Affinity Excerpt – Watching the Homeless

Aug 11, 2015 by

Hey Everyone,

We’ve been touting today as the release date of the print copy of Affinity: an Anthology.  Unfortunately we’ve run into a last minute delay.  We are working hard to have it ready to go by Friday.  I’ll update you all on the status as it moves along.

In the meantime, here’s another teaser from the book.  It’s the intro to my story, Watching the Homeless, loosely based on a period of time when I lived in Guerneville, CA.  Hope you enjoy…

Watching the Homeless

Alan Wright

We lived in a little town underneath the redwoods in northern California. We’d been married a couple of years and had moved around before settling into a fairly easy way of living. Like a lot of northern CA, it is both idyllic and psychotic, the inhabitants are beautiful and haggard, the sun shines in between bouts of fog, and the forests give shelter to the many transients and homeless people who find their way beneath the canopy and never leave.

The open field behind our apartment was where they settled and played during the day. It was close to town and the grocery store. They’d come back with 40s of Cobra, never enough for a full day, just a couple at a time, pacing themselves. They’d drink liquor as the sun receded behind the clouds. Those with children would head off to the one shelter in town; the others would slip off into the woods for a night of drinking and fighting, eventually crawling into the bushes and their makeshift shelters.

I played guitar in the back bedroom, looking out the window, watching the daytime drama unfold and play out in front of me. I was in between jobs and feeling bad my wife was doing all the work while I stayed home and cleaned, drank and played guitar. I did whatever I could to avoid the writing I told myself I was going to do, that I told myself I couldn’t do while holding down a job. Watching them made me feel better about myself.

Living right beside a huge stand of redwoods, we often went for walks. One day we discovered an outdoor church. Right there in a clearing. Pews cut from thick redwood, enough for a good sized parish, a stage and alter carved from stone and trees. The earth was hard and clear of leaves, needles and the detritus of a shedding forest. It was bare and humble, sacred in its austerity. We wandered aimlessly, touching everything as we passed. We walked the aisles in separate directions, occasionally passing and touching hands, smiling.

We met again by the altar, facing each other and stopped. We looked into each other’s eyes and then up towards the sky. It had taken on an afternoon grey and as I looked up through the clearing, it looked as if the trees brushed right up against it. I kept staring, holding her hands and feeling her heart beat. The difference between the clouds above me and the dirt I was standing on started to lose its footing. I let it slide as I closed my eyes and felt it hum. So much bigger than anything I could imagine. We were so much bigger than anything I could imagine.

I felt myself starting to tilt over backwards, and from the pulling on my hands I could tell she was, too. I opened my eyes to see her laughing as she started to pull us into a spin, I pulled her to me and wrapped her in my arms, never breaking eye contact, at least not until we started to kiss. But that was only for a minute, and then we were laughing and running into the woods, chasing each other down the root broken trail, jumping over rocks and hiding behind trees. We stumbled through a soft patch of dirt and tumbled over each other into some hollowed out low lying brush.

We sat, panting and giggling, while I pulled out the joint I had rolled before the walk. She leaned over and kissed my neck before resting her head on my shoulder as I lit and inhaled, breathing in deep before holding it to her lips and letting her do the same. We did that for a while, letting our heartbeats settle and our breathing slow. I laid my head on hers and closed my eyes, enjoying the quiet moment.

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