The father, bearded in grey, stands at the bus stop corner with his daughter, flung blonde and lanky. Every school day for the past five years and yet, even now I don’t know why he waits with her. In the few seconds that click by as I drive past on the way to work, it is apparent they have a certain agreement.
In the lobby outside my office a voice booms. But it is booming quietly. The longer the man talks the more I feel. I am not here. Not in an office with a computer. Not in an office with a phone, but rather on the prairie that comes with a forest with trees chanting, drums with some bells dancing. The man, I discover after I invent a trip through the lobby, is speaking Crow. Long vowels, warm grunts. Oh, to know the story.
What I also don’t know happens between the husband and the wife who can be found every evening at 5:01 p.m. climbing the steep hills from the creek bottom, which I cross on my way home. He hobbles in the way that speaks of broken feet. She walks with the stiff upper lip that speaks of . . . what? I don’t know. Derby, my beat-up vehicle, should sport a bumper sticker that says, I stop for stories.
But lately, I’ve not had time to write. My writing table has turned into what we call a design studio. We are collaging pendants and, uh, collages. Last night Fishing Guy was waiting on my doorstep when I got home from work. He had some designs in mind and went straight to the studio after turning on the iPod of mixed songs he brought with him.
And it goes like that. We zig to the other’s zag. Easy to work in silence. Easy to sing to songs.
Time is on my side, he sings, sorting through scrap to find just the right bit of yellow. Not mustard yellow, but something he calls Old Time Yellow.
I ain’t in no hurry, I sing, cuz I ain’t got no worries.
The next song up is In My Life—his favorite.
More silence. I look over at him, on the other side of the table. Why so quiet? Part of the collages we do involve lines from poems, stray words, random dialogue. We have a collection of decaying dictionaries we cut words from, and there sits the Fishing Guy reading the thesaurus. So caught up in words he forgets to sing.
Coast: The difference between a coast and the shore is the coast is the seaward limit of the land and the shore is the landward limit of the sea.
He’s been missing Oregon. This is the story I know.