78 pearls around the neck
husband, now standing on the porch, yelled out. He didn’t go any closer, however, for he knew how
dangerous it might be: everyone here was armed, except for us.
“You! Answer! Who are you?” He yelled again, one notch louder.
“His name is Bob,” I said, a tint of weariness in my voice, then repeating: “It’s Bob, you don’t have to
shout, baby.”
“And may I know who Bob is?” My husband asked, stunned.
“It’s Bob By the Pond,” I said, lowering my head with resignation.
I walked down to the pond, leaving my astonished husband on the porch.
It was Bob, indeed, floating peacefully on his back. Fully dressed, smiling, happy.
“Hey, Catherine. Did yer husband like his birthday present? Ya oughtta come lie down he’e, ya know,
That was how my husband came to meet Bob, the great earthworks engineer, the troubadour of all
human miseries, the enchanter of all ponds, the prophet of rocks and stones.
We never saw him again.
Bob simply disappeared.
As though he’d never truly existed, or as though he had blended into this great indefinable “White
Trash” mass, with his beautiful smile, his muse, his beer and his cigarettes, with his rotten luck, his
disasters, his relapses and all the poetry of this lowly world, so void of humanity yet so engaging.
I, for one, enjoy thinking that he has remained with me, that he has taken on a mineral form, that
of a lichen-covered rock, and that he has been watching over me, drawing me back to the beauty of
everlasting things: of stones, and rocks, and inorganic things.
Author: Catherine Beeckman, USA, 2007
English translator: Sylvie Froschl
Illustration: Catherine Beeckman
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