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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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A BEAUTIFUL TYDE

 

by Anders M. Svenning

 

 

Chuck Palmer dances across the street toward East Sachson, jubilant in his thin Under Armour shirt and slacks.  He has decided, They are good people.  That they live forever in the mural doesn’t mean that they are perfect, but those on the walls—those people on the mural, illustrated by tiny squares of tile and distinguished by strips of vertical and horizontally intersecting grout—are handsome.

 

The half a dozen men on the wall in Downtown Sachson are immortal and handsome.  It’s like these people could just walk right off the tiles and onto the street, and get a cup of coffee, growing into four-dimensions—up, forward, right, and in—and they live!  Just past the small playhouse pre-school, past the Formatta Teahouse on the right, across the street from the courthouse, which follows the Teahouse, Chuck Palmer dances up to a house where they live, a house with small palmettos and children’s toys strewn across an un-manicured lawn. A man answers the door, to whom Palmer introduces himself, and the man who has answered looks at this Palmer estranged, wondering who or why or how this man has found him, because it’s not like anyone knows he’s here, why he’s here, he’s stumbling.

 

            “Name’s Palmer,” Palmer says.  “Chuck Palmer.”

 

            The Black man says, “Tyde,” holding out his hand.

 

            Chuck Palmer chokes on his words, looking for breath in which to speak so he finally says, “I’ve found you!”; it seems this man, this Tyde is pulling at his skin; it’s tightening; it’s like he is something higher; and behind Tyde is a sliding glass door, across the living area, across which a reflection is being cast around Tyde like a white and blue corona, contrasting the light mocha of the man’s skin—Tyde—who is remembering, This is my home and why?  Palmer states, “I’m interested how you’ve achieved your success.”  Thinking, he is ready to learn.  Tyde replies, “Why are you here, really?”  To which Palmer says, “Do you know how to fish?”  To which Tyde says, “I know how to fish, and you have to get out of here, sir,” closing the door.  And Palmer, in his slacks and smooth collared shirt and clean skin, stops the door from closing with a palm thrust, and says “Tyde, you are a beautiful man.”  Tyde looks at him and shakes his head, thinking, Wow, this is the country we live in; and he closes the door slowly and watches Chuck Palmer’s eyes slip away back into themselves through the closing line of the door.

 

            The porch is dirty, long beams of wood comprising the deck on which Palmer stands and stands much too long.  And Tyde is watching him through the slit venetian blinds, behind the walls and the translucent windowpane, which has not been cleaned in months, in the protection of his own home, where he and his family have lived for years.  And he watches Chuck Palmer turn and walk away, down the street toward the river and Downtown Sachson.  Chuck Palmer is walking over the child toys strewn and from the back Tyde can see the tattered hem of his pants and the wrinkled fabric of his shirt and the mangy hair on his head, and he calls over his daughter, this Tyde, and says, “Look girl, see that man?  Handsome isn’t he?”  He paused and breathed, “A very handsome man.”