… from G

A journal entry from years ago, which may appear later in SOG’s personal copyrighted patented pseudo-poetry-like format.

Across from me in the coffee shop, a woman in her late twenties, perhaps a couple years older. Stocky but not overweight, heavily plucked eyebrows, startlingly pretty gray-blue eyes.

She wears a mock sailor’s cap, frayed but neat, turned brim down. Beneath the cap her hair is short, straight, and very black. Something about its disarray suggests it once was wavy, and might be again if she let it grow long.

Three small black-haired boys sit with her. She seems abrupt with them but they respond affably to her gruffness, as if to say “I know you’re just kidding, ma.” Apparently they read her right, for she does not raise her voice and does not threaten, even lets herself smile a couple times at the well-contained mess her youngest is making with a cup of hot chocolate and a jelly doughnut.

So clear is the relationship among those four that at first I do not notice a fifth member of the group. He is a thin, nervous man with a blond mustache, a canvas pork-pie hat, a fake leather jacket and a very large watch. It is hard to see the entire man. His parts do not fit together. I look for him and see only a mustache or a hat or a jacket or a watch.

He does not talk to the boys. His conversation consists of complaints and grumbles. “Look what he’s doing with his doughnut.” She responds silently, glancing at the errant child long enough to determine nothing terrible is happening, then resuming a straight-ahead gaze, as if studying her hands.

I expect her fingers to be stubby with nails bitten short. I am wrong. Though rough — from work, I have to believe — her fingers are well-proportioned, her nails neatly trimmed.

She smokes Winston 100s relentlessly, consuming them with no apparent joy, pausing over the small ritual of lighting each one with a lighter lifted carefully from a pocket inside her small dark green purse.

Cigarettes tumble haphazardly from the pack. Her attention as she lights them is always on the lighter. Metal trimmed in wood, silver and walnut, wider and perhaps shorter than is fashionable but with an unmistakable grace. It does not seem new, though it is unscratched. There’s an inscription, most of it covered by her hand as she lights her cigarettes, but I can see that it ends with “…from G.”

The lighter works efficiently, firing quietly on the first try, snapping off then disappearing once more into the folds of her purse.

The boys finish their treat. The woman wipes the youngest one’s face and gets up to leave. Like ducklings, the children line up and march out solemnly behind her.

The man comes last, a great clutter of sounds, cowboy boots clicking on the tile floor, key ring jangling importantly, constant unnecessary shouts for the boys to hurry.

I do not think this fragmentary man in his pork-pie hat is G.


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