Luna Park

Phil Thompson

ISSUE NO. 3 • GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT

I’m saying goodbye to a part of my life and a place. I will probably have to say goodbye to other parts of my life and other places in the future but I really don’t want to.

I enjoyed shopping and sought out ways to prolong my time in the supermarket. I think it was the anonymity. And the purposefulness. I stalked through the dimly lit shelves of alcohol and selected a six-pack: something dark today, something called Luna Park from Byzantium Brewery in Anna Cortes, I’d never heard of it. The packaging depicted a stylized crescent moon between the tips of dark pine trees, faintly lit by a glowing lantern at the bottom of the case. That was first in the cart. Then several boules of sourdough, a jar of green olives, a block of gouda, spicy mustard, red peppers, Guinness-battered brats, coffee concentrate (I liked the shape of the bottle), a Jamaican rub, chicken breasts, pre-cooked garlic bread, eight ounces of tri-tip, pears, potatoes. And in the miscellaneous aisles, birthday candles. All for me. Except for the candles. But you never know.

As I was checking out, I noticed a woman in the line in front of me. Middle-aged, wearing athletic pants and a pastel yellow fleece sweater. She was really nice to the tired-looking man at the register. Judging by the amount in her cart, she was shopping for a family. A movie was playing on cable that night that I wanted to watch, but I didn’t have any other errands and I didn’t want to go home, because I knew I would succumb to one of those depressing early-evening naps, so I waited until she pulled out of the parking lot and followed her. I liked to see where the families lived.

She drove across the bridge into an upscale neighborhood where the street forked into two one-ways separated by a grassy, tree-lined esplanade. I used to know some people who lived in this area, but they had all moved away a long time ago. The light of the sun, dipping below the ridge which we’d driven up, sunk like arrows into the strong brown tree trunks. Its orange tinge turned gold against the drab brick houses of the block, and the windows with the closed curtains flashed like wet eyes. A sliver of frigid moon could be glimpsed between the treetops.

A kid ran in front of my car. I didn’t need to brake – he was far enough down the block, and ran back after retrieving his ball – but I felt a lump form in my throat and I pounded the top of the wheel with my hands and cursed into the roof. I curled around the first break in the median and rattled home. I got home, drank all the beer, and went to sleep before midnight, dreaming of a gigantic purple shape that crushed the city into powder. Woke up to no good news.