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.

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