August 14, 2011

A Ghost and a Girl and a Country Road

I put on Rachel’s gigantic sunglasses and, holding a glass of wine, extended my arm.

“Come, come Mr. Bond. You derive just as much pleasure from killing as I do.”

David has a late-night adventure on a Vermont country road with a girl from Baltimore.

Rachel laughed. It was her turn now. We were sitting on tall stools in my Vermont kitchen. We had just watched a British comedy, The Trip. The two main characters, driving together through northern England, try to outdo each other’s impressions: James Bond, James Bond villains, Michael Caine. We had moved to wine after finishing off Rachel’s bottle of Hendricks, having mixed a half-dozen of that most humane of drinks, the gin and tonic. It was almost midnight. We had been together since about nine, when we met for our latest check-in: she showed me her day’s studio work and I read her what I had written in my novel. We did this every day. I discovered that I wrote a lot more when I knew I’d be forced to read it to Rachel later. Rachel, she was beautiful I thought: a country-girl’s face: open and wide-eyed and freckled. She was from Baltimore. She had a crazy laugh; she punched me when she felt happy. She had blond hair and it fell over her eyes. But she was a dark-spirited painter who painted dark scenes on tiny canvases, as though to prove a world absent of light. One night we had driven up the hill to the star-gazing field to watch a violent lightning storm coming from Canada. A few days later it ended up in her paintings.

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August 3, 2011

The Secret Hike

In New York City, I’m as wily as a cat. I can wend around office cubicles without trembling the air; contort myself inside a crowded subway car so I touch no one; negotiate with a hostess for a better table; ignore the crap wine teasers on the drink list at a tapas bar. Hold out for a better day rate at a digital agency. But that’s New York. Here in Vermont, I’m a stumbling fool, a mockable urbanite, an ignorant outsider.

The Vermont philosopher takes David on a hike

I also know when someone’s trying to impress me with their country ways. I play along. I nod with bright-eyed wonderment. I act the fool.

Darren, the town philosopher, invited me on a hike when he saw me at the café. “I’m going to take you where no one ever goes. You’ll have to promise me you won’t tell anyone about it.”

“Sure, I won’t. Where are we going?”

“You’ll see. You won’t be sorry.”
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