Long John Silver, Boris Karloff, Liberace and Wagon’s Ho! the day had been beautiful. Exceptional really! The outside caught in a mosquito-free cool balmy Summer’s late afternoon sitting around with friends in a neighborhood forest preserve. The nation’s birthday was at hand announced occasionally with the thunderous report of firecrackers and the whistle of celebratory missiles launched skyward. The small ensemble of three sat in their cheap deck chairs upon the grass within the clutter of a makeshift picnic. The range of ages in-between spanning two decades. Conversation was an art that was now dusted off. Mike Myers, Ben Stiller, Tom Cruze, Ivana Fuckalot, Raymond Chandler! It was hard to decipher what the hometown interests were? One of them being the oldest with fresh memories of names and shows from times that the other two could not recall. The other guy in this small ensemble a well-seasoned European emigre naturalized since young adulthood a quarter of century past. His wife a native of northern Ohio with ways that at times seemed strange to the other two. Even though one was her husband in a relationship that could boast almost two years. MierThe sun drifted slowly down descending incrementally from its unnaturally long dominion siting in the sky. Eyes drifting skyward with the passing groans of titanium gnats whose twin engines whined above. A distraction to the bouts of recollection of each, some public and much more private. The rumpled cloth of bygone memory spread out like a canopy them hovering above the blankets on the grass. Odds and ends of small Ziplock bags filled with olives, and pickles and cheese cut into small planks. The trees surrounding this clearing filtering the light into warm hues challenging the imagination of a painter’s mental blank canvas. The kibitzing brought forward a joke about a married couple watching a solitary drunken man stagger as ways down the lane. “Look honey!” “He must be still be celebrating his divorce!” The biting edge of mutual laughter catching each in completely different ways. You could hear occasional crescendoes of a much larger family affair in an adjoining clearing several hundred feet down the concrete lane. The other tribe of humanity bringing its hot dogs and hamburgers and loud DVD driven realities to an otherwise peaceful quiet. The sun had now settled back behind the treelike and the sudden coolness brought the seance to its conclusion. It was getting hard to find things to say that would shoo away the exhaustion of the concluding holiday. What little their was left was put back in its paper bags and packed in the car’s trunk. A the small grill was emptied of the ash of exhausted charcoal. Weary goodbye’s were said and all departed.
The evening was quiet. Dusk brought the darkness but little in the way of the barrage of customary fireworks. Patriotism had been leached out of region the haphazard mismatch of overlapping ethnicity’s that enjoyed the yearly ritual but were oblivious to it’s origins. Officially, the big municipal displays were now dead. Assigned out of the budget. So what disturbance there was came in patchworks of small unofficial neighborhood tirades. One could imagine that the intensity of spirit that seemed missing had departed due to a political shift in loyalties. The last few generations were content to celebrate their leisure with cell phones or rides along the bike trails. The shades of previous generations stood like silent relics within the solitary thoughts projected on the ceiling. The young did not need ghosts. They had them in profusion at the cinemas upon the wide screen. Those others who had accumulated many years past the age of parenthood could remember those of their own now but a wispy haze of momentary present’s. A small post midnight enclave int he distant down the street carrying on the almost indifferent ritual of “light em and run!” Their nuisance somehow expected. The problem not being noise or the interruption of sleep but the stirrings of times long past format he collected dust of forgetfulness. Emotions congealed into bitter alcohol from a long ignored brandy snifter. The pangs of the loss of entire lifetimes coming not from the many instants of falling into the muse of these absent ones being just out of sight in a reprise of a past scenario. But in all those many little readjustments of mental focus that brought one back into an ever emptier realization of a solitary present tense.