Quentin Paquette and Paula Lantz

Paula Lantz
Dark Energy 28

Inspiration piece

Under The Carport
Quentin Paquette

The wind is coming up, and the clouds are moving in fast.  When the sun went down, it looked like it would finally be a clear night.  Now I’m under the carport, peering out under the porch overhang to watch the oversized orange full moon to be over taken.  Leaning up against the corner of the house, too tired to stand without seeking a bit more support.

Close my eyes now and self-assess.  Feet swell and press against the insides of my shoes.  Fingers hands and forearms dangling heavily.  Ankles and wrists sore.  Thighs encouraging me to sit.  Shoulders stretching back trying to wring out the tightness between.  Blood pooling in my hands and feet, having lost interest in circulating yet another lap.  Back stiff on the surface, with a slow burn beneath.  Hamstrings about to twitch, like they expect to have to break into a run.  Film on my face, sideburns and hair at the nape of my neck  stiff and bristly from not-quite-sweating all day.  The warm sticky air sapping me.  Feeling successful: it had all gone well, but it had been demanding.

4:45 wake in anticipation, willing myself back to sleep/ 5:00 alarm going off, knowing what’s in store, hitting the snooze feigning non-chalance, “I always flirt with death, I get killed but I don’t care about it”/ 5:06 second alarm, pause over the button knowing another 6 minutes is not going to make a difference/ take a minute to rally, get up/ use the toilet/ shave, cut myself just above my upper lip, maybe it’ll stop in the shower/ in the shower, just getting clean, except a few extra moments at the end to let the water hit and warm my eyelids/ blood on the towel, cut still bleeding, pencil it with a wince, better not wear a white shirt/ deodorant and clothes/ tie came out too long, re-tie/ collect pocket stuff, where’d I leave that tie clip last night?, maybe wear a different one, no, here it is/ grab the hanger to throw in the laundry room on my way up/ glass of juice with vitamins, yogurt drink, make an espresso, how did it get that late already? 5:35? deny the rising feeling of time pressure, take my espresso to look out the front window for a few minutes to give thanks, azaleas about ready to be pruned, tree still recovering from the snows, grass pretty long already, back yard needs some attention, better put up that new mailbox first, need to remember to send the rental agreement and those bills,… no,… just stop for a moment,… listen,…/ okay, grab my lunch and phone and get going/ don’t remember the drive to work other than thinking the oil needs changing, and there’s a new sound that needs to get looked at, brake shoes maybe/ traffic is fine, in the office by 6:15 and starting to wind everything up: lights on, coffee pot, water for oatmeal, choose a station to listen to, “the summer heat has got me feeling lazy, the air is warm and the sky is hazy”, plants need watering, A/C not feeling cold enough, computer booting up and connecting/ still a half hour to get that agreement printed out and signed/ MV shows up for his 6:30 appointment, which is actually scheduled at 7, but he can’t stay to wait, okay then, at least one bite of oatmeal, I’ll get the rest at 7:00/ 7:00 arrives, and so does FK, for her appointment with MS, who’s not coming in today, so one more bite of cold oatmeal, “please suh, may I have some more?”/ 7:30 shows up on time, and as scheduled, the rest of this can go in the disposal, rinse my bowl out/ 8:00 is always early, and today it’s 7:45, might as well get her started, slip away for a second to send a good morning text/ ZC shows on time, since less than 10 minutes late is essentially on time, wants to ask about something unrelated right as we’re done/ OG hasn’t been doing what I asked him to do, wants to know why it isn’t going like I said it would, take the time to explain that merely knowing what to do is not enough/ get a moment to print out the agreement, sign it, out it in an envelope with a check – the beach place will be ready for me in 10 weeks, I’ll be ready for it in 2 days/ bringing SG back at 9:30, I scratch an itch above my lip, and the cut starts bleeding again.  Give me a minute will you? I’ll be right back, tissue, pressure, don’t try to finish too soon/ RH invited herself back and is standing over my desk waiting, your appointment’s at 10:00, yes?  Mind if I just finish a note or two?  Right, you’re in a hurry/ already have write-ups and forms left over from yesterday, now falling behind on today’s notes too, might have to come in early tomorrow/ getting asked now to do something for a colleague, why can’t they?  Who’ll be doing my work while I do that for them?  Right, I know, I’ll do it/ CC is in a room, and when I come in he makes a big show of looking at his watch, yes, I’m sorry about being 5 minutes late, you know that’s not because I don’t care.  Although it doesn’t seem like I’m able to help much anyway, but let’s talk about your other options/ SK’s here? Could you get her started for me? I’ll be out in a few minutes.  Gotta spend a little extra time with her, make sure she’s clear with everything, it’s her last appointment today/ 11:30, and it’s definitely too warm in here, little bit of sweat under my hair.  SG’s called to say she’s running a few minutes late, which gives me a 5 minute window to get to my lunch/ just remembered I need to pick up those tickets to Chicago, better call to check on them, I can pick them up after practice/ some things I wanted to get done today now going to have to get bumped into tomorrow, although tomorrow seems to have enough already, the deposit, those bills, answering that e-mail, writing about Bill’s dad, feel guilty about bumping that one/ Noon, and I forgot that JP said she was bringing someone with her, so getting all today’s stuff done, as well as re-answer the previous questions for someone new/ 12:30, KP, doing well, thankfully/ 1:00, HE, shows up at 1:15 and goes to the bathroom first, they must not have told her that my rule is > 12 minutes late=hold it/ 1:30 is on time, bounce back and forth between him and HE/ 2:00 on time, a few lines over the speakers I have to sing along with “well the D.A. was pumpin’ my left hand, and she was ahold of my right, and I told her don’t be scared…”/ looks like the day might finish on time, 2:30 on time, but has a new serious issue/ can I do something for,… No, I’m not going to get my own work done today, don’t look at me like that, you were asking me right? Not telling me?/ change in the bathroom into my coaching stuff, the drive home is memorable for long periods in traffic travelling 45 mph below the limit, get there just in time to get warm ups started/ pick up the tickets with the dust of practice still on me/ stop by mom’s on the way home, and also stop by the grocery store…/

A moment later, my eyelids lift from the blink and I’ve caught up with myself in this moment, leaning under the carport. I reach over to pick the bottle up from the roof of the car where it sits in a puddle of condensation.  Tip back for a long drink as my hair gets blown back.  Eyes close in the wind, but the flashes are so bright I still see them.  I look, and night becomes day for a moment at a time, allowing its colors to be seen for a flash before returning to grayscale.  I breathe the spray into my nostrils and smell the wet earth.  The bottleneck whistles in the wind under the loud low complaint of the air fleeing being electrified by those bolts.  Any moment now.  The quiet occasional drop becomes a loud insistent tapping on the trunk of the car hanging out from under the carport.  Large drops hit and the splash jumps up on my shins.  I finish the bottle, hold my arms out to the side, and step out from underneath…


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