Pedascule moves like the pull of gravity across the dulled yellow striped concrete. He’s smooth, to be sure, he’s like his own music – like a river’s quick ripple, like a fresh-shinned tree branch, like f prime of three equals the limit of three plus h (the quantity squared) minus nine the quantity over h as the limit of h approaches zero – a beautiful music of theory, a prone and infinite S, a moaning bent back. Smooth, he sits hunched over a thick, pewter, roommate’s-graduation-gifted flask with a quote from ancient philosophy about rivers and valleys and the way we approach the world, written in Hindu, he thinks, he remembers his roommate saying, as the rum rolls across his palm and onto the parking lot. Close enough. The quick evaporating alcohol floats from his pale, slim fingers, his hand of a thousand books. He tugs the bottle to his mouth and moves it to his trunk as his door slams smooth and he gas-pedals smooth off towards this mythical around the bend he’d been fingered towards moments ago. With the back of his hand, he wipes the slim-dripping drop of rum from his smooth chin, rubs his cheeks and thinks about shaving again, not today, though, maybe tonight.
Five miles down this bright whitey-gray and winding Pennsylvania off-the-beaten-road road, he skids into a gravelled and spring-puddled parking lot and out of his car and skids into the stool farthest from the darkest dark corners of this dark dark bar, a stool amid-stream a flotsam of flannelled and smokey-bearded men and saggy women. Pedascule, B.S., builder of immaculate and unyielding cardboard bridges, pushes a bill across the bar with a serious downward tilt of his head, loosens his tie and asks if he can buy a drink for anybody who would celebrate a college graduation. Gas money made good. He lights a smoke, throws the pack on the bar, chalks a cue, racks the table, shoots a game, shoots some whiskey, shakes hands and hands, and stretches the cue above his head and behind his back as the flannel shirts and smokey and sagging men and women ebb and flow through his five-year triumph as the country-musicking jukebox shatters his hold on the future as he dances and breaks and sinks another eightball and downs another beer and downs another beer and buys another round and looks forward to this very moment in his life. He reemerges into the same bright fecund day, the dark green Jetta meets him in the gravel, his tie stays behind, wrapped around a sagging and flannelled and warm and lithe woman who promised him three wishes if he would just stay with her forever. The country music twangs stilly into the distance as the heavy wooden door closes on that world forever, goodbye, forever, thinks Pedascule, farewell, forever. Though he can’t be sure about the future, he only knows that this point, “p,” where he stands doesn’t allow for his presence inside the bar as well as outside. Though he can’t be sure about the future, if the past is any indication of how the present will pass, goodbye. Forever. A single bead of sweat shatters the puddle beside the driverside door and the world opens into itself.
Pedascule leans an elbow on the open driverside door and pisses into the impenetrable Pennsylvania forest – a bush, a shrub, an Ash, a Maple – canopies from years and years of forest. When the cop slows along the road to account for the not-from-around-here Jetta, Pedascule raises his arm and smiles and thumbs-up and the cop drives off. A damned good day. Pedascule slams his palm on the c.d. player and the angsty pumping punk crashes into thin air. He lights a smoke and moves – right arm left leg, left arm right leg, and again. And he’s flailing in place bobbing his head. Skanking into the brand new day. He pulls the flask from his pocket, still skanking, and twists the cap and the rum hits the back of his throat from two feet above his head. He’s a television commercial, selling himself to the world. If life were like me, you wouldn’t have to buy anything, but, because it’s not, drink rum. “Yeah, yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah . . . uhm.”