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.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Metal Rim of Justice

He pushed his little brother out of the way, and moved another brick. He'd seen them, stacked there on the back of the little trailer in the neighbor's yard, and thought they'd be just the thing to support his grand sandbox castle plans. He was six, and lord of all he surveyed. He had no regard for homestead boundaries, treating the entire city block as his carnivale fiefdom. He would off-road his bike across multiple backyards, cursing the Dingers for their unfriendly chain link. He would drift over to the Klingenbergs and pump the two person see saw thing toward the sky, thrilling at the creak of slightly rusty metal. He'd once ridden his bike clear across town; his mother had freaked out, called the cops, but he'd just been puzzled: he may have been more than a mile from home, but HE knew exactly where HE was. Didn't they?

And now, he coveted his neighbor's cinder blocks. Oof, heavy. He carried it over, slid it between the beams of the split rail fence into his yard. His brother pinballed around, giggling for no apparent reason. His cousins, Hope and Travis, told him he was gonna get in trouble while they helped tote bricks. Travis lifted a brick off the back end, and suddenly there was only room in his life for pain. The bricks were holding the little trailer in place; without ballast, the front end came teeter-tottering in his direction, the metal edge of the box frame coming right down upon his big toe, smashing the nail into a bloody pulp. Hope ran screaming in the house, both repulsed and delighted to have bad news to bear. Just before he fainted, he had a thought: maybe I'm not the smartest person in the world, after all. He'd always remember this first lesson, this first hubristic explosion, this first karmic smackdown. But it didn't keep him from learning the same painful lesson, over and over and over, for the rest of his life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Can You Hear Me, Major Tom?

It had cooled off a little after last night's rain, but less-hot did not equal not-hot. He was zipping around the warehouse on his favorite little standup forklift, making up for the slowdown of age with greater efficiency, stackin' them skids with all the skill and ingenuity that he could find no other outlet for in his life. Everyone else was outside on break, puffing their cancer sticks, stretching a 15 minute interval into 20 and then 25. He got a beep on his cel from the supervisor: "hey, get out here, my dad called and said the space shuttle is going over us at 10:33!"

He drove up to the front and walked outdoors. All five of them stood in the parking lot, looking to the northwest. "Is that it?" "No, it's moving too slow. Must be a helicopter." "How bout that?" "That's the North Star, you dumbass." But then they saw it, undeniably, unstoppably streaking across the night sky, through the still-purplish early evening clouds. A pair--pair?--of bright lights, cutting diagonally across their small patch of earth with a sense of direction, of purpose, of excitement. He could feel the ambitions of his betters pushing him downward into the asphalt as the best of America streaked past. In less than a minute, it was out of sight to the southeast.

He sighed, went back inside, took a big swig of Coke Zero out of the 2 liter in the fridge, and resumed doing the dumb things he had to do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Encounters With Gurls

He took a seat, legs crossed under him, in the dorm's common room. First day of orientation, and his head was spinning, disoriented. A girl sat down next to him, and smiled. She had big freckles, a big nose, remarkably big feet, and an infectiously big grin. "So, hey. Where ya from? You look like you're gonna hurl." He was not going to, but gee, nice to know he looked like he might. He endeavored to look healthier while engaging her in small talk: hometowns, possible majors, impressions of the campus. After the meeting, he walked up to his room, and was surprised to find her on his heels. "Is your room this way too?" "No." She leaned in and kissed him. It was his first kiss. He closed his eyes and leaned into it. Then, she came into his room, all his stuff still in a pile on his yet-to-arrive roommate's bed, and some other firsts happened.

He walked into the restaurant, nervous, legs shaking a little, hoping it wasn't noticeable. He peered closely at the, not her. He gathered up a salad, took a seat, and tried not to be too obvious with his round-room neck-craning. It was his first time meeting a girl he'd been talking to on the net and the phone for months now, but he'd only seen a few photographs, all a bit different. While he crunched his croutons, scanning to the left, she slipped into his booth. She worked here. God, she looked as nervous as he did, but she wore it well. Her hair was blonde now, and a little longer. She slid her hand across the table. He took it. ""Very nice to meet you at last," he said. She smiled, and arrythmia happened. He was in town for a week, and at the end, she decided she'd been wrong, she was not in love, she was not about to change her life. She lived in a trailer with her parents, both of whom were named Tommy; she worked as a waitress in a buffet restaurant, her college career as stymied as his; she'd been having as rough a life as he, if not rougher. But he still wasn't good enough for her.

He answered the phone. Familiar chirping "HEL-lo." Crazy desert girl ringing. They'd first "met" years before, when he had no business talking to her, becoming her friend, her distant confessor and sounding board. He had put a stop to it, asking her not to call or IM, hoping to meet someone in his own county and age range, knowing full well how to-the-moon unlikely THAT was. But then, out of the blue several years later, an e mail. Older, a bit sadder but a bid saner, wanting to reconnect. Commiserations, remonstrations and Supertramp songs flew back and forth. But then he sang his magic song, and the game changed. She made plans. He tried really hard not to freak the hell right out. But he needed turmoil, and he needed it soon. Doot de doo.