Five Points, Vol. 7 No. 1Spring 2003
From Madison Smartt Bell, “Once I finish this book, I may start touring music. I don’t know what I am going to do. In all probability I am going to have my usual day job.”
My Adventures in Fantasy Land (A Story Full of Sax and Violins)
“I would prefer fact.” —V.S. Naipaul
“Facts are better than dreams.”—Winston Churchill
“Nothing gums up fiction like facts.”—John Updike
Somewhere locked into another time and another place and, as a matter of fact, locked in the upstairs bathroom just in case. Late afternoon, after school. The other kids (he guesses) are all out and about and away doing all kinds of different things. Doing whatever kids do after school and before supper. His mother has gone out to the grocery store and to do some errands. She will be back in maybe an hour or so. His father will get home from work at just about the same time, unless he should happen to come home early for some reason or other. A thing that has happened, but is not likely to.
The whole house is very quiet, seems empty for a while. He is sitting close by the window and can smell the sweet odor of freshly cut grass. Sam, the black man who takes care of all the yards on the block, will have mowed the lawns today. The boy loves the odor of newly cut grass. So does everybody else. He can hear a dog barking from the near distance, most likely a block away and most likely that black-and-tan hound owned by Mr. Fishman (we all called him “Fishbait”) the undertaker. A big old house, always looking freshly painted, a spooky place where there are usually a number of dead people lying around, waiting for whatever happens next. And from the tree right outside the window…almost close enough from where he’s sitting to touch, he could easily squeeze through the window and safely jump out and catch onto the nearest limb. He has done that plenty of times. From that very same tree a mockingbird is right now trying on some new voices and making up new songs.
Otherwise it is so quiet that he can hear the soft machine hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen downstairs. That’s a new-fangled thing, the refrigerator, replacing the great big ice box and the great big ice man and his huge tongs, the man who used to come by every couple of days with his horse and wagon. In those days so many things—fish, fruit, bread and bakery goods, scissor sharpeners, etc.—used to come to them by wagon.
The boy could doze of happily ever after and never wake up.
Mustn’t waste precious time, though.