Excerpt from "Flightseeker" (Fiction)
1 At The Green Valley Country Club pool, there was this one palm tree. It was the longest, skinniest palm tree you’ve ever seen. I can’t show it to you because it’s not there anymore. It came down during the turning point, when all things shifted from unique to soulless. During the great multiplication of lawyers and lawsuits, before it had the chance to snap like a giant twig and take out a sun bather, or worse, a child unsuspectingly yelling, “Polo!” It came down at the same time as the high dive. But, while it was there, that rickety old palm tree, arching from side to side like an emaciated gymnast in the slightest breeze, somehow, even with a trunk the circumference of an octogenarians ulna, it managed to provide shade from the unrelenting sky. Teenagers doing gainers off the low dive, there with their girlfirends who had feather roach clips hanging from their rear view mirrors. Us, the kids, plugging our noses off the high dive, walking to the snack bar with our bellies proudly distended, going briskly enough to avoid scalding the soles of our feet, yet conservatively enough so as not incur the lazy, but firm, “ Hey, no running!” from the mouth-breathing pubescent lifeguard.
2 I meet Dorothy Lepselder for the first time at that little island at the bank where you fill out your deposit slip. Dorothy is wearing leopard print. Her hair is the color of Autumn in New York. It’s red goes from flame to cranberry juice, the edges crisp from Grand Finale Hairspray, like a gourmet dessert that looks like a nest, made of crystallized honey, poured over with pomegranate juice. Dorothy is 89, originally from Brooklyn. Dorothy says hello to Jerry, a bank employee with a terrible comb over that looks like seaweed. Dorothy loves him because “He’s always so friendly”, but when she says “How are you, Jerry?” it seems like she’s more excited about it than he is. We walk together, very, very slowly, with her on my arm, instead of her cane, to a kosher bakery just up the street. She lets me pick out whatever pastry I want from the case. We walk back, very, very, slowly to the bank where she will catch her Senior Citizen Bus home. “Uh oh, Jennifer!”, she says in a panic. “I left my bag up there! My bag’s in there! Would you run up and get it for me?” Her bag, I will come to learn, is what she always carries on every outing. Around her waist she wears a fanny pack that has the Louis Vuitton logo all over it. It contains her money, and ID and lipstick. Her bag, proper, is a Trader Joe’s grocery bag, which contains only a few pieces of Kleenex, which shift lightly around the bottom. She never goes anywhere without this bag. I run back up to the bakery, where it’s sitting on the floor, near the cash register. Thankfully, untouched.
3 She’s driving along Santa Monica Blvd. She feels her car moving, pulling magnetically, into the left hand turn lane that goes into Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The sun is goldeny warm. It is the kind of day where the occasional dragon fly zips by, and the insects are light and festive in the brightness. She has never been to Hollywood Forever. Dorothy was buried here a couple of years ago, but it was Christmas time so she was at her parent’s house. Today is the day she will find Dorothy! She parks her car. In the center of a lake there is a huge white mausoleum. On top of it live two cranes. Beautiful, regal cranes with great wingspans, and excellent bone structure. She sees one of them returning to the roof from a flight somewhere. She looks up just soon enough to catch its grace before landing, the soft lifting of wind under an expanse of white feathers.