"An Alternate History; That Night Vera Came Back From the Beach"
I'm not talking about what you oughtta believe - so don't go thinking that - but there are things you don't know. There aren't that many people who know the Vera that I know. So just keep in mind that there are always (at least) two different histories - the one that's revealed in photographs, and the one that's true. And yeah, I was the one sitting on her porch that night.
"This Fine Chrysler Revisted (Jane in Paducah)"
We sleep at roadside motels you and me do. We roll on through this western Kentucky in a baby-puke-green convertible chrysler my old man gave me for graduation. But when you kiss me like that it makes this smell build up in my nose - this scary smell like those first really cold days of fall when you can tell it's not kidding. I got on a peach negligee over my favorite lacy black tights and you and me we're drinking George Dickel out of the bottle into our mouths and right down into our upset little stomachs.
"Decay and Rust; Ivelisse in an Abandoned Mill off Route 522"
I dig upwards with teeth and fingernails. I force my head through moldy floorboards. Pigeons flap. Mice scatter. I listen for your gears turning but the only sound is the November rain dripping through a rotten roof. So I turn a dial. I flip a switch. I open a valve, and listen to machines cough rattle and sputter, then grind rasp and collapse. The power's on but all that's left of you here are vandalized rooms and rusted gears.
"Kate Having Ice Maker Fantasies Again"
Whenever I need to go to the mall, I stop at that little convenience store about a half mile down the hill. They have a shuttle that will take you up there. You go in, and walk in the back room where the little hallway is, open up the ice maker and sit in it. The bottom of the ice maker gives way and you fall through the trap door onto the back porch. The driver helps you to your feet and opens the door of the station wagon and drives you up to the mall. I can never remember how you get back but somehow it always works out.
"Vera on Her Way to My House"
This road, you see, it rides right over me. Over top of me like some lover who just won't listen. Won't listen to a damn thing I say. So I ride along this road with all my senses turned off while you sing loud. You sing too damn loud the praises of some other summer.
"A Change of Scenery; Martha Near Where She Grew Up"
Trees, they're always moving. People have it confused, wondering whether that falling oak makes a noise when they're not around to hear it, but the trees know it's not just about the falling. Sure, they sway in the winter winds, smaller ones moving every which way, bigger ones subject only to the serious gusts. And we see that. And maybe hear it if we get still. But we don't see them get up in the middle of the night and walk around. They change places. They hike up hillsides. They walk to the other side of the forest, even. Like me, trees sometimes need a new vantage point.
"Just Another Day on the Roof; Martha on a Sunny Day"
In her dream, Martha is a cartoon character. In tonight's episode, Animated Martha is the one who finds Astro's body, and even though this is her first day at Spacely Sprockets, for some reason she's the one who has to tell Elroy Jetson the sad news. She's sad for them, but also thinks the family rather predictable, except for George, who she finds surprisingly thoughtful and handsome. In real life, Martha sits on her boyfriend's roof alone except for powdered sugar donuts and bourbon.
"Squeaky and Clean; Jane at the Palm Leaf Motel"
She sings real good harmony but for some reason she can't ever quite find the melody. Me and Marina we got that sweet kind of soreness deep deep in our bones that comes from having just one sip too much bourbon one too many nights in a row. I'm in an imitation La-Z-Boy and she sleeps at my feet on cheap motel shag carpeting.
"Once in Tennessee (Sleepy Time Motel Lorraine)"
Motels sleep - sometimes for generations at a time - and then awaken all at once in the middle of the night with a start, stumbling up and stubbing their toes on their way to the bathroom. So you just relax. Just keep your eyes on what you think is holy and don't be looking for ways out of here.
"Interacting With the Public Can be so Draining (Alice After Work)"
Alice works weekends at the museum of wild animals who have been trained to play possum on command. She doesn't actually train them but is a tourguide who talks about each animal and its personality. People often ask her why the museum doesn't have actual possums but Alice always ignores the question and instead tells the story about Rory the iguana who loves concord grapes.
"Not Quite Washed Away; Jane in a Different Hurricane"
Jane lies silently in an ugly beach hotel room, remembering a different beach hotel room. There was a hurricane going on outside, and she and her lover were taking polaroids of each other dressed in various hats and sometimes bedsheets. The hotel moved in the wind.
But being at the beach is not like being anywhere else. The ocean eats away at everything near it, not just the shore. So she lies her little head next to mine and feels the slow grind of this hotel as it slides slowly downhill towards the sea.