He stayed upwind of the doe, and exhaled slowly, without sound. He’d have like to have gotten closer. From this distance, eighty, ninety yards or so, the wind might play hell with the flight of the arrow.He wanted a clean kill; he didn’t want the doe to suffer unnecessarily. One through the ribcage would end it quickly. All vital organs right there–heart, liver, lungs (any one of them would do-) would put meat in the refrigerator for a winter or so.
She went 130 or so, a lot of meat, clean and clean.
He’d gotten laid off two years ago. Most of the tool and die making in Youngstown was gone, along with the machines the tools were made for. It was really all he knew. He was handy, but so was every other working man in Youngstown. They used to joke that they’d become a town full of “Schneiders,” referring to the handyman in some sitcom he didn’t remember anymore. It used to be a funny thought. Now? Not so much.
Jaedowicz handed him his last check and couldn’t look him in the eye. He just off-handedly said, “It isn’t right, bro. I’m sorry man.”
He just nodded and thanked his boss, all the while steeping toward the garage. They were friends and neither of them knew what to say, and then realized there was nothing to say. It’s just the way it was.
For months, he hung around the Home Depot and hired out for day labor and fix-it jobs. He made just enough to stay respectably broke, able to pay for his beer and the occasional quarter-ounce of chronic.
He aimed the bow and let the arrow fly in one fluid motion. It struck the doe just below the haunch, in the belly, the 4-sided razor point slicing through viscera and organs. It wouldn’t be long. The doe ran like hell for about 50 yards and then,all of the sudden, just appeared to sit down.
As he walked up he realized she was staring right at him, her eyes large and liquid, unblinking pools of black just boring into him from the snow. It shook him for a second. It was unnerving watching the doe’s side gout black blood while she serenely regarded him. For a second he wanted to speak, and then shook his head.
She kept staring. He turned his back and fished in his pocket for a cigarette. He lit it and felt the doe’s eyes on his back.
His bottom lip started to tremble.
She lit her Tiparillo and pulled her Suzuki up on its stand. It was one of those magical Ohio nights,complete with lightning bugs and the smell of New Riegel’s ribs; not BBQ, but smoky garlic, unlike any other rib joint in the world.
It was a haul from Finley to New Reigel but the ribs and the beers were worth it. It was one of those evenings that could have been early fall or late spring where everything smelled like it was wet and brand new. The Fudge shop was open and the Korean women were pulling and weaving maple, rocky road and even peppermint fudge, of all things. Their smooth faces, half smiled as they pulled and folded the fudge in a way that was hypnotic to watch. She could smell it in the air if she thought about it long enough.
She watched the 18-wheelers sail East on the turnpike from miles away, the tail-lights disappearing like solitary embers over the hills. This was the Ohio she loved–rolling hills and pitch black skies with a blanket of stars like diamonds laying on black velvet.
Even better was this time of night. Nobody on the roads and she could push her little 300 cc rice-burner as fast as it could go. It was proportional. Even with a buzz on, she could handle the Suzuki and let it off the leash and hear the little beast scream.
She pawned the asshole’s engagement ring. Had a pocket full of cash and not a goddamn thing in the world could catch her.
Every election cycle, Ohio is a battleground state. For months before the election, there are political operatives, state-wide, working the populace into a furious lather about jobs, immigrants, unions, guns, and gay marriage. As goes Ohio, goes America, or so the consensus seems to indicate. Our Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is from Ohio; the orange, douche-y crybaby a native of Cincinnati. He typifies the Ohio political operative.
It is a state with an immense unemployment rate– like the rest of America right now. What has particularly hobbled Ohio though is the disappearance of its manufacturing base. The last century’s slow leak of economies have been almost unduly brutal to Ohio. Steel, paper, glass and rubber all found cheaper places to be made than Ohio. In fact, the government, in many cases, paid companies to outsource these industries–(and jobs) a dirty secret they blame everyone and everything else for.
It’s actually been a masterful job of political misdirection. Blame the Unions. Blame the undocumented workers. Blame minorities. Blame immigrants. It became a round robin of working class furies and unfocused bigotries, and much political hay was made from it.
Ohio became America’s blues song–poverty piled on top of hopelessness, piled on top of recrimination and vitriolic hate-speech. It won the
GOP two elections. The Democrats played it safe and timid and lost the soul of middle America. Al Gore trying to win an election from Nashville. John Kerry doing his best Kennedy imitation, aloof and above it all. The despair and fury of places like Ohio weren’t having any–they were sick to fucking death of candidates who with a wink, let them know how much smarter they were than the electorate.
It is why a disgrace like George W. Bush could win. He acted like he gave a fuck what they thought. Did he? Of course not. One can tell by looking at Ohio today. There has not been a whole lot of marked change. County by county, Ohio’s lowest percentage of unemployment is 4.4% and in Pike county, its highest rate, is 12.9% with most other counties averaging out at just under ten percent. It’s safe to say that a state with nearly ten per cent unemployment has not experienced much in the way of renewal.
Has Obama helped?
If you look at the bald numbers, you’d think not. In fact, a cursory glance leads you to believe unemployment went up under Obama’s first term. A harder look will tell you that while there might be more unemployed people, a result of a death-spiral started decades ago with dying industries–there would have been a hell of a lot more unemployment had not Obama bailed out the auto and banking industries. The argument can be made in a salient way; that huge auto plants like Lordstown, (a GM subsidiary) which employs thousands– would not have survived a collapse of the auto industry.
In the battle for Ohio, though. . .nobody is talking about that. The political operatives wish only to further erode the American fabric of this place, with more bile, more ugliness, and move divisive vitriol.
There is a reason I pay so much attention to Ohio. My favorite poet is a son of this place. James Wright won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for his poems about his sad, gray, Midwestern place. Ohio, in Wright’s eyes, seems a purgatory of sorts; a place more to be survived than actually lived in.
His lovely poem, Autumn begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio is ostensibly about football season. It can now be read as a metaphor for the season of American and Ohio politics, and its definition becomes ever more tragic.
Here it is:
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home,
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each others’ bodies.
An unintended elegy for the bloodsport of American politics.
Here is wishing Ohio a break– some grace, some peace, a sky full of hopeful stars.
My friends as a teenager were gear-heads. They liked American muscle cars–GTOs, Chargers Road Runners, Chevelles–all manner of American muscle,to be driven murderously fast and all 400 horses breaking a sweat. One guy drove a midnight blue Impala with a shimmering metal-flake finish and it was like a sleek torpedo. He’d get it out on the Eisenhower and bury the needle heading east to Lake Shore Drive and the night skyline decked out with lights like shiny gangster candy, blinking on and off was like a lover’s semaphore. The Impala roared an American high-octane howl, a pagan machine, under the Chicago night sky.