I did a double take when I saw Coley on the city street this afternoon. I mean Coley was the last person I expected to see on a street that houses Lawyers and Doctors and Chiropractors and, as it happens, my son's school.
I was sitting in my car listening to some music, a little Miles Davis to be exact when I saw, what seemed to be someone I vaguely knew walking or should I say, hobbling down the street. I was waiting for the throng of kids to sweep out onto the street and so enjoyed the final few minutes of peace that were afforded to me. I even imitated the sax, tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. The sun beat through the window and I was grateful for my shades.
When I looked across and saw Coley I turned off the music. At least I thought it was Coley and then I dismissed it and then I removed my sunglasses and saw that it was Coley. I watched him for about thirty seconds as he took a few steps only to stop as if to plan his next move. He appeared disorientated and dazzled by the activity of the street as if the very footpath he stood on caused him pain and confusion. I immediately turned off the music and got out of the car to cross the street to where he stood.
I said; hi Coley, its me, Mary from Boleybeg.
Coley looked at me puzzled as if he never saw me in his life. I felt a little put out by that, I mean to say that I have watched Coley for years. Forever still Coley. Motionless. Like a mannequin from a store front window, in various poses I watched Coley; pitch fork on shoulder, stooped. Bale of Hay in arms, stooped. Sitting in an idle tractor, stooped. Knee deep in manure, stooped. Out in a tiny framed green field, stooped. Still life. frames. Reflective images. Coley.
Coley, it's me, I said again. Mary. The boys, remember them?
A sense of recognition came into his eyes. His suit looked splendid and I could tell that he had shaved that very morning.
Ah, it's you, he said. I was wondering who you were?
Do you want a lift home, Coley, I asked. I am just picking up my son from school. I'll drop you off, look there's my car.
Coley looked across the street at my red VW bug and a fearful cloud filled his faded grey eyes. By now the traffic's growl has grown to a crescendo and I felt that I was shouting at him.
Ah, I'm alright, he said. No thanks anyway.
I touched him on the arm then and he flinched like I had struck a match on his tweed jacket. I said goodbye and went back to the car to wait for my son.
I felt rebuked and something else that I can't express. It was like a light had gone out when you needed it most. I don't know why but I thought he did not trust me and all those years that I grew to love him seemed to fall away like apple blossom in Spring. Apple blossom. Once dampened the blossom clings to the rocks until it looks like nothing at all.