(a Prose Ballad)
Copyright 2010 held by Author
She waited at the front door. The airport taxi in the driveway only honked once. Everything had been said—either in a shout or a whisper—weeks and days before now.
They failed at his attempt to remain middle class. After he explained the certified letter from the bank, the lawyer said prepare for the worst, then said his firm forbid him to say more until the last invoice was paid.
She managed a franchise restaurant that went belly up when the last plant closed down. He knew computers, went to community college. Tech support moved to Bangladesh. She had family where she was going and a guy she met on the internet . I’m sorry the call center closed, said the lawyer, you’re not alone.
He couldn’t look at anything until he heard the front door close. Through the window he saw the thin red belt in the wide blue loops of her jeans, the tan label of the brand, the gold thread stiches of the seams outlining the back pockets, then the backs of her calves, the denim flapping around her boots. The driver of the Airport Taxi said nothing as she got in the back seat.
There had been two moving vans in the neighborhood yesterday. Belongings leaving houses, nobody said good bye. No one new around, except that old man who appeared a year or so ago, wearing a rain coat no matter the weather. Heard he fought in Vietnam, heard he had a graduate degree. He drinks malt liquor from quart bottles. He waits outside the liquor store until all the customers are gone so no one can comment on his smell.
The Airport Taxi was yellow and black, sweeping along the cul-de-sac. When he could no longer see it with his eyes, he imagined the Airport Taxi on the highway, the signs and strip malls passing in and out of her view. He saw her plane rising off the tarmac. She had a window seat but couldn’t see the cities beneath, the highways beneath, the amber waves, the houses that were homes still intact with satellite dishes on the roofs. The programs this time of day on the television he could barely remember and he realized for the first time in his life he was older than the president.
Only a few summers ago it seemed, after eating outside and drinking one too many glasses of white wine, one thing led to another and they made love on the deck. Now, instead of a garden there was only brown grass and a broken mower in the shed and no one to complain about how he kept the lawn.