Laramie, still


Marc hasn’t approached such things in a very long time, having left ranches for cities decades ago.  He’s never perceived his father this way – a sodden, curled lump, a heavy heap of human – laying not far from a dissolving and evaporating campsite.  Still.

Alias ponders “still as stasis or persistence or both/and?” in his notebook in his study.  “Most often I use ‘still’ with some indication of both – stubborn, persistent, continual, unmoving – obstacles.”

Son standing over his father.  Father, fallen, humped, underfoot of son.  A stubborn statue, status, state.  Something resilient, resolute, apparently ineradicable and permanent – as far as permanence goes.

“Sons stumped by their fathers.  Fathers blocking their sons.” Alias wrote as Lucy re-entered their provisional home (what “home” is not?).

Laramie lay still, sopping, weighing more than any many should, it seemed to Marc.  Now fathering the labor of his unfortunate offspring, hovering over it/him like a bent tree, not quite as strong, but still stuck and rooted.

“The child is father to the man…still,” Alias jotted, telling Lucy that he’s stuck in the awful muddling middle of things, still wanting several things to be possible at once, believing they ought appropriately have right to be – including (but not limited to) both of their happinesses and satisfaction… fulfillments… but unable to see quite how, and for some strange reason thinking acutely of Laramie, wondering about him today – where he is and how – and all of their good, promising, talented grown children, and why they all increasingly feel alone, distant, farther from one another with age, in spite or in direct conflict with his feeling of the relative, mandatory, even necessary import and significance of these very few – very few consistent, momentous, continual and crucial relations – one another, their some sort of shared offspring or circumstanced charges, numbered friends, one another… handful of humans they ‘trust’ ‘still’ – and the vagaried ambiguity of all of these terms.

Marc stares:  his father: a persistent stasis: there, still.  His mother.  What now?  Himself?  His wife, sister, the children?  And there… here… Laramie Paul Backstagger… still.  Present.  Here.  Present.  Still.

Lucy, in annoyed concern – Alias inebriated, anxious, composing, fantastical, undone – suggests they simply call Anna or Marc, Maribel or Laramie his own self, and check in if he’s so concerned, so (“apparently”) troubled and unsettled about them.  But Alias, of course, of matter-of-course, of persistent stubborn stasis, replies, sighing: “Whatever.  I’m overwhelmed.  Over-reacting, under-developed, undone… Forget about it.  Sorry.  How was your walk – your outsiding?”

Marc prods the body with his boot.  His father weighs too much.  Too heavy.  Too absent.  Too still.  Sensei had startled his mother Maribel, returning to the ranch stables alone.  Who startled his sister Anna, startling Marc via telephone, still.  And now here, miles from anywhere, hating, prodding, regretting, wishing this sodden, sullen lump of heavy matter wasn’t his lifeless father, Laramie, his mother’s errant husband, his sister’s rugged hero, the persistent stasis of his dad.

Tension reigns, still.  Vitality.  Forces working upon and with forces.  Matter and space and energy and time, perhaps.  At the very least a conflicted Alias in tangled tango with his beloved antagonist Lucy, unaware, intuitive, confused and undone, while Marc is shoving his inert father, Maribel quivers, Anna waits, and Lucy huffs down the hall.  Life keeps pressing on and stopping, still.

7 thoughts on “Laramie, still

  1. The reading/integrating/recognizing of this, Nathan, elicits many responses and like Alias, I am undone. The first was purely visceral. Lump in throat extending to the stomach, heavy heart. The next was remembering an article (with pictures) of a Tibetan burial practice of dismembering the deceased to make the body easier as carrion for animals and birds of prey. And I thought that Laramie met a great end. Enviable even…
    I read this three times. The first time I read about Laramie. The second time about Alias. The third time as you have written it. The two different colors gave me the opportunity to make this choice. Knowing what this part of their story must be about, I was grateful to have this choice.
    And then I reflected on all the times different close friends who live at a distance have simply popped into my thoughts. They’ll call or I’ll receive some communication from them shortly after. As if we all live in a hologram of connections of relevance. There is an immediacy in the slip stream….
    Powerful writing Nathan.

  2. parents and siblings and connecting (or not) and death –it never gets easy, does it? the use of different perspectives works so well for the story. the word used by alias, “outsiding,” helps me to get a glimpse of his personality.

  3. aubrey

    This is so deep and subtle, moving with a hidden strength – like a buried river. Every current, every droplet, rings true – so unlike the many other essays I’ve read that seek to describe the movements of a grieving heart.

  4. This is beautifully worded. I like how it tumbles through thought patterns and recognizes the environment around the central figure. I hope I worded that correctly. I mean there are stories within this story. Everyone’s emotions were acknowledged. I got the sense of mass confusion and shock as well as trying to keep it together even if just by appearances. I saw some denial and confusion about a son more powerful in life than his father in death. It seems the death caused a shift in everyone’s being, that their center had just been taken, like an apple with no core.

    I hope I did not get this so wrong as to embarrass myself. It’s just that this writing is touching. It’s writing that twists to show life turned upside down, holding sign that say, what now.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit here today.

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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