The Dodgers games were certainly grand. Chavez Ravine—masses of blue and white, towels waving, peanut shells a cracking carpet. Horse races at Hollywood Park much of the same—rushing clops, dirt as jet streams, and Grandpa’s smile as Here Comes the Bride placed. There were prime rib dinners with his friends from the Elks, too—beef so big the waiter’s hands trembled as he set down the plates. Laughs, heavy and deep, when I smeared horseradish on my roll, mistaking it for creamy butter. These are the memories my grandfather worked to have me remember. But I miss the humdrum moments, because there were more of those, like studying him as he stuffed his pipe, listening to him swear at the coffee pot each morning, and savoring his snores from the neighboring bedroom. Dry cleaning, post office visits, the smell of cheap stew meat drifting through the apartment air. A Tuesday in November when we didn’t know exactly how to spend our time, but knew we would be together, and that we would figure out something. There was a ballgame on channel nine. Leftover oak logs in the garage too. A new story to be told, about the war, that I was supposed to remind him to tell me. I had probably heard it. It was most likely the one about the Yankee Division training before the air attack in Poland. But it would be nice to hear it again. Maybe the colors of the planes would change this time—red instead of gray—and maybe, in this version, his parachute wouldn’t open until he was even closer to the ground. It was always a new, old story. Always told between pitching changes late in the game.
The author of two collections of poetry, two children’s titles, a short-story collection, and a recent novel, Mathieu Cailler is the winner of the Shakespeare Award, the Short Story America Prize, the New England Book Festival Poetry Prize, and the Los Angeles Book Festival Award. His work has appeared in numerous national and international publications, including The Saturday Evening Post and the Los Angeles Times. For more information, please visit mathieucailler.com.
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