“Remembering Paul” by Richard Gilbert appears in the current issue—Spring & Summer 2009—of Memoir (and), now moving onto the newstands, and will be available for several months on line. Set in an extended scene during an October day in which I clean out our barn alone for the first time, the essay explores loss and an unlikely relationship that bridges the gap between an outsider to Appalachia and a local man.
“Now I’m hot, sweating, and I head to the house to change my shirt. It occurs to me that Paul would be removing his twill work jacket at this point. He would dust off a spot and neatly fold the garment, an antique bluish green that matched his creased work trousers. Paul was a neatnik and abhorred messes. “Dirty, filthy things,” Paul would say of groundhogs, blackbirds, and even svelte deer—anything that threatened his orderly lawn and garden or disturbed his peace of mind as he watched his bird feeder.
“I’d hear gunshots from his house across the road as another varmint bit the dust.”