Moonlight Mile
by Dan
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.



Rolling Stones - "Moonlight Mile"

Although I know it seems unlikely, unreasonable, and pretty much impossible, I can tell you without any doubt in my mind, with total certainty and clarity of thought: prayers work, at least some of the time. And you should be careful what you do with that fact.

When I was 13 and living in Nippissing, I had two important people in my life: my new step-father, Andrew, who was ruining it, and Maggie, the freckle-faced first of my ex-soulmates, who was saving it.

Andrew had a 7:30 curfew, in June when 7:30 is still the afternoon, and to say he enforced it strictly wouldn't be adequate. I won't give too much detail, not looking for pity, but I'll say he steered every aspect of my life with his ham hock fists like he was steering a blind animal, by the scalp. Forcing me down whenever he pleased, or whenever he was upset with his own life, which was most days. He worked in a tin foil plant as a dayshift manager, and I often got the impression he was treating me the way he wished he could treat some of his employees; finally free of the constrictive mask of professionalism, he could really show his people skills.

And Maggie, the jean-shorted skateboarding smoker, who worked at Val's Ice Cream, with painted nails and who kissed with a smile. She was 14, but took after her older brother Kenneth, who was 19 and worked for Andrew at the tin foil plant. Kenneth had tattoos (a windmill and a perfect cube), a lisp like he learned English from a distorted guitar, and the first stretched ears I'd ever seen outside of National Geographic. Maggie didn't have anyone forcing her to do anything, she worked at Val's until after 11 most nights. And I just wanted more than anything to stay there, help her clean up, and walk her home cause it was summer and that would have been easy and what a normal kid would do. I wasn't looking to do anything bad, I just wanted to be around her; she glowed. So, justified, I prayed. I prayed for something bad to happen to Andrew. I prayed like I was squeezing all the energy out of my bedroom, like I was a swirling pillar of blue pray-power, commanding God to do me just one fucking favour one time.

A freak machine accident at the plant. Hit by a car in the parking lot. Cancer. Something. Anything.

And then partway into July, some morning that resembled every other morning, Maggie had an accident at the ice cream shop. When she hit the switch for the lights the night before, she'd also flipped the freezer switch; ice cream in pools on the floor. She texted Kenneth to help her before Val showed up for lunch. She couldn't replace the ice cream, but at least there'd be no mess. Val was a nice old lady and turned over the 'open' sign in the window and said, "Well, let's start making more."

But when Kenneth finally got to the plant, sweating, he was three hours late. Andrew could've fired him, could've sent him packing right then and there, but he didn't. Instead he chose to dress him down in front of the whole line. He made them stop production, and gave a speech about being a vital link in a chain, word-for-word from the training video they show you first day. It went on an on, or so I'm told, and his voice got higher and more up in his face. I imagine it was like all the kitchen spit he'd sling, finally come out in the open. All that wall-denting, chin-bleeding mindfuckery. It was so bad that Kenneth didn't know what to do, he started laughing. Of course this made Andrew even more mad. Eventually the union steward stepped in, said it was improper behaviour, and called a plant-wide 15. Andrew got his own dressing down, but behind glass and half-shut venetian blinds.

Andrew was switched to nights. Bunch of weirdos on that shift anyway, didn't matter if there was a psycho manager, no one had the energy to be crazy at that hour. And so for the rest of that summer the 7:30 curfew was a mere formality, Andrew was just finishing breakfast by then. It was night after glorious night down at Val's, and Maggie and I fell heedlessly and brainlessly in love.

[Buy Sticky Fingers] (image source)

Posted by Dan at July 3, 2012 2:51 AM


Posted by Maureen at July 3, 2012 4:14 AM

Great story. I had never heard this Stones song, but it's a great one.

Posted by John Clements at July 3, 2012 9:17 AM

So great!

Posted by Ian at July 3, 2012 11:52 AM

Unbelievable, Dan. Loved it--great pairing with that Stones song too.

Posted by Kevin at July 3, 2012 12:17 PM

perfect summer love -wes anderson- feeling and song, with shades of crinkly tan, lemonade, and that weird, quirky guy/girl down the lane...

i had to reference wes (hope it's cool)

Posted by lauren at July 3, 2012 11:35 PM

Great story. I normally stop listening to Sticky Fingers after 'bitch'.

Posted by Sean at July 4, 2012 3:59 PM

I bet your memories of sudden freedom and young love would be just as poignant and cherished if they weren't framed in relation to conversing with imaginary creatures.

The story would be just as fine a little recollection without the wacky cosmic justice angle. If this deity is capable of jostling around the events of the universe, then he's the very same goober who was indifferent to your suffering and torment. At the very least, you've got some sort of Stockholm Syndrome going on with this God of yours.

Posted by Jambe at July 5, 2012 12:07 AM

I'm not sure I understand your comment, Jambe. Did you actually like it, or would you just prefer stories not include God? I mean, they're all imaginary creatures, they're all fictional to the same degree. I'm trying to guess your capsule review of The Excorcist. "This story could've been told just as well without some silly 'Devil' being involved."

Posted by Dan at July 5, 2012 1:53 AM

Nice story and song.

Posted by blahdeedah at July 5, 2012 6:50 AM

to hell (believe in it or don't) to all militant atheists (re: jambe). just shut up and appreciate the story + song.

Posted by edgarcn at July 5, 2012 7:48 PM

I'm sorry. It was a pretty dickish post.

I don't intend offense; it's ultimately a personal taste issue with me. Given the context of the first paragraph, this whole thing seems to read as a "power of prayer" apologetics piece and I have a strong distaste for that kinda stuff.

I liked it; you're a good writer. I'm merely allergic to talk of "certainty" and "facts" wrt prayer, and it seems that the story could stand without that bit as a sort of coming-of-age piece about getting to grips with the absurdity and capriciousness of reality (one minute you're underfoot, essentially a prisoner, and the next in the thralls of youthful passion).

The Exorcist, on the other hand, is explicitly an OTT horror treatment of Catholic dogma; there -is- no story without the religious context. Perhaps your point is that The Exorcist is a supposed recollection of true events and that your piece is similarly a recounting of something that actually happened. I have no doubt that you really did pray and that you really did (and/or do) think that this particular prayer was answered. In that sense I asked you not to relate who you are as an individual, and that's a pretty dickish move on my part — again, I'm sorry.

Posted by Jambe at July 6, 2012 11:11 AM

Hey Jambe, don't worry about it. I think our disconnect lies in that you believe that I was writing a "true" story. As it says (in admittedly tiny font, in a place no one looks) in my bio, 99% of writing on here from me is fiction. If it reads like a "power of prayer" piece, it's because that inclination is present in the narrator's character. Anyway, I think we all agree that God is a fiction, albeit a very compelling one, and magic isn't real. But in stories, it can be.

Posted by Dan at July 6, 2012 1:56 PM

Well told, well conceptualized tale Dan. Your writing is consistently clever and heartfelt. Big fan.

And this is so not place for fanatic idealism, whether it be political, religious, or otherwise. Jambe, fiction does not need to be justified.

Posted by Adam at July 7, 2012 12:38 PM

this is my favorite story i've read on your blog. i've been following you guys since the spring of 2009. thank you for this. all of this.

Posted by marissa at July 9, 2012 2:39 AM

What a great story. And well written.

Posted by thinman at July 20, 2012 1:42 PM

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