Three Paragraphs from a Troubled Summer



Swallows are making cursive loops above the royal blue canopies granting shade where we sit away from the over-conditioned air and wait for the small print, like termites, to eat away at the contracts due to be signed for new vehicles. Two seats away a man and woman in their driving years preparing to take a camper on the open road sit back with their feet up on the cushion so thoughtfully provided by the dealership. I can’t help but hear, when he calls his son in Florida with his cell phone on speaker, his lament for the Scottsdale store damaged during the turmoil earlier in the week, and the response from over where the beaches have reopened and the living seems easy: Not much going on here but I’ve seen them firing rubber bullets; they could be real for all I care. To which the father says I hear ya, before Junior continues by describing the more compact weapon he’s planning to buy because This is a stand your ground state so you can blow somebody away just as long as you tell ‘em why.  It must be restful there, the tide lapping up against the sand while the generations bond over the matter of who’s controlling whom and how. Odd, how a virus running too fast to control becomes in certain minds a tool for government to lock us in and exercise containment, while when the police point their guns at a restless population, it’s for the sake of public safety.


The mountains settle back into position after their turbulent night among the stars. It is the dawn of a normal day in an abnormal time, when appearances deceive and the emperor Sun in all its finery seems to be the image the president has of himself, shining before a submissive Earth. We shall remain secluded and quiet again today, seeking shelter from an invisible threat, settling down at home with caution as our neighbor, watching the television for the latest bad news while commercials assure us that happiness is not that comet in the recent skies burning out on its trajectory. The president is loved and those who love him are blinded from staring too long into the sun. But they praise this tattered country for its freedom of speech while the president tries to ban books about him and hide his tax returns. Which country do we live in: one where the fates are armed and refuse to wear a mask or one where daylight blesses us with hope and good sense? All is much as we expect it to be so early in the morning, with the sound of a woodpecker drilling into the moon as it slides behind the ridgeline.


The devil’s in the details, and the details drip, drip, drip into our minds until we don’t lay down to sleep, but to worry. It’s all a grand aria ringing from a story too improbable to be true, but the news says it is and every day begins with a new lie from the president and those happy advertisements for a laxative to ease discomfort. He never stops recycling the same superlatives to say how great those who serve him are, and it takes a wider blind spot every day for his supporters to keep faith. Little wonder that we’re weighted down with darkness even when the signs are for change, winding our way slowly like the coyote on 44th Street this morning, who was slim but still sharp as he slipped from one yard to the next. He looked better than the man in the wash near Elliot, slinging his T-shirt across his shoulder like a flag of surrender to life in an America still trying to define what greatness means. His future looked dimmer than the coyote’s. One pair of pants. One shirt. A hundred and five degrees by noon and I could smell him just by looking. If anyone should worry, it is him. But who knows what goes on in other people’s minds when so many just sit back and bask in the light of obsessive mendacity? Really good lies, by the way, fantastic lies. Nobody else can lie like this. Terrific mistruths, and there’s never a shortage. Lie big. Lie loud. There’s always a market.




      David Chorlton


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One Response to Three Paragraphs from a Troubled Summer

    1. David,
      I Love the way you think and then put it on paper. You are so observant and can turn it in to my own feelings in such a poignant prose.

      Comment by Carol Sampson on 3 September, 2020 at 12:18 am

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