LETTER TWENTY-FOUR

June 9, 2016
My Desk, New York

Dear Sal,

It’s quarter to eight on a blue-sky Thursday morning, and I don’t much feel like writing.

I’m not entirely sure why, but all this week I haven’t felt much like doing anything. I think maybe I’m coming down from having a really pleasant week, last week. Or, I don’t know, maybe I’ve got an early summer cold. Either way it’s been a sort of absent lethargy for a while now. I haven’t been sleeping that well either. I’ve had little affairs with insomnia before, and I can feel one coming. Anyway, next time we talk I’m sure I’ll be all sorted.

When did I last write? While I was in Beacon? That feels like a lifetime ago. Really it does. Maybe you get like this too, but when I look backward at my life being eighteen feels like it was just yesterday, but this past February feels like it was years ago. Time is weird.

As for breaking and entering, I am not sure if I’ve ever told you this but my mother, sweet woman that she is, is very fond of a little light B&E. My mother is, at the level of her soul, an adventurer. She (and because of her so do I), loves old buildings, abandoned places, backrooms, doors left slightly a jar. I remember one time we were on a tour of a very famous historical building and she decided that the tour wasn’t for us. Instead, what we should do is just go around trying doors and seeing what mischief we could get ourselves into. If we got caught—she was a middle-aged single mother on a tour with her son, and can you believe it, we got separated from the group, silly us, but these old buildings, you know, so many halls and so easy to get turned around…  Another time she was out driving along a country road—I wasn’t with her then—and she found an old farm. No one was there and it was clearly not in use, the kind of building that’s teetering on the boundary between shabby and derelict. What does she do? She drives up and spends an hour looking around and exploring that empty farm. God love her.

When I was fifteen or sixteen, and enjoyed doing a little exploration of my own. I remember asking her if she’d be mad if she ever had to pick me up from jail because I’d gotten myself in trouble skulking around some private property. She said that as long as I was just looking around and not causing any trouble, she wouldn’t mind. I think she would have made a wonderful outlaw.

So this one night, me and my old brother, you know the one—this is of course years ago, back before he became the wandering road prince he is now, back when we were boys and still friends—we were exploring around this construction site. It was all skeleton-houses and massive holes in the earth. We found bits of broken glass as big as our fists—looked like huge sapphires. A year later that place would become a new subdivision, but when we were there it was just us—just two boys exploring an empty neighbourhood—our flashlights casting long shadows over the very walls where soon enough a hundred families would eat dinner and watch television and live lives that we would never know—and they would never know that before them, before their lawns grew in, before their walls were even painted, we had been there. It was harmless, we were just adventures, little rogues, not causing any trouble or anything, but still we were in a place we probably shouldn’t have been. Anyway, I guess someone saw our lights and called the police because soon there were sirens. You know people, they see lights and shapes moving around in the night and they think the worst. We had to run through the construction site, our flashlights off (but we knew it better than any cop), and then vanish among the trees and in the ravine that boarded the new subdivision. I got home, dirty shoes and grass stains down one leg, where I had slid down a hill and hidden from the police. My old mum never minded.

I haven’t thought about that in a long time. A really long time. And thinking about it now is really making me smile. I guess that’s one of the nice things about writing. Anyway…

I hope you’re well, and I hope everything in you’re life is good. Know that I miss you, friend, and that we’ll talk soon.

Henry

P.S. I think I still have the sapphires.