Mar 15, 2007

A picnic on a Monday

He walked ahead of the others, carrying the quilt. It was folded and bulky in his arms and in the light of mid-Monday, the gray light of clouded spring, it was colorless. He held the quilt to his belly and walked apart from the two women so you couldn't be sure they were following.

They followed him, weaving a slight stagger through the short brown grass. The blonde woman carried a brown bag. The brunette woman carried three white styrofoam cups. What the hell, said the blonde. Where the hell are you going.

He didn't say anything, and they followed him and called at him and one laughed and he ignored them like they might ask for money.

The grass smelled of bugs breaking out of winter. Small black birds walked their way up and down in rows, back and forth like mowers.

The man laid the blanket down and laid down. He went to his stomach and put his head on a fist. His shirt edged up his back. He was too fat for his shirt. The women surround him, one on each side, and abandoned themselves to the quilt-covered ground. The blonde put the brown bag down. The brunette unstacked the cups, one, two, three. Like the picnics of proper children: a pantomime.

The man moved off his elbow and shuffled a hand into the bag, moving it around in a rustle and coming out with energy drinks in three tin cans. He set them next to the cups and the brunette and the blonde laughed loudly.

The brunette sat cross legged and pulled the bottle out of the bag. A half gallon clear plastic bottle of clear vodka.

A small bird worked at the upper roots of a weed. The weed hadn't bloomed, on the Monday, and was just a spot of green. The bird poked around it, on the one side and then the other, opening up the dirt and the top layer of hair-line roots. The bird opened them up to the air in a revelation and then, then, the weed slowly tipped over and died.

On the sidewalk at the other end of the grass a woman jogged three dogs on three leashes. A dogwood tree flowered.

No, said the blonde. I don't like that stuff. It tastes awful. The man said what do you want to mix it with. It's all we bought. The blonde said I'll just drink. The brunette pulled at the bottle by the neck, hoisted it up with a hand and passed it over the man's back to the blonde.

And they lay there on a Monday in the spring into their 30s.