PETER AND I — Or How Recovery Met Transformation
Ah, but I do recall fondly that incredible mid-summer day we buried my old first love Peter’s parents in their backyard…
I was back in our small hometown on a break from the city and we decided to celebrate the end of his ten day house arrest by building a modest pyre that would be our very late Valentine’s gift to one another.
The dawn clear and brisk as we had our morning coffee and wrapped the corpses in every newspaper in the house. Turned out to be a lot of newspaper, so we lined a swimming pool sized hole with them. We’d dug the hole the previous evening with a rented backhoe. Quite a time we had maneuvering and operating that thing…
Out of nothing we begin to have a discussion concerning alcohol while we stop for snack spread out atop a desk we built out of errant books and file stacks. The only food left in the house: peanut butter, apple slices and potato chips.
"I may not be a good person while I'm drinking. But I'm a better person afterward. Smarter. More clear, more capable. I have to be, to deal with the consequences…" He says and I nod, listening. Knowing there will be no drinking tonight.
Then he relates a tale of changing a tire on his car in the desert in nothing but a trench coat and tie. It’s the legend of a Peter from just before I knew him. Lively early chapters in another part of the country.
Steamy mid-afternoon arrived. Soaked in sweat, we took a smoke break on the roof and observed our handiwork. That's when Pete decided the house needed skylights and we took part of the roof off and threw it, too, into the pit.
Everywhere was the back lot transformed. Detritus from it and the house alighted rampantly in the rear yard amid piles of mud and roots. The litter of lives lived to the end of their usefulness.
Evening fell and the fresh fire rose — five-alarm-red and traffic-alert-orange against the sky infection green and oblivion blue. He slung his arm over my shoulder and we watched. Watching all the haunted colors together in silence.
I blinked and it was dark. Starry with no moon. The onion paper smoke tarnishing the matted velvet sky and flavoring our nostrils with a heavy musk from the fuel underneath: wood and meat.
There is always more work to do. Tomorrow Pete and I will drag the piano into the street and have a garage sale to raise money for the new pool.