Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

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Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Great Ice Storm of Aught-Aught

He closed his eyes. God, that hurt. He was lying on his back, limbs akimbo, on the parking lot of a McDonald's somewhere in Little Rock, Arkansas.

He had accepted his aunt's invitation to spend a few days with her, and he'd had the itch to road-trip; it was nice to have a destination, for once. It was late February, so the visit would coincide with his birthday, and if she wanted to give him a gift, then hey bonus. It was a twelve hour drive under ordinary circumstances, but soon the rules changed. First heavy rain, then sleet, then sheets of ice basically plummeting from the sky pelted the roadway, his vehicle, and the whole cursed planet in general. He crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas, holding his breath as his car just barely summoned the traction to climb the long span and then refrain from sliding down the west slope. He saw more and more vehicles on the side of the highway, saw many people slide into the median all around him. Having a great deal more winter driving experience than the good folks here in Cracker Heaven, he managed to stay pointed forward and rolling, but it was difficult with all these unguided missiles careening around the frozen pavement.

On the eastern edge of the city, he saw what disaster looked like. There before him was a massive interchange where three freeways met. There were semi-trucks jackknifed every quarter mile or so. There were cars sliding, slid, aaaand gone over the edge into the median or the verge. Cars trying to climb the long ramps reached a point of no return, tires smoking as gravity drew them back down to collide into each other, pushing a daisy chain of vehicles back to the level ground. Miraculously, his common sense woke up and guided him through the chaos, his senses sharpened to painful alertness. He did not go up, but always down; he got off the freeway and onto the downtown surface streets. It was slow, oh so slow, but he threaded his way through the heart of the city, skidding slightly sometimes but always managing to straighten the wheel and push on. But he didn't have directions from wherever the hell he was to his aunt's house, so he pulled into a McDonald's parking lot. There were no other cars; the restaurant was closed and dark at 11 AM on a Tuesday. Ice encrusted every tree branch and every power line, pulling them downward like a slingshot before the sproing. He saw a pay phone, stopped the car with some difficulty, got out, and promptly fell on his ass, foot sliding out from under him like a cartoon character.

So he made the call, got the directions, rolled through the minefields of Southern drivers to his aunt's house. An hour later, the power went out. He stayed for three days, three days of woodburning stoves. sandwich suppers and candlelit Scrabble games. The power came back on an hour after he left for home.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Zoicks, and Away

'Twas midnight on the ocean, not a boxcar was in sight
I stepped into a pawnshop to get myself a light
The man behind the counter was a woman old and gray
Who used to peddle shoestrings on the road to Mandalay

"Good evening, sir," the woman said, her eyes were filled with tears
She stuck her head between her legs and stayed that way for years
Her children six were orphans, all except the tiny tot
Who lived in the house across the street above the vacant lot

'Twas the song the alligators sang while coming through the rye
To serenade the elephants up in the trees so high
The iceman hummed their ditty as he shoveled in the coal
And the monkeys joined the chorus up around the northern pole

While the organ pealed potatoes, lard was rendered by the choir
As the sexton rang the dishrag, someone set the church on fire
"Holy smoke!" the preacher shouted, in the rush he lost his hair
Now his head resembles heaven, for there is no parting there

Can you tell a man who's just struck gold to straighten up his tie?
Can the mighty master yodeler chuck wood as well as I?
Can the sticky solemn ciphers leave their handprints in the snow?
The tests are underway, you'll be among the first to know

For Elsie