Blog of literary hijinks and the dudnering whirl of expatriotic vitriole.

4.29.2006

those kind of jobs.

I take the second to last number nine, down ashland, so as not to wet my library loans. Today has been on and off, the rain, but mostly on when I am off, work.

There are two of us, the busdriver and i. I sit near the front because, secretly, I want to read this book aloud, if he would like to hear.

We could chew bubble gum and spit into the aisle and laugh until our eyes burn, until the third shift is over, until the end of the line.

He takes a transfer card from the trash and uses its lateral edges to wipe the beads of rainwater, amber and trembling, from the sideview mirror.

The city is having trouble breathing. The pigeons are huddled beneath the underpass. The disjointed doors open clatteringly and I descend

through the wordlessness,
without turning to watch
the wake close behind us.

4.22.2006

One.

There is a thermos filled with coffee between us on the bench seat. I had been standing out on the corner in the half-light. Two number twentytwos had passed, their disjointed doors clattering open, sucking up and spitting out weary passengers. I had pulled the black wool cap down over my ears and hid my neck between my shoulders. It is not that he had been late, but that I had been early. With one hand, ungloved, he fishes a crumpled soft pack of Newport’s from his coat chest pocket, extracts the lighter from the cellophane and brings a single, slightly bend cigarette to his lips. I open the window a hair. He hasn’t said anything, neither have i. Through the cracked windshield, he stares at the city. The city stares back. I think to myself that he is a part, a part and apart.

Two.

The street, in an area between the residential and industrial districts, isn’t really a dead end. Anyone can see that it stops at the tracks, at the cottonwoods that line the tracks, but few know that, there, it turns and continues up to the underpass. The neighbors agreed, for once, to put the sign up. The swelling, of traffic, has been reduced. Nobody has said anything. At the corner of the gravel lot in front of the employee entrance of the warehouse, we park beneath the two words, dead end, not one next to the other but stacked like the bunk beds.

Three.

There is time enough for another cigarette standing at the loading dock. This time he offers me one. A carpet of leaves hugs the pavement, concealing the city’s shatteredness, perhaps in a similar way that the three days’ growth covers his face. The moment of smoking is a softening, a softening of focus maybe, also obscuring the edges. A veil. Avail. The threads of smoke, lingering about our faces, braiding and tearing, are the words that we do not speak.

Four.

Door, coat rack, punchclock, in that order, because the company does not pay you to take off and put on your coat, is that clear? The morning light is starting to cascade through the barred windows, slits at the top of the wall, casting stripes upon the shelves and packing tables. The aisles are dark. Opposite, the wall between the office and the warehouse, with its two way mirror. Being seen without being able to see.

Five.

The trucks are late, the orders are backing up. The mirror between the door to the office and the warehouse shelves, with their shadowy aisles, is silent. It watches. Without blinking. The punchclock also watches, growling inaudibly. We have learned not to pay attention, like actors. We are playing ourselves.

Six.

He sifts through his pockets for the coins that he feeds into the breakroom vending machine, one by one. Pressing the worn button, he feels the resistance of its gritty springs in his fingertip. After some wheezing and sputtering, a Styrofoam cup descends onto the metal tray and fills with a muddy brown liquid. Leaning against the sink counter, he sips the coffee foam. Newspapers from other days of the week are scattered across the folding table. There are no windows here. He decides to work through lunch, to get out at a decent hour, he says.

Seven.

The radio, high up there on the sill of the small window, coated in dust, with its cord hanging down against the wall, within our reach, within the reach of the plug, is screaming for attention. Since nobody is listening, it grows desperate. Its monologue punctuates our routine, plugging its holes, taking whatever silence is left over, reaching us alternately, sometimes up close, sometimes distant.

Eight.

The hours are tapering. They get shorter when it gets busy. It seems too early to be late. But, we are standing on the fringe, in the aftermath of every day. Tape guns hang from wall nails. Box cutters gather on the packing table. The dollies line up at the receiving door. Look busy. Somebody grabs a pushbroom, somebody feeds cardboard to the bailer. The silent mirror watches us watch the punchclock, the coat rack, the door, yes, in that order.

Nine.

