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Where I'm At

Scott Rahin writes in with an update.

I am at the most pitiful Internet cafe imaginable, in Graysville, PA. I am sorry to be so out of touch, so far off. I was back with Mike and bought a $200 car from his father, drove it out here according to Mike's directions. He grew up here, told me where to go to camp. His family owns the land, two square miles. I caught 6 brook trout with worms I bought from a vending machine. I skinned them and cooked them on an iron pan over a fire as the sun set, along with some canned string beans. It was not a bad idea.

Then I slept naked inside a sleeping bag under the stars. Didn't bother with the tent. My friend Beat (Beatrice), arrived the next day, from Philadelphia, her pickup coming up the gravel road like rain. I could hear it a mile away. She is a far more aggressive fisherman than me, a slip of paper, ponytail, and angled folds around the eyes. From Vermont, as if by law. Smarter than I, which I acknowledge.

I am feeling a diminished fury lately. Temporarily. Perhaps it's Beat putting her ear to my chest. I am for the first time interested in figuring out why I was so pissed. It was not a subtle anger, right? When I consider your drowning and of course the bat-beating of Our Banking Friend. I'm not looking at my anger in a what-my-parents-did sense, because what did they do, but just in digging it up, finding the evil corners of my mind with the goal of being good.

I get the sense from your email that you too are waking up a different person in the mornings. What a hypocrite I am to think I might interrupt my steady litany of calling you an utter cocksucker and press my head against your shoulder. I woke up this morning and thought about you. I am not constant. I am not substantive. But I - well, it's an unmasculine word, awkward, expensive. I'm always surprised to see you use it so freely. You pussy.

But love.

The truth being I've gone hippie, and am planning to build things in the woods and give backrubs to all takers. There's less reward in all the chilled bitterness. I'd say kill me but it's nice to settle down and not feel the pressure coursing through me, the itch in my lungs pushing a cry out through the larynx. My mouth is at rest. No one wants to be famous. At least in the grasping, visceral East-Village way. They want to barbecue and read books. No one here has mentioned shoes, not a word.

There are two of me, the hungry one, and the one lighting the grill. I've been thinking a lot about that poor bastard that got the concussion. I found out before I left that he and Margaret are back together, but she says he's never lifted a hand in anger since. She knows it was me. She doesn't question it. He never asked, just apologized. Perhaps I'll go to the wedding, right? He won't recognize me, though. We're talking just over a year, the last act of violence in my life.

I am looking forward to the Milt reunion with Matt and Eric and you. I will refer to this trip as Operation Steadfast Badger. I can get myself to Jersey myself, but email me the directions.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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