Mel Bosworth ~ Calling Hours

I ran by Bob’s grave this morn­ing. He died on September 10th, 2016. He was only thir­ty some­thing. On his grave were some fake flow­ers and a small, stuffed Ninja tur­tle. Raphael, I think. It had red armbands.

Bob lived in the house across the street with his mom and step­dad when we were at our old apart­ment. He died on the side­walk in the next town over. I have an image in my mind of him lay­ing flat on his back on that side­walk. It’s night­time and he’s lit by street­lights. He’s wear­ing white shoes and his clothes are clean. He’s wear­ing a jack­et too, maybe. He’s very still.

Bob’s step­fa­ther was the one who told us that he had died. His moth­er had health prob­lems of her own. They removed her colon around that time. I think they lost a dog, too. But they got anoth­er dog: Jerry.

Bob had a daugh­ter, too, but I think we learned that after he died. Maybe from his obit.

Bob liked to play fris­bee on the street with his friend. His friend used to come down on a bicy­cle and he’d have a fish­ing pole, too. He and Bob would sit on the porch drink­ing Natty Daddy and then they’d play fris­bee on the street.

One time the fris­bee land­ed in our lit­tle gar­den out front, and I yelled down at Bob from the win­dow. Bob mum­bled that he was sor­ry, and he gin­ger­ly removed the fris­bee from the embrace of a kale plant.

I don’t think I yelled too harsh­ly. I think I tried to yell fun­ny to dis­guise my anger. My head out the win­dow through clenched teeth: “Watch the god­damn garden.”

I liked Bob. But I want­ed to pro­tect the gar­den, too. It was small, and hid­den behind a small hedge that went along the side­walk for maybe ten feet.

After Bob died, and after we moved off that street three years lat­er, our old land­lords tore up our lit­tle plot and paved it over. I think they got rid of the hedge, too. Now it’s all paved: side­walk, dri­ve­way, spot where the old gar­den was. We res­cued the laven­der, though, and plant­ed it in our new yard behind some Japanese orna­men­tal shrub that was already here.

The laven­der is strug­gling now, four years on, but it’s still alive. It’s not get­ting great sunlight.

There are lessons here, and parallels.

The men­tal image of Bob on the side­walk has become a sort of false mem­o­ry that’s hard­en­ing into some­thing real. I can’t see his face, skin­ny and pale with kind but fad­ing eyes, but I know it’s him. I’ve come to visit.


Mel Bosworth is the author of the nov­el Freight. He lives in Western Massachusetts.