Ancient dreams, dreamed-Those Old Homesick Blues- Magical Realism 101
“Good luck, and don’t forget us, Peter Paul,” yelled John “Swifty” Sweeney as the last of the Markin household goods were placed in the moving van for the trip across town to their new digs in North Adamsville. “Don’t worry Swifty I’ll be back in a couple of days. No way as I going to leave my friends here in the projects. I didn’t want to move so I’ll be back just like nothing happened,” yelled Peter Paul right back. And that simple statement, kind of, for the moment at least, put Peter Paul’s, and his best friend Swifty’s world back in order.
Peter spoke the truth when he said that he didn’t want to move, move even from the projects that he had been moaning and groaning to get out of for years, once he realized that there was no cache, no respect and no percentage in being from that far down on the totem pole once he escaped to North Adamsville. The taste, taint, touch of the projects followed like some low-tide mud flat fetid clam swamp.
His parents had, in that hard-scramble both working crumby jobs 1950s “golden age” gathered enough dough together to get a midget house in North Adamsville where his mother, Delores, had grown up and where his grandparents had always lived. But when push came to shove and moving day arrived he went “on strike.” Tears streaming down his face he refused, utterly refused, to help load things up in boxes and crates and it was all that he could do to compose in his bravado “farewell” to his friend.
And so a few days later, boxes and crates settled in the house, unpacked mainly, although as always with moves it takes time to get everything new set up, Peter Paul got out his old Schwinn one-speed bicycle with the patented foot brake petal and started out across town to the projects like some stray lemming back to the sea, and back to the only life that he had known in his long twelve, almost thirteen years of life. He rode like the wind through the town hardly containing himself, his thoughts, and his energies to be back with the old tribe, the guys (mainly) who made project life at least bearable. And number one, numero uno, in that universe was Swifty (and had been for a while now that Billie Bradley, king hell king of the Adamsville projects night, junior division, had “stepped-up” to robbing gas stations with older guys and Peter Paul had backed off, backed way off from that scene)
Sure enough as Peter Paul headed up Captain’s Walk the central hang-out place there was Swifty hanging out with Bennie Bopper, a guy from school, a goof in a lot of ways but a guy to keep company with until something better turned up, AND Theresa Green, Peter Paul’s old crush flame goddess save-the-last-dance-for-me sitting very close, very, very close to Swifty. Peter Paul flushed and then yelled out, “She’s your girl now, I guess, Swifty.” And already feminine female Theresa soft-whispered back, “No sir, Peter Paul I am just keeping Swifty company, Benny’s my honey now, now that you’re gone.” Peter Paul flushed again, flushed that Theresa, who did not say word one when he told her his family was moving across town and flushed that Benny Bopper took his place. Although now that he had “new” eyes he could see where a girl like Theresa might go for Benny on the rebound. Good old Swifty, no way.
So that day, a week later, and a couple of weeks and a couple more times after that Peter Paul would show up and he and Swifty and Benny’s Theresa (with or without Benny) would cut up old torches. And on those days Peter Paul was happy, happy for the smells, sounds and sights of the old neighborhood, the old blessed projects.
Then one day a couple of months later Peter Paul mounted his trusty bike for another trip “home.” Damn that it would have to be a windy day, a windy day when he decided, not exactly knowing the best route, that if he travelled along the shoreline he would probably make good enough time and maybe cut across some of that wind. Now for those who must know the exact route this effort required going over the high-span Squaw River Bridge, the bridge that separated North Adamsville from Adamsville proper. Not a big bridge not a Brooklyn Bridge, Golden Gate concoction, far from it. But almost as if there was some mystery pull (or push, for that matter) to it that bridge seemed a bridge too far, an un-arched, un-steeled, un-spanned, un-nerved bridge too far.
See Peter knew that the die was cast that day, or at least he did when he had time to reflect on it later. Knew one- speed bicycle boy, dungarees rolled up against dog bites and geared meshes, churning through endless heated, sweated, no handkerchief streets, names, all the parts of ships, names, all the seven seas, names, all the fishes of the seas, names, all the fauna of the sea, names that the old home was past. That once twelve-years old, now thirteen, bicycle boy had hard churned miles to go before sleep, searching for the wombic home, for the old friends, the old drifter, grifter, midnight shifter petty larceny friends, that’s all it was, petty and maybe larceny, hard against the named ships, hard against the named seas, hard against the named fishes, hard against the named fauna, hard against the unnamed angst, hard against those changes that kind of hit one sideways all at once like some mack the knife smack devilish thing had to move on. End of story.