All the mice are huddled in the basement like the women and children of Helm's Deep. Our feet are orcs. Everything shakes. Then it's Nothing's Too Good For My Baby and Keely Smith is lovely and proper and won't take no sass, not usually, but Louis is sass, all-sass, and he is the king.
I scoop Ben up with his legs wrapped around, like when he was little, and we spin, we dip, and I sing along, and he blushes and giggles.
Baby sugar baby, I'd bake you a pie. Just for you I'd buy a weddin' ring.
I don't know why it's always old music, but it is. Me and Billie Holiday and a coyote on pitch black sand. Me and Ben and Louis Prima in the kitchen. The sailmaker's chest, the captain's trunk, the patchwork of black and grey and pinstriped suit. My cave. If I'm honest, it's empty of culture, literature, and media with the exception for what I crumple up underneath the kindling. Just a battered copy of The Twits and really good tea but otherwise I'm a terrible hermit. Cloistered with things that never change, on top of nothing that evolves. I've got all kinds of opinions and convictions and almost none. Everything either instinct or pre-pubescent creative insecurity. I bring in the wood, and I cook, and I get orc-ish. I see Sheree's marching orders on the bulletin board and tiptoe, tiptoe softly as I pass.
Still that lingering illusion that there's time, you know? When it's best to assume at worst that there's not, not at all; and at best what there is of it will be a blink.
Someone once said They don't know who you really are—I do. No, they don't, and no, you don't. Plenty of people don't know who plenty of people really are. I sound smarter than I am. I write with more light than I project. I wonder an awful lot about love while using the word liberally. I am not generally up to speed. I make a lot of crumbs.
I am warm. Flowered. I know little and smile often. I am not afraid anymore. I am deeply relieved to be relieved, if by shock therapy, of my smugness. Gifts and treasure maps! Everywhere sass and giggles. Old Man Luedecke live on Saturday. Mice in traps. Spells of melting. Upcoming plane rides to rocky ports and oysters and self-ordained speakeasy whores in red jammies. My children are proud of themselves. We dance and we snuggle and we eat too much. All is well.