It is unusually warm for the day after thanksgiving in Tomkins Cove New York. The wizard wakes up early, pleased with the pale color of dawn that peeks through the torn curtains. He rolls out of bed and heads towards the kitchen. Last night his buddy Ryan left a cell phone message saying that Rods brothers and sisters were in town and the wizard likes to be prepared.
Rod had a musician sister in Chicago, a brother who lives in a mansion in Detroit that Rod had helped to renovate and a brother in North Carolina who owns a tai chi retreat. The wizard himself would not say no to music or mansions or even tai chi. Maybe he will get out of here for a while someday. He rolls a skinny pin joint and pours a shot of jack into his coffee as the sun steals the dawn away from the sky and the morning fills up with the lonesome sound of train whistles and birds and heavy metal radio. He dreams idly of Caitlin, with her long dirty blond hair and her pink scabbed arms and the danskin tops that look just like the ones all the girls used to wear in high school. He whistles to himself as he heads back into the kitchen to pour another cup of coffee, then he rolls and lights another joint and sits down at the kitchen table, watching the smoke curl through the shafts of sunlight that stream through the old double paned windows. He calls the dog in from the back yard and scoops chunky food into her bowl from a blue plastic garbage can that that has a lock down lid so she can not get in and help herself whenever she feels like it .The wizard is on the chunky side himself with tiny brown eyes and a smooth shiny head but he likes his dogs to stay thin. They live longer that way. The dog in a medium size Shepard mix with black ears and big brown eyes that she fixes on the wizard as she wolfs down her food. He pads around the kitchen and washes some dirty dishes , cracked bone white china plates with pink flowers and gold rims .He puts them in the dish rack to dry and walks in to the bedroom to take his favorite suit out of the old waterfall wardrobe. Then he grabs a broom and hastily sweeps up the wrap around porch. The sound of Stevie ray fills the air and the wizard is amazed at this sign from the sky. Rod was crazy about Stevie Ray.
When we troop past the white Victorian house with green trim the moon faced man sitting on the porch tips his black silk top hat .He is wearing a moth eaten suit with velvet lapels. We are heading to Jacks Rock, Christopher’s favorite fishing spot. I have not been to Tomkins cove in years so I assume that this is the same wide flat rock where I spent many teenage afternoons smoking pot and downing Quaaludes with other pretty girls in peasant tops and ragged jeans. When we reach our destination I can see that I have been mistaken. This rock is just across the river from the Indian Point reactor and it is only large enough for one man to fish upon.
When one of my remaining brothers steps out onto the rock the ashes fall in a thick grey waterfall with no romantic wind to blow them fancifully about .As my sister reads some lyrics from a Stevie Ray song, I wonder who Jack was. I wonder which one of Christopher’s crack addled friends thought it would be a good idea to scatter his remains in front of a nuclear power plant and I wonder if my mother will get through this. But most of all I wonder why I was able to cast drugs aside with a restless shrug and why Christopher could not or would not do the same.
As walk past the man in the top hat on our way back to the car it dawns on me that he is someone who knew my brother as Rod, a nickname that everyone in my family resolutely refused to adopt. I raise my sad blue eyes to meet his bloodshot ones before following my family round the bend.