[38] Heart of Hearts, Howie Good

Ohio wakes to rain. During the night, dad, a dark raging mass throughout my childhood, has drifted even further toward the end. I try to make myself feel fittingly sad, but a heart isn’t a bud that just opens automatically, without inquiry or qualms. “Gangster of Love” is an old hit record by the Steve Miller Band. It’s also now a job description. The work is more difficult than it sounds. When I walk, wherever I walk, my shadow walks ahead of me.

*

The white police officer has too small a heart. How is that legal? the prosecutor asks. The wily old judge gestures that he can’t hear over the roar of the rain. Witnesses in the case exchange anxious glances across the courtroom. The defense attorney just smirks. A while later, a van taking away the jurors runs completely off the road. No one is even hurt, but angels are everywhere, joking and laughing and smelling like turned earth.

*

General George S. Patton, a notorious glory hound who wore ivory-handled revolvers on his hips, believed firmly in reincarnation. A woman he recognized from one of his past lives lay down on the floor, fitting herself into the outline of a dead body. It was soon raining again, scarlet and black, the drops alternating between blood and bile. Even the cows on the hillside wondered what the fuck. If you ever go searching for an answer, you’ll just end up disappointed and confused and alongside broken old farm machinery rusting in the weeds in an abandoned corner of the heartland.

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