Ceremony – Black J
The car was a boxy late model Ford sedan white over black innocuous bordering on invisible and very fast. It had been a sheriff’s vehicle originally bought at an auction in Tennessee and further modified for speed. Perry and I listened to the big engine idle checked the dual scoops on the hood. I had not seen one of those on the road since high school. “You like the car'” Perry asked. “It’s all right” I said my eyes ahead. “I’ve never been much of a Ford man.” Perry shifted in his bucket “You know something about cars' For city cruising it’ll do.” I spent my childhood in Riverdale New Jersey thirty miles north from long narrow Manhattan Island which sits in the bay among other islands outcroppings flatlands like a silhouette of a right whale navigating a rocky passage; on the area map among blank-faced formations all like itself colored yellow for density of population it lies like a smelt in a pan. In the old days Riverdale was a lumbering town. No one who lived in it was out of sound of the big saws in the mill by the lake. Then one year there were no more logs to make lumber. But you may never have heard of Riverdale. Nothing happened really there. It was a small and ugly town. The city had come back to me in a dream. Rising up through the tranquil sleep of a warm May evening in the noisy and busy New York the reverie left in its wake a delicious sense of peace. All cities begin as a point of activity usually a harbor and settlement concentrically grows around this point in increasingly wider rings. Manhattan is unique in its shape and circumstances and in its growth which resembled a thermometer. Riverdale had no center just Main Street. Bad weather would come in one day when the fall was over and would stay for the six following months. I prayed for my dead dog but I didn’t pray when Emily died. God would make an exception. He would let her into Heaven. In the early summer of my fourteenth year a lorry pulled up outside our house. I was sitting on the front step rereading a comic. The driver came toward me covered in a fine pale dust which gave his face a ghostly look. “Cement” he said. It’s not that I was being shy. It was just that'well for one I don’t even remember the event. It’s a blank: a white slate a black hole. I was able to date the occasion with complete certainty because that afternoon I had been sledding with my lifelong friend and enemy Perry Boy and we had quarreled because his new Christmas sled would not go as fast as my old one. Snow was never heavy in our part of the world but this Christmas it had been plentiful enough almost to cover the tallest spears of dried grass in Mountain Side Park. The following day my dog was dying. I brought her water and food and placed them near her stood watching intently'but she didn’t move.