Monday, October 30, 2006

Parking Lot Cowboy Bouncer

He sits there on the tailgate of his pickup truck, daring you to park. Got official bank business? You'd better. This here parkin' lot's just fer bankin', he growls. Just fer Western bankin', that is.

He's got his cowboy hat tilted just so. Is that tobacco he's chewing? Holy shit, somebody still does that! Day in, day out, this here parkin's just fer bankin'.

There's other parkin' roun' the corner. Yeah, so why can't the friggin' bank customers park over there?

This here parkin' lot's re-served.

If you ain't bankin', they gonna tow yo' ass.

Damn straight.

Okay, so I went into the bank and snuck out the side door where the bouncer couldn't see me. Came back twenty minutes later.

Fine day for bankin', I told him.

Reckon so, he replied.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Mailbox Cleaner

He sneaks around the neighborhood, looking for junk. Any kind of junk, but nothing that would pay. He's not interested in recycling. He's not about waste management. He's just into the redistribution of junk. There's an aesthetic sense about him. He sees the world as a random collection of items, each insignificant, but each with a place. The place it belongs always changes. His work is never complete.

He's logged into the world. Here I am. And being logged in, the world is his canvas, and its objects all his to arrange. Big items don't move. He will not hurt his back. An experiment once with a pinball machine was enough to establish that rule. Cars are all junk but he pays them no mind. There, a shoebox, a red one, why is that in the doorway? It doesn't belong in that spot. No one sees so he grabs it and stuffs it inside the big yellow bag he is carrying around just for that.

PLain old trash isn't good. It should just be picked up. It's not junk it's just garbage, it's crap. He will only seek out the real lost and real missing, the real out of sorts sort of a thing. Like a key that's on top of a mailbox. That's something you don't see every day. That key must go somewhere. Else.

He's not shabby, you know, he doesn't look bad, doesn't smell. He's eccentric, okay, rides a unicycle at times. He shaves every tuesday and thursday. His clothes have been washed. His shoes have been shined. He looks very much sixty years old. He has lived in the city forever. He knows every door, every alley. Down that way he thinks he just might find a place for this out of place shoebox, yes, there. Right next to the mattress tucked into the dumpster, and the green carpet sticking right up. Green and red, red and green, small and big, big and small. He steps back, takes a look, like you would in museums. Does it fit? Does it go in this light?

The kids call him names and he likes it. 'Mailbox Cleaner' one said and it stuck. One thing's as good as another when it comes to what you call things. He likes his potatoes deep fried. And salty. And buttered. No chives.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Terrible Gardener

Nothing she plants ever grows, but you will always find her out there, in the garden. She dug up the old stuff that used to bloom, ridiculous roses with colors and smells, tulips of every shade, azaleas, impatiens and sage. They had the habit of having been planted by someone else, and so they had to go.

She has made a path through her weeds, a path made of rocks with sharp edges that wobble. No one ever uses this path. Instead, they tiptoe and crush the surrounding ivy.

There are trees in the yard, all sickly and small. They don't really belong in this climate.

She has pots full of plants that had started out nicely - but that was before she bought them. In the nursery they thrived and looked forward to futures of sunlight and water and growth. Once home they began to shrivel and droop. She talks to them lovingly each night.

Here and there are projects abandoned, a vineyard, a shrubbery, a greenhouse. All lie fallow from behind the grey walls and are mercifully hidden from traffic.

The children pass by and peer through the hedges. Doesn't anything ever thrive in that place? Oh yes, things with thorns and with poisonous berries, things the deer hate and gophers don't dig. Dandelions especially call the yard home, and ivy, and tree-choking vines.

She has specialty gloves and specialty tools. She especially loves the wet weather. She can dig and get muddy, and wallow in roots, and generally wreak devastation.