Remembering Lloyd
By Laura Fleury

I never thought of him
Over the years
Until that day.

We were all sitting
In the overcrowded livingroom,
Too many things jammed into
Too small a space.

Aunt Jean sat smoking
On the couch, leaning
Over the ashtray, while
Gray-white puffs of smoke
Coiled around gray-white hair.
A usual visit.

Mother perched on the other end
Of the couch, straining to listen
To words that never quite reach the hearing-aid.
Father lying on the opposite couch,
Straining to decode
Words that never quite reflect their true meaning.
Caves with dark tunnels,
Enter and discover what lay
Waiting to be unearthed,
Enter at your own risk.

My aunt spoke of a neighbor.
" He landed in the Funny Farm," she said,
Proclaiming her sanity, glancing at me.
I sat on the misplaced recliner
Trying to decipher ancient hieroglyphics,
Thinking of family secrets
That floated outward and upward
From her gray-white smoke.
Father lay in wait
Ready to take up arms
Against foreign and hostile attack,
Thinking of his nervous breakdown in '54.
Inside the cave,
The wind howled.

The talk drifted on to Uncle Clairy,
Younger brother to Jean and Father.
He had a hard time of it,
As things would go.
" Never seen anything like it,"
She said, once again proclaiming her sanity.
" Just sat there, sayin' nothing "
" He takes little white pills,
And 15 minutes later,
He just sits there, sayin' nothin'."
" Probably a tranquilizer," I volunteered.
Shutting down the machine
That constantly spews out unrelenting and
Inescapable thoughts.
" He's had such a difficult time
Tryin' to get a diagnosis
For those ongoin' symptoms," I added.
" Yes," she replied, " I suppose..."
And then those unforgettable words...
" Well-l-l, there's that business of Lloyd's
He gotta deal with, "
Giving me an all knowing look,
A sneer of contempt, a subject so reproachable
As to render its very name unspeakable.
Inside the cave,
The wind howled.

Jean left shortly thereafter.
Leaving me to sit in the misplaced recliner,
Her words intertwined with
The dizzying cloud of gray-white smoke
Left trailing in her absense.
A vision of Lloyd came to mind,
Some half-forgotten moment in time
Sixteen years ago, a boy of fourteen,
Our one and only meeting.
Recalling his strong expressive demeanor
Helped to create various scenarios,
Where father and son
Might find themselves entrenched
In the Battle of Personalities.
Perhaps he left the Church, I thought
Or became hopelessly addicted
To delightfully foolish merriment.
I turned to Father, still lying
on the couch, reading the television guide
And breezily asked,
" What's goin' on with Lloyd?"
" He's dying," he responded
Without lifting eyes from his paper.
The tone of indifference giving incongruity
To the massive assault being delivered
I barely heard myself speak
Over the brain's screaming.
" Of what?" I said
Trying to keep my hands from
Ripping his magazine forcibly away.
" Aids," he responded, while turning the page.
Inside the cave,
The wind howled.

Remembering Lloyd's sense of adventure,
I asked, " Was he in an accident?
Was he given bad blood?"
" No, he's gay," I heard just
As the television flickered on.
We became two characters
Waiting for Kafka to finish writing
Our lines to this scene.
" How long has he been sick?" I managed to utter.
" He's known for nine years, his father for one,"
I heard through the clatter of voices
Emitting from the t.v.
I suddenly wondered if I had
Become a giant insect,
Hopelessly trapped
In this ever narrowing room.
The buzzing in my head
Merely wings beating in futility.
" I feel sorry for his father," he said,
" He can't deal with this,
So he stays away.
He should forgive Lloyd
Before he dies."
" Forgive him for what?"
The brain screams through the buzzing.
Inside the cave,
The wind howled.

Lloyd was thirty.
My mind holds a picture
Of a fourteen year old boy
With hair of strawberry-gold.
We walked together on that day
In budding youth, and spoke of life.
He was full of boundless energy, unbridled joy
Unable to decide from a multitude of possibilities,
His life's direction.
He played a tape from the Chevy Malibou
And danced on the grass
Burnt from summer's heat,
Dreaming of his career on stage
" When I grow up..."
I heard him say.
Life is so very cruel,
People, even crueler.
Inside the cave,
The wind howled.

The funeral was held that Spring,
Father felt I should not attend
So, had taken my sister instead.
She held no memory of Lloyd,
Only spoke of his way of life.
Father had gone out of sympathy
For his brother.
Mother had perched, straining to listen
To words that never quite reached the hearing-aid.
They brought back a memento from his service,
Which I asked to keep.
On this paper, a picture of Lloyd,
Very much like the one I hold
In my mind from long ago.
And written on its pages,
A final wish of remembrance,
To light a candle and
Think of him within its glow.
I have often done this and envisioned
A fourteen year old boy with hair
Of strawberry-gold
Who danced on the grass,
Burnt from summer's heat.
Inside the cave,
The wind continues to howl.

Laura Fleury is a resident of Nova Scotia, Canada.
She has enjoyed writing for many years.
She previously attended N.S.T.C. where she
specialized in Junior High Teaching and majored in English.

Return to Magic Stream