiters, making her way back, through the kitchen, and out the back door. Putting in earbuds, she listened to the news of the assassination. No one would find her here.
The marshmallow lights stretched across the field like a string of aliens making for the border. Next thing you knew, they’d be asking for asylum because their Moon Gorky was being mean to them. Well, damn it, as far as he was concerned those aliens could just go back to where they came from.
The touch on his shoulder pulled Jeffrey back from his character’s mind and he turned.
“Jeffrey, will you take Karen on the Merry-Go-Round?”
Oh, please! “Yes, dear, of course……” As if he didn’t have better things to do at his typewriter, what with an alien invasion looming and all…