See you in the mourning

by Elizabeth Jill

It's been raining so long I forget what I'm thinking. Oh. That's right... it's about James and Gem. I swipe my face. Wet from rain, I guess. Seems like it's been years of this rain remembering things about James and Gem.

James is always saying that he's going to die with his boots on. I know this without him telling me. What I know should count for something.

I never see him without his dog, Gem. She's an Irish Setter, heavy on the Irish - meaning she can outflash his temper and toss it right back to him with a ribbon around it. When James daydreams about things, he always includes her. "Me and Gem are going to make our fortune finding genuine arrowheads," he'll venture, "sell them for thousands to people who want the real thing - not some slapped-out tourist trinket." and "Gem 'n I only want a woman around who believes in having breakfast, lunch and dinner. None of this damn fangled fast box bullshit, either: it's food we're interested in, not crusted paste. We're biding our time and getting along fine by ourselves anyway."

Rowdy, the two of them. Rowdy is a word that takes a place of honor with James and Gem. I don't think *rowdy* should be used unless it's earned. Like they've earned it.

Years. Why do they gang up on us? I swipe some more rain off my face.

Yesterday James calls me from a payphone on the edge of a busy street. Says he's at the intersection of 10th and Main and urgently needs me to bring him some things. "Well, what? - are you out of gas?" I ask. "No, goddammit, could you just get over here and while you're at it- bring me my boots. I can't move in these piss-ant excuses for shoes I got on." "Is Gem with you?" I ask, idiot question, I know. He slams things and hangs up. I swipe rain off my face and curse. It does a person good to curse every now and then. It makes the times you're not cursing more genuine.

And of course I go. I stop by his house first and grab his boots. They were drying out on the back steps from being soaked in the rain. The rain that's still coming down and under and over and won't quit. I swipe my face some more. Get in my truck. Floor the thing, because that's what you do when your friend calls you for help.

There's James. I see him now. Crunched in the corner at the intersection. Something is terribly wrong. People are leaning over him, and Gem is just laying all still-like underneath him. It's then I'm paralyzed. I somehow have stopped my truck and am heading over to James in a second-by-second slow merge with horror. "Toss me my damn boots!" James threatens me.

Well, what would you have done I ask you? They were both doomed. Gem just surrendered earlier is all. James is hollow now. His eyes have lost their Irish.

James was always saying that he's going to die with his boots on.


Author's Note: Just a short story-poem I wanted to share with you.

Posted on 03/08/2012
Copyright © 2021 Elizabeth Jill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Dan Linn on 03/08/12 at 07:25 PM

This has the surreal feel of real tragedy. Breathless.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 03/08/12 at 07:47 PM

A fine piece. I like the use of the rain throughout, it really keeps the flow going, pun intended. It is a sad story, and the third person lets us view these two buddies from a little distance, and still makes it feel very personal. Thanks, Jill.

Posted by Clara Mae Gregory on 03/08/12 at 08:57 PM


Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 03/11/12 at 03:41 PM

Great story poem. Lots of detail; surreal almost!

Posted by Elizabeth Shaw on 03/13/12 at 03:26 PM

i liked this much. thnx

Posted by LK Barrett on 03/13/12 at 07:26 PM

...that stillness in the middle of crisis, when the things that ought to be making torn steel noises are muffled and moving in slow motion...all here, all immediate, all too intimate and careful...great write, ty. LKB

Posted by Rob Littler on 09/02/17 at 08:56 AM

Eyes that have lost their Irish are bluer than blue.

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