the red beard was laconic. i had a feeling he was on lithium. he shaved his beard. he was more handsome that i thought he was. he got a clean haircut. he didn’t look as old. he said he was growing the beard back. his girlfriend liked it better, he said. i thought he shouldn’t grow it. i was feeling murky and self pity. amanda complained about how busy she was. she doubted being able to build a relationship with me. what she didn’t know was that anything grand involved a great deal of doubt. people wanted everything easy and not grave. i didn’t know how to respond to her when she complained about not having time. i didn’t think she did much when she did have time. i didn’t have patience and i didn’t not have patience. i wasn’t as absorbed with the need for meaning as she was. i thought meaning was limiting.

they thought i was looking into how the water supply was in the small valley oregon town. i went to a motel on fruitvale avenue to spend time with a woman i met at the valley inn. she brought her mentally ill brother with her. i walked with him downtown while his sister did an errand. he asked everyone for a dollar and then for five dollars when they said they didn’t have a dollar. he screamed at a statue of a general from the civil war and decided to spend a few hours  on a bench. i was happy to be with his sister and not with him. i had the feeling he was capable of killing someone because he didn’t get a dollar when he asked for it. she reminded me of an actor who recently died under his jeep. she had the actor’s large  eyes and sensibility. her eyes had an intelligence that interested me. her eye talked to me about the weather and the stillness in the orchard where she went to remember her father. he left her and her mother when she was five. he was a good father and cared for her. he owed two men a gambling debt and they killed him because he wasn’t able to pay it.  i wasn’t able to work the t.v.. it had two channel changers and i didn’t know how to use them to change the channels. she also wasn’t able to change the channel. we were stuck with one channel. it was as if our reality had been monopolized by one sensibility. it had golf on. white male men clubbed a small white ball and walked after it until they got it into a hole. it was very windy. it didn’t seem to affect the ball. the white men bent over when they got the ball in the hole to take it out; some of the players greeted the crowd that followed them and the crowd clapped. when i first saw the woman. she was crouching down next to the legs of her coworker. she didn’t have underwear on. i saw her clenched vagina. she was pulling spandex up to her crotch. do you know whack a mole, she said. yeah, i said. i whack them all day long, she said. that is what i do. i felt safe and happy. i wanted to hug her. i wanted to marry her and live with her forever. she had strong forearms and big hands. she was capable of giving me a good hiding if needed and i needed it. i have an older brother, she said. if you want to see me you have to accept him. i will bring him with me whenever we hang out. he likes to ride the bus. he stands and talks to himself without making a sound. he mouths the words but he doesn’t say them. when he doesn’t talk he looks at whoever has been looking at him, which is everyone. he looks at them and sees them so that they can see that he sees them. he doesn’t acknowledge them.if they talk to him.he turns his head away and talks to himself without saying the words out loud. no one can make out the words. i can because i’m his sister. he usually is saying the words of a song or a commercial he saw on t.v.. i worry about him when he screams. i don’t want a police man to put him in a choke hold or for someone to think he is attacking him and shoot him dead. he likes to go downtown to sit in the shade with the down and out. they know him. they know he has no money. they don’t bother him.
i didn’t know what i wanted to do with her.