Tellers in rank at the bank counter, each of them unaware of the vault teller, the one who feeds the tellers, behind them destroying credit cards over a trash bin, and she cries:
“Just chopped off the top of my finger!”
One of the tellers overhears something and turns around. “What did you say?” he asks. The other tellers remain oblivious.
“I chopped off the top of my finger…well, at least I found it,” she replies, cradling her hand in a saturated napkin. The fingertip is nestled in its folds. The vault teller retreats to the manager’s office, and the women inside gasp and cry out.
“The bleeding won’t stop! Who has a car close by?”
A third of the staff pile into a common car and rush the vault teller off to the hospital. She doesn’t return with them.
Black nightime and we’re falling through membranes of sleep. A cat, the cat, cries at the window to be let in. I throw the covers off and swing a leg out of bed. No lights, indoors or out. The cat comes in and I wonder if he’s eaten. He beelines for his food dish and so naked I fetch a can of cat food from the kitchen. I flip the dining room light. In his mouth: an adolescent rabbit saying nothing at all. Sigh.
I peel the lid and dump the food in the bowl, offering the cat a choice. He waffles, finally stowing the rabbit. He tends to it before he goes for the food dish, patting it and nuzzling it. He lets go and I clear him away with my foot. The rabbit I pick up by the loose skin along his spine and take him into my bedroom. She is beneath the covers of my bed, at whose foot I stand offering the silent rabbit in the air. A piece of leaf is stuck to its eye.
“Lookee here,” I say. Groggily she shifts to see me in the dark.
“What is that?”
“It’s a rabbit,” I say, silhuoetted against the streetlight filtering through the blinds.
An old man stopped us as we were walking in the street.
“There have been folks in my line who’ve lived to be over one hundred years old in fact we’ve traced (my brother has traced) our geneology back to 1400 in Eggleston, England you know, our name’s etymology is Eccles’Home, “Eggleston”, right, so the Eggleston who first came to America decided to leave the UK when he was 59 years old, which in those days meant “borrowed time” and his four sons said they wouldn’t come along on the trip, “old man the voyage will kill you” they said and so when he landed he sent four letters and they arrived in Eggleston, Virginia not long after and as time went on they moved further into the midwest, “and here you are” I said and he said “here I am” and now I’ve been sober for 21 years (since I was 49) and I’ll be seventy this year just got a titanium hip ten weeks ago and lemme tell ya things have changed, son, i mean they used to have to slice straight through the muscles in your buttocks (there are a lot of ’em, because that part has to hold everything else up) but now they just have this godforsaken spreader and they just peel the muscles apart and get right down to the top of your femur and while you’re zonked out of your skull on shots, oh what, an epidural, I think, and I could have been over in the park dancing naked with you (and your girl, too, if we’re lucky)and then they saw off the part of the femur they want to replace and go in with a grinder and grind your hip socket smooth and in that hour they make sure that the replacement will be able to move in every direction you’ll ever need it to and it’s not painless, no, it swells up something fierce the next day, and I mean everything swells up but the procedure took an hour and a half and I was up walking later that day, better than before and I asked the doctor how many years that ought to shave off my life expectancy and they couldn’t believe I was 69 so he said at this point it’d only take off about five years so i might not live to see 110 but 103’s in range but I’m lucky to have gotten this far, man, I almost bit it in Vietnam, I mean, had I ever gotten there I’d have gone down with the rest of the 30% or so of the boys from my town who didn’t come back, you see, in the draft they assigned you a number and it was numeric the way they called you so if you started number 25 and thirteen got called all of a sudden you’d be in the next batch if they called the next twelve so I came in 38th and finally one day my mother, who was friends with the recruiter who knew the numbers, she found out I was number 2 and she called me and said no way was I dying in a goddamn rice paddy in Vietnam, she’d drive me to Canada herself and she never drove a lick before and I told it just wouldn’t work so I worked to get into the Reserves and two days after I got in the letter arrived in my mother’s mailbox but it was sent three days prior and so I had just gotten in but the next day my Reserve unit was called so for the next year I bounced from base to base getting trained and after that year I found myself floating on the Pacific toward that Hell-hole when it came over the wire that the war was over so we turned right around there in the middle of the ocean and came home, but if you’ve ever visited the Memorial, that huge wall of pure onyx, they list the names by the town and date about half the guys that went in that wave I should have gone in didn’t make it back, man, I saw their names and I couldn’t even cry out loud I just choked and choked, son, I couldn’t look at it because really I should have been on that list but here I am, sober for 21 years and equipped with a new hip but now I’ve got diabetes, you see that tremor in my hand, that comes around when I’m low on sugar so if you see me and I’m shaking you better toss me a banana chip or one of these dried golden raisins but if I’m sweating you’ll know I’ve had too much sugar so watch out in those cases but I see you’re busy, I’m probably boring you to death but my wife and daughter are out of town and if you’re interested in buying a house in the neighborhood you ought to see my handiwork because there are NO jobs right now and I’ve done a lot of work inside my house, well, you ought to come in and see it but if the front door’s locked we might not be able to get in and yep, it’s locked so maybe some other time but really you ought to stop by later…”
“Thanks, Mr. Eggleston,” we chimed and walked off, totally deflated.