(or ‘Grandpa’s Wooden Pipe and Gunsmoke’)
Grandpa Anton, he took a match and he looked at me (I was sitting on the coach, parallel to his sofa chair, eleven years old) and he looked me, then turning away struck the match on his shoe with a quick pompous gesture, drew heavily on his wooden pipe, then at last—shot a puff of smoke into the air— and then another and another until the tobacco was red hot inside the chimney of the pipe. Satisfied, he continued on, his right hand gasping the pipe, between his index and second finger, resting the side of his palm on the sofa chair, his legs now halfway crossed, his small body pressed backward into the softness of the chair, a wee unshaven. He mumbles in a confidential tone of one who relates to an unbelievable moment of quiet—the television in front of him, no more than four feet away, he’s watching ‘Gunsmoke’ (he loves cowboy movies); it’s nine o’clock in the evening. At this moment his thumb moves, he’s checking the stuffed burning tobacco in his pipe, so do I—but from a distance. I think he sees me from the corner of his eye, trying to see the red hot burning tobacco, it’s crimson in color a sharp crimson like volcanic lava, he’s marble cold about all this, he’d be a good poker player, now that I think of it.
He lowers his pipe, leans forward, stretching his neck, his eyes fixated on the movie, looking as if for the first time.
Of me, he asks no favors, only expects me to be quiet. It always seems so desolate when he and I, and at times my older brother watch late television together. Although I get a few little pinches and pulls from, and odd looks from Mike, he gets bored easily, and then grandpa gives the evil eye to us—woops, not us, to me, his favorite is Mike.
As I look back now, I remember gazing stupidly at him, grandpa, wanting to say: ‘It’s Mike’s fault!’ but I say nothing, he’d not believe me anyhow—plus, he’d become a jerky texture of muscles, who seemingly would like to eat me up for a snack during intermission.
In any case, for this brief moment in time, Grandpa has escaped the natural world, and the entire world is better for it, especially me. Now he gets up, without a word—marble cold, ‘Gunsmoke’ is over, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that, and gets into bed—; thus, I have rendered to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
#847 (12/29/2011) cc