Some days are better than others...and others...
Some days he can talk. This is not one of those days. He holds a chop stick, broken in half and taped together for thickness, and he holds it like a wand; a baton. Slowly, but sometimes in a quick jerk, he moves the wand over a board printed with letters and a few words. He spells what he means to say.
The wand moves slightly left. “Yes?” I ask. The wand relaxes.
I recall a line from, “Racetrack Lore,” a short story of his I’d read years ago in Esquire or Harpers, long before it became a best selling novel, long before the movie. He had written, “Gratten sat, his spirit deflating; the pressure in his soul leaking out, almost audibly. To echo the sound of his soul, Gratten sighed.” Now he manages, “I tired.”
I chat a plain chat with him. Things that require no response. I pack my interview notes and my unused tape recorder. He watches; his eye muscles are still working. I stop chatting. I am wondering what scene he’s writing in his head. What kind of drilling insight would he jam into a dozen words to describe my leaving? I think, “What would he say?” And then the thought follows, “…if he were alive.”