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Easter Furlough

Easter Furlough

by Laurence Foshee

Three months before I heard about his funeral, three weeks too late—and three days before the Poway Synagogue Shooting where 30 miles away and three summers earlier I’d started a 3,000-km group cycling trip—my neighbor David (nearly thrice my age) stopped by. I was on work furlough from the Tulsa B’nai Emunah’s kosher kitchen. He’d often stand outside my apartment to borrow my phone or palaver. That night he jumped tracks from his usual: from the infection and poor circulation in his legs (or his dysthymia), to venting a torrid three-year emotional affair within the gray area between returned and unrequited.

I told him that in year three of my Möbius Strip swooning, to tease out sense to life (and because I neither owned a car nor could afford a bus ticket), I traveled on foot hundreds of miles to shoot my shot with a lost love. He confided that he hitchhiked to Van Buren, Arkansas to see his gal. By turns of kismet, a trucker dropped him off at a Conoco where someone knew where she lived. They returned home to Muskogee together.

I told him I did what I did and never even saw mine after all that.

He limped to the damp wooden bench and laid my cell down. I said she’d never reached out to me since, and I often wondered what I could’ve said or done to slam whatever door I’d felt was ajar, or even just to leave the recidivist prison of my own thinking. And, leaning against the dun bricks, I confessed to wondering if it’s been a well-deserved imprisonment. In our silence near 3rd and Utica, there were sirens or maybe gunshots in the distance. He picked the phone back up.

“How long’s your loving been?” he asked.
“You wanna call it that?” I chirped.
“Humor me.”
“I’m almost out of year eleven.” 
“Christ, you made it past the decade mark?!” he shrieked, “It’s Easter…man I’ll pray for ya.” 
All I could think to say was, “It’s Pesach, too.”

I went back inside to resume Jeff Buckley’s 33-piece set, “Live At Sin-é,” and pondered the Threes of it all. Three years prior was—among things such as dropping out of college a third time, watching fellow coworkers and friends love each other, fool around, and rip each other’s hearts and lives apart to a point of body count—around when I had my last good cry. Regrettably, it was about “my” Yarivah (a Hebrew senhal I’d used when speaking to friends); I’d thought of her daily ever since.

This aching mid-aged man’s entire story fit comfortably within what was burgeoning into two emotional pitstops for a twentysomething. Upon this thought (yet never latter thoughts on all the luminous humans I’ve lived among and separate from, snuffed out time after time because of the same goddamn story of yet another megalomaniacal, typically white dude, smug in his lovelornness or perceived disenfranchisement), my eyes welled up yet again.

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