Either the Beginning or the End of the World

Either the Beginning or the End of the World by Terry Farish Read Free Book Online

Book: Either the Beginning or the End of the World by Terry Farish Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terry Farish
allows haze from the moon to seep through. The moon is waning but bright.
    â€œYou’re cold,” Luke says, beside my father’s truck.
    â€œI’m scared,” I say.
    â€œOf me?”
    I shake my head.
    â€œShould I go?”
    â€œJesus,” I whisper. “You better stay.”
    Then a laugh, a roaring laugh. We are nothing like we were on the beach in the snow and splotchy sunrise, when I was in shock over the gun and then lost with him. He is laughing. “Aren’t you your father’s daughter. Jesus . On the boat it’s like he’s calling up the spirits.”
    I smile. My father’s daughter. Luke drops his boot to the ground. We face each other. He is laughing, but his hand shakes until he rests it low, on his thigh.
    â€œCome on,” he says.
    Yes, I think. “Where?”
    â€œGet some food.”
    It seems natural to go. I’ve been waiting for this. We get in his car. The seat cracks with cold, and I wonder how long he’d been standing with his boot on my runner. We drive out of the streetlights of the city, heading east. We pass the cemetery and follow out the dark roads and I know where these roads are leading, toward the ocean. We follow along the road that hugs the ocean in the winter dark and can hear the waves beat on the rocks as the tide crashes in. We are silent. It’s late, and we’ve come so far, but my father will be asleep and when we come to Hampton Beach, I feel like I am the only place I could possibly be tonight. I know the beach, the strip. Rosa and I have come here all our lives to the shops and arcade along the boardwalk.
    Luke pulls into one of the diagonal parking slots. I take him in as we walk. He’s wearing a jacket that swings open over a thick, navy blue sweater, a baseball cap. He gives me a crooked smile as we walk along the strip. That’s what they call the stretch of Ocean Boulevard with the boardwalk and Blinks Fry Dough, the casino, bead shops with shells and stones from all the wide world, Jerri’s Breakfast, Ice Cream, Subs. Toe rings. On Memorial Day, in the crush of people, the police start patrolling. Break up the rowdies. Track the walkaways and reunite them with their moms.
    â€œNo place open,” I say.
    â€œOne place. Ways to go. I just like walking the strip.”
    We keep walking. It’s natural. Like we do this. I have school, Mrs. Bennett’s cream filled, then race down the boardwalk with the soldier. We come to the arcade where you can put a quarter in to get the mannequin fortune teller to turn her gray head and spit out your fortune on a card, arcade games, shooting gallery, bowling lanes.
    The arcade is closed. Light snow falls against the shuttered wall.
    â€œI want you to listen and listen tight,” I imitate the words that play on a loop in the shooting gallery. “I want you to shoot it and shoot it right,” I recite. “It’s the gunfighter in the shooting gallery.”
    â€œFirst weapon I fired when I was a kid. My friends and I used to come up from Nashua,” Luke says. “I always went for the piano player.”
    â€œAnd the piano plays jive.”
    Then we list all the animated creatures in the shooting gallery and the sounds they make when you shoot them with laser guns on their small triangle targets.
    â€œThe bear . . .”
    â€œGrowls,” I say.
    â€œThe clown . . .”
    â€œHis nose flashes.”
    I am laughing.
    It’s okay. He is okay about the bridge. And the pier. And the gun. He is okay talking about a shooting gallery everybody in the Merrimack Valley and everybody from the Seacoast over generations—the Italians, the Scots, even the Cambodians,
    everybody—knows. It’s our history.
    Luke knocks his cap down half over his eyes. “Where the hell did you come from?” he teases.
    We cross the streets, D Street, C Street, B. “I walk the strip a lot,” he says. We come to the

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