Monday, March 21, 2011
Homer had gotten loose. He lacked a fundamental understanding of what sacrifice it takes to staunch an irreversible negative flow of energy… a drain downhill to entropy.
I loaded the tray with ointments, salves, that month’s round of special foods and vitamins, and when I opened the door of his room he was nowhere to be found. I checked under the bed. I had already sealed shut his closet. Most of the rooms had too much debris to maneuver about in, but I checked some overlooked crawl spaces and dead ends on the second floor, but he was nowhere to be found. I started turning over boxes, boards, old disused furniture.
I took out a flashlight and stabbed the dark, probing along the outer edge of the upper landing of the stairs, which by this time was a unnavigable maze of broken pieces of cars, mattresses, box springs, crates and used barrels. He was not there. After a more than cursory search of the first floor which still had, at that time, a relatively large amount of open space, I decided, to my utter disbelief, that he had somehow gotten out of the brownstone. Homer, at this juncture, was ninety five percent blind, unaware, even in a glancing sense, of how baroque and clustered his surroundings were. To me, his escape was unimaginable.
I sat on a hard wooden bench in the hall way, the bench I would take my winter boots off on when I was a boy and gripped my temples with my massive hands. A little glint of anger, diamond hard, was lodged in my mind. Above me a bulb suspended from a frayed wire swung with the counter rhythm of my swaying. My shadow swung around me in dizzying circles.
I stood up decisively and moved the debris in front of the street door, an entrance not used in three or four years. With great effort I pushed it open. Rain was pouring down. Running breathlessly around the house I looked for holes. I did not need to look long.
A piece of rotting wood had been kicked away from a rear window barrier and he had apparently slithered through the narrow aperture. Shinning the flashlight on the ground I could see drag marks leading away from the building toward the abandoned yard in the back. I found him face down in the mud. He was looking for a chink in the fence, inadequately groping his way along the perimeter. I got down on my knees and roughly turned him around.
“Ahhhhh!”he screamed, he cried, his face was seized by panic sorrow, dread, simultaneously. I felt all my defenses slide and slip and I was naked before him, in a complete fusion of empathy and then they clicked firmly in place again and my resolve was back. At first I wanted to hold him and then I wanted to slap his face. All I managed to do for that awful moment was to vigorously shake him. “Ahhhhh,” came that scream again, this time unmistakable, sorrow
“Ahhh Langley, I know that you know better, that I don’t know nothing… but its… I can’t…. It’s just…” He started a round of machine like sobbing. He seemed to be choking on the rainwater that was drenching on both of us. His small feet were kicking in the mud with spasmodic jerks.
I pulled him close to me and tried to hoist him up. He clenched his little fetal fists and was quite ineffectually hitting my chest. I gathered him up, trying to shelter him from the rain by wrapping him in a loose tarp that was clinging to the fence. I lifted him, a senseless, sobbing bundle, back to the house.