MAY 2009

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A Flock of Birds, Thick
By Brent DeLanoy, Mar 20, 2009

It was February when I slid off an icy road, into a tree, surprised by a flock of birds mingling near the center line, probably migrating north after a long winter in Cabo, lounging by the pool, drinking at a hotel bar situated in the center of a white-sand beach—a thatched-roof hut—erected by two underpaid and under-qualified laborers, shirtless now and sitting, ogling tourists and cursing in Spanish and drinking piña-coladas which, incidentally, are watered down and served to cruise-shippers and bargain shoppers who wouldn’t know a good piña-colada if it came up and bit them in the balls. Because they’ve never had the piña-coladas at Sergio’s in Puerto Piñasco, which is where my wife and I spent our first and third honeymoons, the second spent at a ski lodge in the northern Adirondacks, nursing vodka-and-hot-chocolate and sore legs because we weren’t nearly as good at skiing as we thought we were, because we were seeking something novel—all while pining for Sergio because he manages to mix the coconut perfectly and you just can’t help but think, son-of-a-bitch, I wouldn’t mind dying now. My wife, drink, water gently lapping at my feet while I lounge in plastic lawn furniture and a wandering guitar player with an impossibly deep voice sings a song in a language I don’t understand, which makes the song better, so, yes, I have wished for death—pined for it in weaker moments when I didn’t want to go home, when we were in that hotel suite near Sergio with the cracks in the walls where she put tea-lights in desperate, amorous moments, those moments, the way the sun woke us up on the third morning of the third honeymoon because there weren’t any blinds on the windows and the way she said, “Let’s just stop here,” because, what a way to stop. A flock of birds, thick as Mexican gas-station coffee, clustered in the middle of the road for no good reason.

They left too early. They left too early and winter wasn’t finished with the rest of us.

Brent DeLanoy graduated from the New Mexico State University MFA program a few years ago and has been teaching in upstate New York ever since. His other work has appeared in Thieves Jargon and his novella, Benediction, recently won the A.E. Coppard Prize. When he’s not writing, or playing with his son, or teaching, he’s desperately trying to get an old BMW motorcycle back on the road.

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