Eddie sure as hell didn't want spend the rest of his life in Burque, but it sure seemed like it would go that way as he loaded another pizza into the Pontiac. And the moon shone down on the elms and cottonwoods, the cicadas buzzed and nineteen-hundred and ninety-six was not a bad year.
He came back to town like a lightning storm from the Caribbean that January. A man with a scar across his belly and hands like starfish held a knife across Eddie's throat in Tobago because Eddie told the dude his haircut made him look new wave. The way it was tied up on his head like an abandoned coral reef made Eddie think it was just a convenient disguise; the kind the po-po used when they wanted you to be comfortable because they needed more information before they stepped in with machetes drawn and handcuffs at the ready.
He got to walk away from that incident on two accounts, the first being his fluency with slang and the second having to do with the civil war presidents that hung out in his left front pocket.
After that he wandered through town cursing his luck and studying the night sky. The next morning he left Crown Point with acid burning a glorious hole in his gut. The 10 seat Cessna that bore Eddie away made for the coast of the southern continent.
The Isle of Margarita was better, some of the streets were lined with orange trees, but even the good hotels had plumbing hanging out of the walls. Eddie hired a car and headed for the coast. The cabbie tuned in to a station that was playing "Stairway to Heaven" over and over. The sea was grey and despicable. At dinner an old European couple hit him up for a threesome. Eddie feigned shock and wandered back to his cabana alone.
Two days on and he was stranded in the student ghetto again, reading want ads in the Daily Lobo, smoking rolled up frajos made from butts found by the front door of the Frontier Restaurant.
Eddie finally scored a job as a substitute teacher. Shorn and shaved, wearing his old man's cast off business attire, it was easy enough to think he might be a teacher.
The year was burning by kinda like a rocket to the moon might look like from the proper vantage point. In May Eddie took a full time gig at the school.
He liked all the responsibility; the pizza in the cafeteria kept his spirit calm. But at night his head was still filled up with the mountains and seas and people that made up a faraway earth he reckoned he ought to conquer while youth permitted.
When summer school ended, he walked away from the job and rang up an old flame. Lorraine was living at the edge of the Himalaya mountains and goddammit if it didn't sound fine and picturesque where she was, with fruit bats a flyin' and the monsoon petering out to reveal an infinite, mountainous majesty that beat Burque to hell by comparison.
Since he needed some feria to get out there, Eddie took a temp position at the same college he had run screaming from four years before. They were pleased as punch to see his sorry ass and let him get their internet connections sorted out. Then he was in charge of dispensing keys and also sat in the front office typing memos.
Every night he would tumble out of there and walk downtown. He'd spend everything he could come up with drinking with acquaintances and coaxing beautiful strangers back to his pad for jazz cigarettes and strong coffee.
As summer waned he ran into a gal he had known in the 1980s. She was a townie with yellow hair and hands like a clock. They ended up back at Glenda's house where she wept while telling Eddie about her life. All Eddie could think about was that woman's mother sleeping in the next room, the scent of her dead father's shoes wafting solemnly through the family home.
Eddie picked up the phone at work the next day.. It was a trunk call from Nepal. The operator asked if he wanted to be connected. The voice on the other side was dulcet, was like velvet. Come out here, the voice said and we will make it work this time.
Eddie was all torn up. He liked the yellow-haired woman, even though she said he dressed like a punk and should trade in his patronage at Pacific Coast Sunwear for the comfort and cultural cachet of Macy's. And he had a history with Lorraine, could not resist her Oxford accent—especially given the hot dry air, the crackling insect desert, the dull clerk's identity he had gathered up into a bag called Albuquerque.
One morning after a party at Glenda's, he borrowed her car and drove over to Allsup's. Eddie bought a burrito with a Grant and poured the change—196 quarters—into the pay phone so he could tell Lorraine what exactly he had decided to do.
Eddie returned the car, took his skateboard and left. He withdrew all of his money from the bank, skated over to his favorite tavern and got good and drunk.
That night he fell alseep in a friend's back yard. When the short night had ebbed he hauled his sorry ass over to a travel Agency by the Sunport and bought a one way ticket to Kathmandu. He sure as hell hoped it would work out this time.
Six month's later when he returned for his mother's funeral—thin and worn with a head full of incense—Eddie took a job delivering pizzas. The third delivery ticket was for an address in Nob Hill; it was Glenda's house. He took her the pizza. She stood at the door, staring at the stars and weeping. As Eddie held the pie out toward Glenda her hands moved around and around in small circles exploring the space all around them.