Yoharie: Existence (part three)
Val had never watched the Zapruder film, and the moment seemed ripe. Since Trevor kept talking…
The horror people had felt must have been more outrage.
Upset, truly. They lived in a world back then where they could think this one thing the end of society.
But you could see it was only a passage.
Can we do anything to help, and then suddenly, no. Maybe the detached view was the actual horror. How did a guy zero in on anyone, any creature, alive?
Val hadn’t considered it. Hunting was about light years away from his own life.
What you would be, bagging your target, seeing the unsuspecting ordinary eyes, the browsing of grass or drinking of water, the little moment of affection, maybe, a mother and her baby…
Saying to yourself, ha, ha. Gotcha.
There was a road he practiced on, access for a cell tower clearing…a fence, but other bikers had knocked it flat enough you could hump over it. If you came down at 3 o’clock, the embankment was shallow, so it was no trouble to sail from this onto the road, twisting midair to catch the curve. Cars were problematic, but of problems, Val had never had this one.
Like getting hit by lightning. A car is never going to be there just at that moment, but it only takes a second or two to get control and get out of the way. The goal, of course, was to keep trying, five minutes or so up to noon, so that the leap was farther and the twist tighter.
He mused on this. He pictured it. Trevor had got to his jumping off point, one of two boring directions his talk would always take. “In Totem, you see this, how once the character wants to manipulate people, steer them towards certain choices…or even with the totems themselves, that have exploitable properties… But no one other than the Totem-Maker can interpret whatever magic the totem confers on the person given it…”
So I get to noon, and by then I know what I’m doing, and I have about a six-foot drop, and there’s a slant, so I shouldn’t blow a tire, long as I nail the landing…
You could always tell yourself that would be the exact time the car would come. But it wasn’t, this game, about taking risks. It was about making risk dovetail with process, until basically there was no risk—
Dad and Dawn would never get that. But, and the question right now…
You get it perfect, score a ten. And still, that elation has nothing to do with hurting anyone.
Val decided it was a mind he could not enter into, the one that killed.
“Listen, before you go, tell me something about Giarma.”
“She won’t figure it out.”
He saw he was too obtuse for Trevor. He was ticked, in the squirmy way of knowing he’d been tagged justly. He might as well get up and go. “Lemme see. Movies. I think it’s gotta be the Oscar bait kind of thing.” He did the announcer voice. “An epic romance spanning three continents in the midst of war…”
“Shut up, Val. I wanna know if you think she’d be mad if I offered her a job.”
“You don’t make that kind of money, you could hire people.” It was a question. A shame to find this out, after he’d made Trevor mad at him.
“I hire people when I have a job I need done. But don’t tell her I’m paying anything. Find out if she wants to learn how to manage a website. I thought she did. Dawn kind of said so.”
Sometimes he wanted to ask Dawn an incorrect question. She would never mind, he knew it. But Giarma would say, “Val!”
He’d got his first break from school sneaking onto a plane. Joanne driving the shuttle then, he and his mother with an arrangement that worked okay… Val walked eight blocks from his school (not so bad), caught an airport bus downtown, hung around the public seating, supposed to be doing homework, until her shift ended.
He never did homework.
He could see right away possibilities in having his own bus pass.
The principle’s secretary, who knew Val’s family situation and commented on it, told him he could be expelled for stealing or fighting…not for leaving campus in the middle of the school day.
It struck Val they were putting nothing on the table. His own time was being wasted. “Well, I don’t wanna get beat up, and I don’t need other people’s stuff.”
He cut short of adding, “What else you got?”
She looked at him, then without guile took it the wrong way. “That’s a start. You’re not too young to think about consequences.”
The bus station people were warned.
But at 4:30 pm, having waited out the day, even sat an hour scribbling in a notebook (for the sake of the airport guards, who also in theory had been warned), he’d followed some family’s kids onto the plane—
Then stupidly cried when he found himself in Milwaukee, with no money. People were nice. The airline comped his return flight; the newspapers made a cute little story out of it…
His mother had hissed at him, lifted her hand but didn’t land it: “You’re gonna get me fired!”
He had thought his parents were together. Dad just away, on his jobs. But his father had the accident, and they brought him back.
(2019, Stephanie Foster)