kate inglis

author of pirates and monsters

The debt of a dead man's gloves

Technically, it's not Dead Man's Gloves. It's Dead Woman's Gloves because they fit, and I'm a woman. Or, apparently, a Ma'am. That's what young punks call me in the United States. They call me Ma'am and I scowl. We don't do that in Canada. Especially to anyone under the age of 92. We just say Can I have your signature here please and consider that respectful enough, as long as we let you marry a gay or smoke a little pot on the superquad.

It was awkward, said Justin. We always had a pile of recovered gear in the patrol hut. Stuff nobody ever came back for. We found a camera once and returned it to the parents, and they developed it. (the room went silent) Yeah. And snowboards, and skis, and sometimes, like, one boot. Stuck in a tree well on the back side and we'd remember that it might have belonged to one of those two girls we found in that creek, or those kids in waffle t-shirts who started that slide. Maybe.

And the pile would grow and grow and eventually, on one of those deep days, a telemarker would eye a snowboard and think Well, it's all soft out there and hell, I'll try it and so he'd get over the Dead Guy's Snowboard thing and pull it off the pile.

Justin makes the point. Remember those alpine boots I had? The purple ones? Those were Dead Guy Boots. Actually they were Crazy Dead Guy Boots.

I remember. Oooh, you mean Crazy-Naked-Dead-Guy-up-a-Tree?

He shakes his head. Nope, not that guy. Kamikaze Dead Guy.

Oh.

I didn't mind. Those were good boots.

I look at my gloves. BURTON is stitched black on white. You got me these.

He nods.

You found these at the patrol hut.

He nods again.

+++

It's not fair, really. The dead owe us nothing and we owe them everything. We owe the dead our exquisite appreciation for how fleeting we are. Because when we embrace fleetingness - truly, wholly - we become conduits of peace and acceptance and courage. If we really understood that we're gonna die like he did and like she did, we'd LIVE, my god. We would live with such liveliness. We would never again lose vitality because we cared too much about Looking Good.

We owe them everything and they have all the answers, the dead. Why are we here? Is there anyone else out there? Is it true what they say about butterflies? Are there ancient things or is there only dust? Is dust such a sad thing? Is there a universal home and primal cosmic energy and God and by the way, does he really care if girls kiss girls or if we smoke pot on the superquad? Because if there's a god, god made pot just the same as god made hurricanes. Some say the hurricanes are punishment for the pot and all our lusts and foibles. Others might say god slid the pot, the lusts, and the foibles under the table to help us cope with the hurricanes.

Somebody you knew is gone, now. And somewhere, on some plane of near-existence, that somebody knows every secret worth knowing.

It's not fair, really.

+++

I wonder if it's called 'eternal rest' because when I die everything will be revealed, finally, in a flash, and the shock of it will require a very very long nap until I am born again as a beautiful whitetail doe. And eighteen months later I will be shot by a dude with a rifle and a suit that looks like a bush. And then I will be strapped to the back of a flatbed truck and paraded through town with my eyes fixed and glassy, my hooves dripping beautiful blood in the parking lot of the liquor store.

And again, as my killer emerges with a six-pack of Oland Export and everything goes dim: in a flash, revelation! Next time, I will sit in mud. I will obscure my brightness in the forest. Another answer to inform my evasion. Next time, I will outwit! I will win!

After a while, I am born again. Consciousness, inhabited space. Body, occupation, cold and current. Moments before this round's awareness of soul slips away I place myself, wry as it hits me: I am a trout.

 

What most recently prompted you to think about lusts, foibles, death, life, answers, and universal cosmic energy? Did you come to any conclusions? Did it require a six-pack of Oland Export?

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