(Based on a true story)
Buzzwinkle was a city moose. If Anchorage roads
were empty, he walked down the double lines;
if there was traffic, he waited & strode
through crosswalks at appropriate times.
He earned his name the night he ate fermented apples
with Christmas lights tangled in his antlers. So blitzed,
he stood right outside a local bar and blinked as baffled
patrons shuffled past to go get pissed.
April is the hardest month to be a moose, no green
for miles. He collapsed near death in an abandoned lot.
Before ravens ate his still gazing eyes and wolves ripped his lean
flanks, I arrived. The whole town heard my shot.
It’s fifty bucks to leave a moose at the dump. For free,
I chainsawed and scattered Buzzwinkle—death with dignity.
RAINA: Who’s that pretty lady on the background of your phone?
UBER DRIVER: My wife. We’ve been together for 50 years. I’m 67.
RAINA: Wow. I can’t imagine. Do you have children?
UBER DRIVER: Three boys. Before they all went to college and started their own families, we called our house “The Fraternity.” Ha. Ha. Do you have siblings?
RAINA: I have a half-brother from my dad’s first marriage. He and Larkin metat the Kosher Jewish Nursing Home where they both worked. They married within a year and had my half-brother Rob. Larkin left a few years after that. I met her at Rob’s wedding. Well, I saw her and thought about introducing myself. But what would I say? “Hey, I’m Raina. Bob’s daughter from his second marriage to Stacy. Not to be confused with Caitlin, his step-daughter from his third marriage to Carol. You haven’t been married to my dad in almost forty years, but I wanted to say hello in case you were ever curious.” Oops, I got ahead of myself. Okay, so, I was the product of my dad’s second marriage. They met swimming laps at the YMCA and were married after nine months. They separated when I was a baby. In middle school, I found their honeymoon pictures in a box in my mom’s basement. My dad had a beard back then, and my mom was so thin. I couldn’t believe how happy they looked on that beach, kissing and smiling. But right after those pictures were taken, they went back to their motel room and discovered it was infested with fleas. A pretty good metaphor for their marriage, I’d say. Anyway, right after my parents separated my dad got together with Carol. Well, my mom is convinced they got together before… my dad would go out of town for swim meets, which is how he met Carol. My dad says he never cheated on my mom, but my mom is convinced he did, especially because he started shaving his beard. My mom loves beards. Carol doesn’t. He’s shaved his beard for the 24 years he’s been with Carol, which also happens to be the entirety of my life. Carol has two sons and a daughter from her first marriage. She left the guy after he sold her car for whiskey. She couldn’t believe my dad was willing to date someone with three teenagers. My dad and Carol lived together with her kids, and baby me when I wasn’t at my mom’s, for more than a decade before they married. When I was 13, my mom, after several years of dating, married a first-grade teacher she met on Match.com who refers to himself as “Happy Man” and exclusively wears Hawaiian shirts. I inherited two much older step sisters from his previous marriage. He would still probably be married to his first wife if she hadn’t died. My mom likes to says there are many lids for every pot. She also likes to tell step-dad: “If you die first, I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you.” To me, she likes to say the key to a happy marriage is a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong engagement. Maybe someday I’ll swim through those o’s, but for now, I’ll stick to treading water.
UBER DRIVER: Good choice. Relationships are hard.
Raina K. Puels is the Nonfiction Editor of Redivider. She leaves a trail of glitter, cat hair, and small purple objects everywhere she goes. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Rumpus, PANK, The American Literary Review, Berfrois, Maudlin House, Occulum, and many other places. See her full list of pubs: rainakpuels.com Tweet her: @rainakpuels