Archive for Weeping
You know the Sloops, but they don’t know you. Oak Sloop, Daffodil Sloop, and their son, Augustus Sloop. “Excuse me, sir,” Oak says, squeezing past you during Easter services. “So sorry,” says Daffodil, a step behind, clutching the pale blue tail of his sportcoat. Augustus treads on your foot and sticks out his tongue.
They knew you once, though. Daffodil did, back when she was home from Miss Pendergast’s Academy on spring break and strung out and said she would die, just keel over dead with disappointment, if you didn’t leap from the roof of her house into the pool. She would wait for you in the poolhouse, she said, naked. So you jumped (you barely made it–you scraped your hand on the edge of the deck right before you hit the water), but the only thing in the poolhouse was a lopsided inflatable shark. And you stood there, dripping with poolwater and high from having cheated death, and still you loved Daffodil.
Oak tried to get you to play games, weird games, when you were little and your mothers got together to drink and go through the L.L. Bean catalogue. You politely declined. Oak said, “What are you? Scared?” Your mother bought the dog a bed monogrammed with “Chester.” The dog’s name was Giles. Chester was the name of your mother’s lover. That was her idea of a joke. Oak got kicked out of prep school for nameless sins. He tried to get you to join the Marines with him. He said, “What are you? Scared?” But the day you left for bootcamp, Oak was nowhere to be found. And you sat there, with the drill sargeant yelling in your face and your life as you knew it dwindling in the back window, and still you loved Oak.
Augustus says he wants to be a garbage man. His mother says he musn’t be.
On him: pincord regent sportcoat, linen trousers, stain resistant hawaiian floral tie, a curse. On her: just something she picked up at the shop in town. On little him: chinos, seersucker, unreasonable expectations.
Angie knew when to say no, she just didn’t want to. Hunter told her that his band was going on at 10. Normally he played spoons in the electro-funk quartet Cobalt and the Beholder, but tonight he clapped quietly in the background of The Worship Potential, the Vatican II, alt-folk band that was really big on the internet. Angie cut the bottoms off her very best pair of leather pants, the ones from her Kitty Pit days, and painted her face tuberculosis white. Oh how he would love her tonight, the ghost of girlfriends past.
Hunter clapped well, if too loudly, tonight. The other band members glared at him at the end of the set, but it was in their nature to quietly forgive him and thank him before floating ethereally away in their khaki pants. Hunter wasn’t like them, but oh how he wanted Joanna, the squirrel-voiced singer who cooed her way through every song. He hurried after her, to the after-party in some grassy, moonlit field.
Angie saw him leave with her and she stood there in the darkness. The leather shorts were slowing turning her lower intestines numb. Crying, she started to slide down the greasy wall of the club. But she could only get halfway.
High waisted Jamin leather shorts with vintage snaps. Do not dry clean.
No, said her father, you may not wear asymmetrical dresses. No, you may not study apiculture. No, you may not walk the runway. No, you are not Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. No, you may not marry the doorman.
She showed him.
At her wedding she wore a short, black, one-shoulder number with a two-horned chapeau and chin-length veil.”You look like you’re meeting Death for cocktails,” said Mr. O’Houlihan before he slipped the ring on her finger. Honeybees buzzed among the rafters. Shake, senora, shake, sang the choir. The bishop was pleased, but no one quite knew why.
Bonded jersey one-shoulder dress. ‘Hades’ hat with attached veil.
The body floating in the pool was a wax dummy. The sleeping shape in the Buchanans’ bed was a bundle of blankets with a paper maché head.
They sailed to Cadiz on the RMS Homeric and made their way to Monte Carlo, where they promptly disappeared. After a few years they resurfaced in Rome, then Oslo, then Montenegro. They were spotted at a house party on the Isle of Man, and they appear in a photograph taken in 1937 at Stalin’s dacha near Sochi on the Black Sea. He wears a belted peasant shirt and a pince-nez, she a white dress.
They waited out the war in Tashkent. When it was over, they wandered through Asia and Africa and eventually settled on a kibbutz, where they died within a month of each other in 1977, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.”
White collar shirt in summit stripe. Launder on delicate cycle in tears for the past. Tumble dry low.