Tag Archives: novel excerpt

Excerpt: AH HERE WE GO — Tehachapi Loop


Timothy Bowles. Age 47, Tehachapi CA.

When you see the name of an almost lover on the manifest of an airplane crash on CNN.com, you suck in air.

In Joan’s case, it was a hexagon of Krab in a supermarket salad which smacked her epiglottis when she gasped, hard, during a late lunch break. She’d heard about the Snowqualmie Air crash on NPR en route to work. And then, this afternoon, the map of the route ending near Point Mugu, eyewitnesses, passenger list.

Joan always scanned such lists.  She read obits. She read legal notices and the Pennysaver and cereal boxes.  Joan was never not reading. This was her method of anxiety management.

So, Timmy Bowles, there you are.  47, Tehachapi.  Hello. Why were you flying to Portland? And alone. How did you afford a vacation in what, Cabo? I thought that for you it was Paris or nothing.  And look at this.

An ending that is royally not good. That is what happened to you.

Damn.  Tim Freaking Bowles. She tossed the food, sat still, put her head in her hands for a moment because she thought it appropriate, then called her college roommate, to whom she told everything, even though said college roommate was presently drenched day and night with Courvoisier.

Remember that schmuck in Tehachapi? That lying sack of shit with the photographic memory of Pound and Lowell? The guy who reeled off The Waste Land on my voicemail, while no doubt shopping solo for marital groceries, when it was safe to communicate with the women he told he was single?  Oh, let’s not forget the long aerobic walks in the dead of night in the foothills of Tehachapi. That’s when he’d call me. Huffing and panting on his trusty Walmart throw-and-go phone.

Yeah, said her roommate, slurring per usual.  I remember.  Wow.  He is really, like, dead?

© Anne Isaaks, 2012. All rights reserved.

Tehachapi Loop, a railroad marvel, Tehachapi CA

Excerpt: AH HERE WE GO

Crumbling is not an instant’s Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation’s processes
Are organized Decays.

‘Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust—

Ruin is formal—Devil’s work
Consecutive and slow—
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping—is Crash’s law.

Emily Dickinson

**********

The last time they sat still on the earth.

Ground crew jumpsuited, swathed in ear protection–muffs that I now know are called Mouse Ears, and why did they choose Cabo and not Disney why oh why oh why — and a glaze of forehead sweat. The last level ground they trod on. They shared the tarmac with jumpsuits orange blue and white, name tags sewn on (Pablo, Javier) and the alpine logo of Snowqualmie Air.  The jumpsuits dragged away the staircase they shuffled up step by step, a long line of boarding. Seventy-two pairs of feet, a total of 148 individual metatarsals. A slow conga up the stairs. Sunburned, in some heads of hair a slight crunch of sand. The carry-ons, the magazines, the breakable souvenirs, the children hoisted or held by the hand. The jumpsuits felt hunger, their meal break delayed. These men were not union, which is how this happened, the loss of lunch. They, on the other hand, boarded well fed, bloated with the salt of a fajita-and-margarita diet. Camarones, sweet rolls from the hotel panaderia.  Vacation, vacances, vacaciones. Waistbands biting into bellies, gym time anticipated. Courtesy and patience as their shoes touched each riser. More a ladder than a stairway.

Don’t you dare say, To Heaven.

The hatch on the cabin door locked with suction.

The pilots’ sunglasses, polarized, buffed with lens cleaner and a square chamois with pinked edges.

Settling, arranging, clicking.

We have all boarded planes.  We leave on jet planes and always think we know precisely when we’ll be back again.  We worry about turbulence, wind shear, box cutters, pulmonary emboli, delays, jihad.  We strap in and buckle up.  We know the bustle, the sounds, hint of coffee, metal rumbles in the galley.

They were mine; how did this happen, the loss of children?

© Anne Isaaks, 2011. All rights reserved.