I was walking to Higher Grounds when the first one fell from the sky. A whirring sound preceded him so I was able to side-step to avoid a direct blow. He hit the ground at a distressing angle.
Kevin Groutmeyer, I said. Are you ok?
He was more than ok; living with his partner and their twin boys in Harrisburg, and I said, Amazing! Harrisburg!
Kevin Groutmeyer was the one who could do the thing where you flip the girl from the top to the bottom without letting go. This necessitates the upper body strength of a wrestler and the focus of a physicist. I demonstrated it to several girlfriends, using a saltshaker for the girl and a peppershaker for the boy.
Now Kevin had what you would call liquid brown eyes and shoulders as wide as a meadow. For once, I thought, the right person turned out handsome.
We beamed and held hands as if we were about to gallop through a line of dancers.
Look at you, I said.
He said, Look at you!
My town’s chief bragging point is: a short drive to everything! but me, I like to walk. Arms akimbo. Toes out. Let the whole world come as far as I’m concerned. I continued my walk to town, akimbo. No sooner had I turned onto Orange Street than BLAM. Marisa O’Donnell landed in a bush!
She and her husband live in Pittsburgh. No kids but not from lack of trying. You know how things can be.
I really do, I said.
Show me anyone who ended up where they thought they would. She smiled in a wooden way, as if her manager was watching. Help me, her eyes seemed to say.
I remembered that when she was close to climax she’d yell, Hoo boy, isn’t that something?
How do you answer that?
I kept my voice bright. Sing it, I said.
I told her I was happy for her then said goodbye. It shook me seeing her, to tell you the truth. I quickened my pace. A whirring sound, and Brent Winegarten hit the lamppost and performed a controlled roll. Rico Denera butt-slid into the mailbox. He was the one who begged me to help him not hit me. I kept my face pleasant but I didn’t stop.
No ignoring Bernie Greene! He ricocheted against a few trees and the side of Higher Grounds before landing in a heap near the door.
Quite an entrance, I said.
He expressed no happiness to see me: this is the prerogative of ex-husbands. Being married to an English professor is another way of getting pummeled. He spent much of our short marriage correcting my grammar.
He and his wife live in Philadelphia with their two...yawns.
You’ve done great, I said.
He said, I’ve done well.
Bernie, I said, I’m just trying to get some fucking coffee.
My best friend Betty Sue owns Higher Grounds. It’s raining my ex-boyfriends, I told her.
I noticed, she said, handing me a Mud Latte.
I told her about my morning and she told me her carrot plants were finally responding to fertilizer.
Kevin Groutmeyer? She leaned in. Isn’t he the one who can do that thing?
In the flesh, I said. The Mud Latte was lighting up my mood.
Her eyes grew wide. You don’t think you’ll see Mike?
Mike? I said. No. Mike? No.
I breathed in and out. A woman at the condiment table shook sugar into her espresso. A hard knot formed in my gut.
When I was leaving Betty Sue called out, if you see Nick Fredericks tell him I said go scratch. She gave me a be strong fist-cheer that I answered with a here goes nothing grimace. I pushed through the door to the outside.