The trip home took about an hour, when it usually took a quarter of that, and you weren't on my mind when I slid the car to the curb two blocks from home. Sumbitch freezing rain and snow generally made a mess of things, and do you know this is the first time I've ever had to abandon my car? Ever? Hope it doesn't get towed. Tomorrow is going to be a bitch getting out.
Where was I? Oh, right, "parking" the car. I resolved that I would have to leave it, so I grabbed my briefcase and lunch bag, the telescoping ice scraper, and stepped out into the snow. The squeak of it beneath my boots set my teeth on edge. Nothing for it but home.
It was while walking up the hill, on the main street that intersects mine that I first thought of you. Well, not a thought so much as a feeling, if I am being accurate. You know what reminded me of you? It was the streetlights, in the snow. The glow from them seemed particularly yellow, each surrounded by a flickering ruff of snowflakes tumbling through the air. Trudging up the street, I felt a warm surge of deja vu course through me, and I looked up into the light, and there we were, trudging down City Park Avenue that one winter where we got a lot of snow and we were both in our teens.
Do you remember that, my brother? You with the Miami Dolphins toboggan hat, and me wearing that ski jacket. I think it was the one that made us look like the Michelin Man after a roll through through the remains of a campfire. Man, that jacket ended up dirty. That's what we got for delivering newspapers while wearing it, and generally behaving like adolescent males do. Which is to say, with vigor and boisterousness, but rarely with common sense.
But we didn't need common sense, did we, Big Bro?
That's what led us to wander out in that snowfall, you and me and Carl. Was it Carl that was with us? I think so. We ambled down Johnson Avenue, over to the avenue, making snowballs and trying to hit streetlights. We all tried to catch flakes on our tongue. And walking down the middle of the street, because there was no traffic! Rebels, we were!
I remember walking up to Vick Street, no real destination in mind, and on the way we looked up into the ocher sky, not really watching where we were walking. We stopped near a streetlight, and one thing that still sticks in my mind after all these years, is standing there with you in that sodium vapor glare with back lit snowflakes cascading down before us. I remember that quite well, brother.
That memory, those snowflakes...you came back to me tonight, as I shoveled off the walk in front of my gate. I paused briefly to rest, and as I did my gaze wandered up to the streetlight across the road. The shape of the light, the yellowy glare...and snow drifting down like flakes of memory from the sodium sky.
I closed my eyes, a little upwelling of liquid heat making me gasp against the cold wind. I heard, or thought I heard, the faint squeak of footsteps behind me. For a few precious heartbeats, I was home again and we were walking down the middle of the road, secure in the knowledge that we would catch some snow on our tongues, and that we would live forever.
And you do, my brother. Because my heart still beats, you do.