More work this morning on "Big Bob and Little Bob," which is in The Solution to the World's Problems: Surprising Tales of Relentless Joy. This is an unreal work of art. It's now 7200 words. There is no comparison between what this is and any other fiction being produced in the world.
Sometimes Big Bob and Terry’s daughter, Debbie, was there and sometimes she wasn’t. She was older, but her age was relative in its way, too. She had her living to do, with friends and boys. More likely she’d be around for a while, but not the whole time, a person whose fullness you felt both when they were present and after they had gone.
There was always music at some point over at the Little Bob’s, which would have been the case at the Big Bob’s or our house as well, only we didn’t have pianos. The music just seemed to start. Little Bob would imperceptibly—but openly—find his way to his piano bench between games, or as the coffee was being served, and Pamela never failed to take up her spot next to Big Bob.
Nothing had been stated or planned, the same as with the lawn between the houses of the Big Bobs and the Little Bobs and how it got cut. It simply happened the way it should.
Big Bob was a man who had a studious, immersive relationship with life. He held his large frame still and listened for bird calls in his yard when he was out raking the leaves, intent on knowing what bird was responsible for what sound from what tree, and what that bird might have wanted or been saying, or whether it was just making a beautiful song—because it was able to—as a contribution to the world. This mattered to him, which made you realize that it mattered in and of itself, and there was more going on around you than you knew, unless you took the care to know.
When Pamela pulled up her hassock and gotten herself in place alongside her buddy, it was as if the music, having begun its process of beginning with a few shimmering notes, was otherwise freer than it would have been—which was no knock on Little Bob’s considerable gifts—to express itself fully. Or that now, with the proper alignment in place, Big Bob was ready to hear it for what it was, and music could completely be music, friends were friends, and life was life.