ALICIA'S 'SIGHTINGS & DISCOVERIES' IN "DISPLACED" (novel in progress - draft scene) ...
Alicia Lys looked at her keyboard, listening to Stephens typing across from her at their cabin’s dining bar. Maybe a blog, she thought, mine, my thoughts about the hopes and aspirations and needs of others. Is that too overarching, too presumptuous? I want to go back to doing small-scale social-justice work, local, but remain informed of the broader issues, in touch with the global. And I want to talk about it. A blog. What can I call it?
She looked out the window into the field. A blue jay swooped past. In the distance she could see a grazing doe, nuzzling the ground, the underbrush. In the sky, clearing to a vibrant blue, a contrail formed from a high-flying jet plane. “I wonder how ‘Sightings & Discoveries’ plays?” she asked herself.
“What?” Stephens asked.
“Talking to myself,” Lys said. Stephens nodded.
Oh, I know there’s a glut of blogs, Lys thought. Gil has one he occasionally posts in, so few viewers, so little attention, and that most likely will be true of mine. But is it futile?
Lys typed these thoughts as a note to launch her blog. She continued.
He thinks it’s his age, too, that age limits the reception. I’m now 58, he’s 73. Is there an audience for our concerns? It matters, to me, to him. And since I’ve rediscovered writing, I’m inspired, knowing how almost impossible it is to gain “traction,” as Gil calls it. To find and develop my own voice.
I know, too, that I want to start a small enterprise, maybe with Jack Hoffman and the church he’ll inherit. It’s not far from here. I’d like to bring meals to the homebound again who don’t get enough to eat, whose nutritional needs aren’t met. This is what brought us together, Gil and me, though little did we understand it at the time and through all the confusion that ensued afterward, the mix of relationships, the separations and rearrangements of lifestyles, of sexual identities and preferences, of the work we’ve undertaken, the risks, the threats, the attacks.
That time in Spain, when we found ourselves together in Madrid, when I confronted him with the reality we had both been experiencing, the reality of each other as partners. But I digress.
The meals effort, those who received them, their struggles, their living conditions. I’ll detail a couple we wrote about.
* An aged woman who was left to live in a shed, from Pennsylvania, whose son set up the dwelling before he went into prison, arranged with a rural roughneck who quarried for bluestone shale. This son a twin whose brother also was in prison as a result of a tavern brawl in which the brother killed their father by hitting him on the head with a bar stool. The first brother refused to testify against the second brother, skipped a court hearing, and was imprisoned awhile for contempt of court. I imagine the second brother is still behind bars. I brought the woman food and helped expose her plight. The result: She was granted comfortable lodging in a senior-citizens home.
* Another aged woman who lived in a decrepit camper, who couldn’t see well, thoughts mixed up at times, heating the camper with her propane stove, stuffed toilet that Gil unplugged so she wouldn’t have to walk into woods behind her place to relieve herself, the stepmother of a man who was on the Village of Roosevelt planning board, almost completely disenfranchised. We exposed her conditions and those of others like hers in a series of articles in the weekly Roosevelt Courier when it was operated by Todd Redding, reluctant journalist, now retired. “The Hidden Elderly.” Not so hidden, but there are more.
Maybe I can persuade Prudence to be part of this. She’s been so quiet and subdued since Willard’s accident and death. Still manages the goat dairy and chickens’ egg production as well as keeps her commitment to counseling at the juvenile detention center.
My sociology and social practices background plays into all this. I feel I need to make some money, too, several of us are jobless in a way, Cecilia and Marcia both out of work and heading to New Jersey to help in the superstorm relief, Gil on Social Security and his small pensions from journalism and church work. Prudence, too, though she has some money from Willard’s life insurance.. Penelope’s husband is a carpenter, has a steady income even though he freelances, he’s an exception. Helen Rice works at SUNY-Oquaga, as will Sandra, with Gasson as an adjunct, while Helen’s partner Anna pots. Exceptions, then, too. This odd extended family, maybe I can call it that. But I need to find some work. Maybe in a community college setting.
“Now can I post this?” Lys asked aloud.
“You want me to proof it,” Stephens smiled.
“Thanks, Gil. But I think I’ll post it raw.”