32nd and High

Atari. My best friend in high school was the only person I knew who had an Atari gaming system. Or was it in middle school? Eric. I don’t remember his last name. Poor neighborhood — lower income neighborhood, excuse me — not welfare, and hanging on to the little bit of respectability that distinction gave us. We would play for hours. Pitfall. A guy running, jumping over scorpions, swinging over roughly pixelated quicksand or lakes or whatever. I wanted one badly — everyone did — so badly, I bought one on the internet five years ago. And all kinds of games. Pole position. Pac Man. Pitfall 1 and 2. It wasn’t as fun, or exciting, as it had been when I was a teenager. 

Choir. I never joined until middle school. Didn’t need to put myself on display until middle school. Cole Middle School’s choirs were good, though, and popular. Everybody knew and loved us, like we were the football team. I loved concert choir, the great “we” feeling of making a beautiful sound together. We were a choir. A good unit. We rocked the house. When a choir is good, is in sync, and in full voice, with passion, joy, excitement, energy, pride, and purpose, loving the way they sound together — and the way “together”  sounds — more than the way they sound individually… (I’ve played football, and basketball, and a touchdown, a basket, does not compare). The only thing better than the sound of a choir is being in the choir, in the midst of it, while its making that sound. It stays with me. It moves me whenever I relive it. 

Pooch. Our dog. My mom found her wandering the streets, with her left (right?) hind foot attached to her leg by a piece of flesh. A car hit her. She chewed her foot off, overnight, and either buried it or ate it. The best dog. She could run on just three legs, and fast. She’d get frantic, and bite us if we played too hard. She always knew which presents were hers under the Christmas tree. She’d sit by them all night. She jumped through the living room picture window, once, when someone tried to break into the house. She was family. I was going to write once that no one in my immediate family had died yet but Pooch did. She was ill or just old. My mom knew she was dying and sent us to bed. “I’ll call you.” I woke up at some point. My mom was sitting with her, between  he living room and dining room, talking to her. “It’s okay. You can go. We’ll be okay. You were a good dog.” One of my sisters shook my foot to wake me after she died. I was glad I hadn’t been awake. It was winter. It might have been winter. It was Colorado. It snowed from September to May. My brother and I carried her body, wrapped in one of my mother’s old bathrobes, and buried it in the backyard. My mother prayed for her. 

This was all while living in our house on 32nd and High Street in Denver. My mother inherited it from my great-aunt. She was my grandfather’s sister, on my mother’s side. He was a boxer, William Patrick Williams, lightweight division. The papers called him “The Denver Darky”. They were wealthy at some point, my family, because of him. One of my relatives drove past a gym, near downtown, pointed and said, “We used to own that”. He was an alcoholic; so was my grandmother. He spent all of his money and bankrupted his family. My great-aunt Tish and her husband had jobs, when the collectors swept through the family taking everything they could resell. She was a nurse. Her husband, Ernie, my middle-namesake, drove a taxi. They owned their house. Almost everyone else was living off my grandfather, because he wanted it, or them, that way. Most of them died before I knew them, except for my Aunt Sally and Uncle Billy, my mother’s siblings. Billy changed his name to Alex Thorance Nelson after he moved out. I wanted to write an article about my grandfather, call it “Malevolence”, but I can’t find enough information about him. 

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