Karpinsky and Dog stood catty-corner aside the intersection from the taking of the Purple House. Traffic was inordinately puzzled: a crescent shape of orange barrels and mesh construction barriers bowed from the corner, the traffic lights blinked amber, the alternated stop and go strings of cars crossing or turning the corners and wrecker crew vehicles exiting and retrying to park with most of the drivers rubber-necking at the demolition. Opposite corners had paused city buses as big cream-colored, faded orange, door-gaping hot-diesel city transit machines, their chrome edged pneumatic doors swift with a steam-huffed noise as workers with lunch pails and students with book sacks and a lady in a herringbone scarf carrying a bag of bent soda and beer cans hesitated amidst on and off cliques, the riders departing or entering the bus.
On the side of the bus across the street a placard recruited Marines in parade dress marching, swords upright, staring right at you. Sun shone through the buses and a horizontal bus window slid open. Streamed shadows cut morning shapes while angles etched motion on the asphalt. Tarred gutter edges sealed along concrete curbs. A city worker with tattooed dragons on his forearms had wrenched off the brass fitting on a fire hydrant and now from a canvass hose, an umbrella water prism misted and arced highly over the Purple House rubble. The house was gone. Reddish dust continued to roil.
A white prison bus with opaque glass escorted by a policeman on a motorcycle trike tried to prioritize its way through the traffic knot. An approaching Buick slammed its brakes—stopping just aside the motorcycle, almost T-boning the motorcycle and the nose of the bus. John Karpinsky could see faces peering from the bus and you could tell that two men sat on each seat. Irrupted, the cop squawked his siren and navigated forward through the intersection, the prison bus shifting and rattling as it accelerated.
He walked away from the Purple House.
A bulldozer fumed billows of soot as it gnawed back and forth retrieving haphazard mouthfuls in its bucket. Dauntlessly the machine’s threads rolled up and down over ruined planks and sticks entangled with conduit the color of WWII nickels, ten foot snapped in half random chucks or full sheaths of plaster walls, red pine lath with hand hammered nails, the entire ruined structure including rough hewn thick beams, dusty from other eras. Young construction workers balanced atop the refuse in yellow helmets wearing insect-eye-like goggles or astronaut-like plastic face shields. Their chain saws idling, stopping, and then the men would again yank ropes of the saws with reverse uppercut motion, as they hacked through and severed the old beams.
All the while the claw crane on the periphery of the demolished Purple House yet nipping up diminished grabs and bites of the remnant of family home. And, along with the antiquated dozer which scurried up and down the lumber and bricks scrap hill, the crew and machines fed the dump trucks with bangs and clacks of waste--the morning sky rife with a pair of high flown coasting hawks as nesting birds darted throughout the trees and shrubbery, their beaks crammed with twigs and twine.
A bluebird with a goldfish writhed in its mouth fled toward the sunup, as the demo crew worked on and on to make a clearing.
Karpinsky had harnessed Dog like a Seeing Eye dog and slowly turned—Dog defiantly barked, barked again over his shoulder at the havoc of his former home—he continued walking away not looking back. Karpinsky thought of thousands of things, his backpack heavy as he leaned backward walking as strongly as he could, Dog dutifully patient, sensing the pace. Dog’s paws were old and long-nailed and seemed like giant paws.
They made it over to the parkway along the river and fell asleep face-to-face within a cavern of boughs beneath a pine tree.
Roberta returned to him in deep dreams.
Karpinsky washed his face in the stream. Dog drank chest deep water and barked at a mallard and drake as, like glimmer, their legs first, they lighted mid-river and bobbed with their reflections moving quickly away toward ripples in the mirrored image of the spring-bright willow tree branches.
By hand, he fed Dog raw hamburger, Dog’s tail going a hundred miles an hour. Karpinsky felt like playing his blues harp, but he took out a tattered copy of Gravity’s Rainbow and sat on a rock on the riverbank dangling his bare feet in the cool water, Dog gone meandering in the underbrush near the road, sniffing aggressively for circular scents of invisible rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, rogue porcupine, possum, feral cats, fox, skunk, philandering chipmunks, coveted shares of defunct railroads, trinkets as souvenirs maybe from Manhattan Island, whatever might be buried beneath the dirt Dog growled pawing at it, scratching, ripping the grass over which grew vivid daffodils' swaths and tulips in primary colors that paused the breeze, the sounds of the rushed city traffic muffled by a plethora of arborvitae in rows like sentries buffering betwixt the wild and urban, around this river bend, its fast water, where Karpinsky dozed: holly with knife-like nibs as dark green as the river, honeysuckle, fully-flowered lilac, the moist flowers lavender, a bumblebee hovering, even a darting-glimpsed emerald/ruby humming bird duo nesting within wisteria, a motionless cicada with crisp black-veined wings, the wisteria a vibrant burst of pale, tiny yellow spade-shaped leaves, a black-dirt smudged loop-handled blue plastic bag matted over a colony of wood worms that hectically scooted blindly bumpily to and fro like dead-flesh colored miniature Volkswagens—Dog sniffed, played, growled and now and again mock pointed and poised wanting to howl toward a fawn on wobbly legs, its mother furtively licking beige glistened mucus from it—the deer a shade of nervous invisibility quaking at the stand of a tri-cluster of huge ash trees, their towered limbs swaying and wind-rustled that morning, their intricate bark grooves gridded gray centered by dark diamonds as black as the midday shadows, as black as a deer eye.