Everything Stuck To Him, Part VI
Everything Stuck To Him: “A Box of Donuts”
Ray had been working on the new poetry manuscript at a manic pace that gray November morning. He had already outlived the estimates of the experts, the oncologists and all the other diagnosticians who had given him a six-month expiration date, like some fucking thing on a grocery shelf. He proved their words were lies and now he had to defy their collective medical wisdom and hang on long enough to complete what would be his last book of original poetry.
When she went to Safeway that morning for their dinner shopping, Lorraine later recalled, she bought a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, glazed, for Ray as an appreciation for all the hard work he was doing, not just on the book but on staying alive. She had conflicted emotions over the thought that she would be the one reaping the financial windfall, a posthumous release of new poetry by Ray after a three-year absence would be an immediate bestseller in its genre, a limited genre in terms of the buying public, to be sure, but the utility bills would remain paid for at least a year. She knew she was never going to find another man after Ray passed and she had no inclination to change the course of that river.
On that morning, Lorraine told one of Ray’s biographers, she picked up a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for Ray. When she returned home with the groceries for that evening’s dinner — beef chuck pot roast, red potatoes, carrots, salad — Ray took a break from assembling the manuscript and put on a pot of coffee while Lorraine put the groceries away.
Ray was delighted by the donuts (“delighted as a child” Lorraine told The Paris Review in a 2006 interview) and immediately poured himself a cup of coffee and pulled a small plate from the cupboard for his donuts. He examined the box, smiled softly, and read aloud: “Krispy Kreme cake doughnuts: Doughnuts and coffee since 1937.”
Ray sniffed at the air as if absorbing the scent of the sweetest rose. “Ah, doesn’t it make you long for the old days?” Ray said, the donut box still clutched in his hands. “You go into a diner and get a sinker and a cup of joe for a nickel and you talk up the day’s events with Doris, the blonde waitress behind the counter, the one who’s always bored and has nothing to say about anything anyway. Those days …”
Ray quietly put the donut box down on the kitchen counter and looked absently at the tiled floor, admiring the deep red hue for the first time. “What am I saying? Those aren’t my memories, that was someone else’s life.”