He is standing in the doorway, his silhouette is holding the door for me. We are expelled into the ashy parking lot, into other air. The pickup is waiting patiently where we left it. the coming darkness feels heavy like wet wool, like limbs after work. The city is having trouble breathing. It is expanding and contracting at the same time. Its eyes do not rest.

Ten.

This is where today starts being different from yesterday and tomorrow. We know that it is only a remainder, the little of what is left of the light. He puts his arm upon my shoulder and says,
“I will walk home
now we can breathe,” and eases the keys into my coat pocket.

4.11.2006

The burrowing Plata snake, renowned for its luminescent epidermis, its profound blindness and its uncanny ability to move through the Earth, as if it were swimming in the fold of a tranquil pond, effortlessly, beguilingly sinister, began as a legend. The townspeople feared it terribly, calling down violent imprecations on its behalf. They did not realize that another animal, the Patagonic goat sucker, had been the one terrorizing the children, digging holes at the edge of their garden fences. It was an understandable mistake and one that would wind up making all the difference.
The snake with a hissed lisp surreptiously asked, “is a duty ever also a crime?”, and fled without leaving a wake other than its interlocking scales, its shed mail, as an only testimony. But, the kudzu still strangled the lightposts, still wrapped the curbside lindens, still padded the red mattress wire fences. Nobody thought to look. The streetstones no longer fit together. The sunlight no longer reached the pavement, the buildings had grown far too high. The children swore not to tell what they knew. From moldy highrise corridors, under the pretext of playing distracting games, they spied the city spying them.
The Patagonic goat sucker, after all, was not unknown to them. Out on the edges, away from the heart of the town where the buildings grew taller and taller with their windows like mirrors protecting them from view, where the broken down little shacks of the farmers stood under the shade of the old Oak trees, planted by their ancestors, a new breed of settler that came from the East in ships with their squares and parallelograms and paisley ideas of order, with their dreams of rows of maize like columns of the Kings army that disappeared into the line where the sun broke into disks, and further beyond, the open graze lands for their cattle which chewed dumbly in deep meditation and where, on occasion, they met their unfortunate and untimely demise at the fierce, swiping claws of the green-eyed Patagonic goat sucker. In fact, the moniker was a misnomer. The Patagonic goat sucker did not like goats at all. Hated the taste of the gamey, stringy meat. At first the goat sucker had remained at the far extremes of the wire perimeters for the cattle, which apparently posed little difficulty for them to traverse. Each day, each year, their hunger seemed to grow, and along with it, their bravery. They inched closer through the fields to the gardens and then, at the edges of the town where the children played their games in the warm afternoons until small groups of them could be seen, at dusk, their eyes flashing like little green suns between the corn stalks and their long, sharp claws glinting in the rising moonlight as they waved them at the cattle whom they gravely approached. Though the situation had grown worse through the years, it had not become anything more than a nuisance as a greater importance had been placed on the harvest from the children’s gardens.

This is a work by Jim Young, copywright protected.

She was the violence-honed woman I needed, but she was too dumb. She
envied and admired me for my great palace goodness and calm, hating the
impotence which, however, she refused to help me get rid of. She just
admired my calmness and great good mind without thinking it encumbent
on her to help me bring it to action.
Then we met a very hardened, incredible man whose violence was
accompanied by an intelligence equal to mine. He could see what our
situation was at once, and I could see that he saw it. I almost dared
not ask him what he would do. He scoffed at us, yet it was my pride to
have held him, not quailing away from the violence he had ready for me.
And the contempt.
"I've had a thousand girls like Rennie," he finally consented to
admit wearily. He hated taking time to instruct me. It was not fair:
I had had the privilege, whereas he had earned his way. Also, he was
uncertain that my mind did not contain some kind of magic he had not
thought about.
He is caught up with a very well-established, intelligent woman and
does not want to jeopardize that by helping me with Rennie.
"I could fuck her for you, would that help?" I looked away in angry
embarrassment and despair.
He took pity on me, but warily; I could see he was worried that,
should I snatch his ability deceitfully the way the powerful and
privileged had snatched everything else, I might forget about him
altogether.
What did he want? To become powerful, smug and blind, like me?
Living among the technologues and mechanics, who coddled you, told you
there was no need for violence from a guy like yourself, so talented
you were in running the numbers, arranging the pieces and parts.