Eternity #3: The Anchor Tavern

They get the idea to bet my grandfather a bucket of beer that he can’t lift Butchie Poss off the ground. Who’d been telling them all how she used to make fish pools with my grandfather and red-clay sparrows in the creek behind her house when her and him were kids. Who almost hung herself accidentally in the Florida room with an ironing cord if it hadn’t been for the help heard him yelling. Who was that same help who used to let them dip buttered white bread in the sugar bowl and used to give him slices of raw potato he’d salt for himself when he’d go to her house after school but she never had the taste for raw potato.

She’d never been right in her head, she’d been telling them.

They tell Butchie go stand over by the pool table. They tell her hold her arms out and keep them there. They tell my grandfather he’d better stretch out his muscles, hoss, because she looks like a load. So my grandfather wipes his palms on his pants and shakes his hands loose. He nods gratefully at all the advice he’s being given. My grandfather is a drunk and lost and he and I never knew each other, but we share this: we’re overcome by even meager kindness.

One of them squeezes my grandfather’s shoulders like he’s a boxer in his corner. My grandfather nods again. Much obliged. Much obliged.

Butchie is settling her haunches still with her arms out and staring straight ahead while my grandfather finds his grip around her body and gets his footing.

Y’all about good? the leader of all this says.

For all eternity, Butchie and my grandfather gravely nodding yes.

Bird Report

Turkey vultures in the 300-foot cell tower on the outskirts of Malaiseville. They’re perching on the metal lattice, receiving ancient vibrations in the ionic drone of microwaves. They roost like 50 decisions in a see-through heart.

Two of the vultures lift-off to fly. They unroll their long, magic-carpet wings.