Now moist and
raw, Rollie again stretched his fingers deep into his shoe and scratched
at that ankle. At the end of every Friday, the sunset off the Santa
Monica pier reminded him of a new disappointment, another unfulfilled
work week, a new hedge in his indecision. Rollie slumped in the
driver's seat, his chin pressed into the steering wheel. He pulled
up his socks and scratched at his legs, closed his eyes and knew
just how easy it was to engage the clutch and drive himself forward,
ever forward, to the edge of the pier, over and finally in.
Brian, May 23, 1998; Penny Peters on her birthday, July 5, 95; Cheryl,
the girl he kissed in the first grade-- did it right after high
school in 89; Bud Gross, sometime in the summer of Junior High,
oh yeah, and Garcia the kid next door, three weeks ago. It wouldn't
be like Brian's suicide, he thought, ugly and a downright embarrassment
to his family. No, if it was up to him, his parents would never
have to offer an excuse-- it would be just plain obvious.
As the sun dipped
into the ocean, Rollie got out of the car and sat on the hood. Couples
langoured, and skinny shouting children ran towards the ferris wheel.
Peanuts and popcorn disguised the stench of the populated beach.
Palm trees swayed, brushing the sky-- that brilliant mess and erased
what was left of the day. "If I were a cowboy, I'd walk into
the sunset," he sighed, "at the very least, a cowboy..."
and he let his thoughts meander back to Brian.