The 31st Step

31st-step

I have suspicions!

Emily has said often I’m the suspicious type. Funny, I never thought I was but since I’m stuck here, I’m kinda suspicious of how I got here, better, why I’m here. Lord knows I’ve had plenty o’ time to figure it out, and of course, I ain’t figured much of anything, but like I said, I’m suspicious.

For instance, why 31? Why not two or two hundred? Could be that 31 puts me about half way to that stop sign, least it looks to be. But what’s the reason for that, I mean, everything stopping and starting again cuz I’m half ways to a stop sign. That doesn’t make any sense.

OK Lord, here I am at 30 steps. I can turn my head around and see my front door, my house and lawn, and out front of me are all the houses lined up along the thin gray gravel snake of a road under a nice, warm sky. That damn stop signs so close I can just ‘bout reach out and touch it, but you ain’t gonna let me near it, are ya? One more step…

And I’m back at the beginning, just right outside my door, standing on the stoop, briefcase in hand, heading for the bus stop that I now figure I’m never gonna see. I don’t have to look at my watch anymore. Done that too many times now. I know it says 7.17 and twenty one seconds, AM, but what it is really doing, is saying nothing, in fact, it’s laughing. Laughing at me for being stupid or something cuz I can’t figure out the mess I’m in. No matter what I do or how I do it, I end up doing the same thing over and over again. Start with my left foot, that don’t work, turn around and try to go back in, that don’t work.

So, I’m thinking, this might not be all about me. Mebbe it’s something bigger, after all, every time I end up back here, that there Robins in the same place peckin in my lawn, the sun hasn’t moved near anywhere across the sky. Then again, if it ain’t ‘bout me, why is it the 31st step always sends me back here, so it has to do something with me, but for the life of me, I can’t figure it out.

What I have figured out, is I’ve done this thirteen times now an’ nothing has changed so I’m gonna stand here for a bit and think about this. Now after thinkin’ ‘bout if for who knows how long, all I can think of is to yell out for Emily, hoping that she hears me.

So, I let her name rip here in the early morning air and I’m thinking it’s loud enough to raise the devil and break all the glass because my lungs are achin’ and my throat’s as coarse can be, an’ I can’t scream nothing any longer. I stop and I wait, and I tilt my head just a bit to the right and crane around the corner in that direction as best I can to the large picture window and there stands Emily, staring out like she was a marble statue or some thing.

I sez her name under my breath, and it comes out a hoarse whisper and then I notice her right eye is all healed up and that strikes me as odd. Odd, cuz that shouldn’t be because when I walked out that front door, that eye was as big and as purple as a beautiful dark night sunset. I know that, cuz I gave her that eye an’ before you go off thinking bad about me, thinking I hit and beat Emily, well, that there just ain’t the case.

See, she tried to say she wasn’t but I heard she was out soakin’ up some drinks with some of her friends last week while I was off on the lakes fishing. I know that because Jim Kendall let it slip that his wife said something to that matter. We was setting getting our haircut, when ol’ Jim mentioned he thought the ladies had a good ol’ time down at the Roadway. When I pressed ‘em on it, he didn’t say nothing more, wouldn’t say nothing more and he just outright clammed up like he knew he already said too much.

I jus’ nodded my head, sayin’ “That’s alright Jim, I unnerstand you don’ wanna make no beans about it. That’s all right if an’ you don’t mind you wife goes about ‘hoaring, but mine ain’t gonna…”

So, like I said, I ain’t in the habit of beating Emily but I ain’t no fool for liars and dammit, she had my fist coming, the way she was lying an all. Don’t care what y’ll think, but no wife of mine gonna be out soakin’ and get a reputation for ‘hoaring.

Looking at her standing in the window here, there’s no trace her eye was ever swollen and purple just before I walked out the front door. Now that, I just don’t get. No doubt, it’s figured in with all the general foolishness of this morning, and it is foolishness, of course. Only question I got, is whose foolishness is this, the Good Lords or  the red man down below, cuz it ain’t mine and it ain’t no other man cuz I know no other man can create this here kind of senseless foolishness, making a man walk 31 steps and then go start all over from the beginning. Course, I got my suspicions and my suspicions usually turn out to be right.

OK, I’m gonna try this one more time…