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Parking Ticket

Telluride after eleven is hiding people.

Walking from the engagement party now. The silence of the mountain night suggesting an hour outside of the clock, an hour so late it peels from regular time. But it's only eleven thirty. Maybe not even that.

I walk south, downhill. When I cross Main Street and look east, toward the thickest part of town; that's when I see the facades and think how frozen they are. Buildings, storefronts, but nothing else. No movement. No people. But they're in there... Well, a County Sheriff's cruiser glides toward me, silent, as if on momentum alone. I suddenly feel like laughing. There's no reason to patrol Telluride Main Street. Sometimes a guy will be drunk and loud. But those guys go away before it occurs to you to complain.

Turning right, onto Pacific, I'm now on a residential street. A slim street lined with cars on both sides and dead silent all the way down. There's nowhere to park in Telluride. Don gave me a permit for my car, which is ahead, parked in front of his house. But I'm afraid to take my car anywhere; I might not find a spot near Don's house when I got back.

Jenna. Abby. For about a block Jenna wins. I've got her phone number in my pocket and I'll call her tomorrow--

--Fuck. A guy walks past me, on my left. The only person I've seen during my entire walk from the engagement party. His hands are stuffed in his jacket pockets and he's tall and he's leaning forward, but I don't see his face because he just materialized right up on me and blew right by. I never even heard his footsteps. I was feeling good, but now my heart is beating fast and not in a good way.

A parking ticket is wedged under my car’s windshield wiper.

I see it as I approach the car. But I have a permit. Don gave me one. It's right there, hanging from the rearview mirror.

Getting a ticket bothers me. It's not the money. It's that I'm worn out from all the socializing, which isn't easy for me, and I was letting that go and wrapping myself in thoughts of Jenna, but now there's this ticket and that guy who startled me. Where is he anyway? I can't see him anymore. I grab the ticket from under the wiper blade and am all the way to the front porch before I realize that I'm not looking at a parking ticket at all.

63923. Written with a pen on a piece of paper torn from a larger sheet. Nothing more. The numbers mean nothing to me.

Inside the house now. Don is asleep on the couch. ESPN, muted. Did he mute the sound before he fell asleep? In the kitchen I get a glass of water to take up to my room. It's sometime after that, when I'm turning off the light, that I realize that I left the paper with the numbers on it down in the kitchen. Too tired to go get it. It's a mistake, leaving it down there. It's such an inconsequential little scrap, Don might throw it out, but he probably won't.

Thinking now about how Jenna said she cleaned Bo Cunningham's house a few times. And then how later, as I was leaving, she said Don't tell anyone I said I cleaned that guy's house.

It only takes one mistake, I guess. Must think more about mistakes.

After the lights are off I can see out the window. Flecks of something drift by. Maybe there's a fire somewhere. Or it's snowing. In August. This place is unknowable.

I should pass out quick, but I don't.

That's another thing about Telluride in August: at night you can lay in bed with the window open and listen to bears knocking over trash cans in the alley. A bear knocks over a trash can just as I'm falling asleep. A bear. Out there in the alley.

© Mark Dodson

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