Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday is a wash day

Indoors just like the house spider living behind the electrical box in the washroom. I want to be reconciled to the world as I find it, as mysterious as a glowing rock. Across the street, an American flag flutters in the rainy breeze as the brothers' German Shepherd paces in her fenced-in run. She's left out in all kinds of weather, unless the temperature goes down below zero. At night she barks at any movement in the bushes -- could be a possum or a coon or one of the feral cats that prowl around here killing birds for sport.

They've got their fire going -- blue-white smoke pours out of the stone chimney -- against the cold and damp. I call them the Brothers Grimm because they never smile. They're completely gray, their complexion, hair, and clothes. Even their house is sheathed in gray shingles. The older one is rail thin. He lives on cigarettes, Chinese takeout and Bud Lite. Every once in a while he'll give a half-hearted wave of greeting when he spots me going down to the mailbox. His younger brother has got a little more meat on his frame and a mouth like a cesspool. I can hear him curse in the otherwise peaceful and cold predawn mornings when his car doesn't start right away. It's a silvery gray Chevy Aveo; it looks like every other compact car on the road. I think his name is Jimmy. That's what the guy next door calls him, but then again the guy next door calls me Bud.

The skinny one drives a red Chevy Colorado. He also leaves for work before the sun comes up, even in the summer, sometime around four-thirty. Maybe they do maintenance work or maybe they're deliverymen, wearing their gray uniforms and black work shoes. One of them has a daughter who often stays for a few days as she recovers from one of her relationships gone bad. I caught her one morning standing in the middle of the street in red pajama bottoms and a sweat shirt screaming at a mustachioed young man sitting in a beat-up black Nissan Altima. She swung her arms around and kicked at his fender. He was pleading with her to come back. She was having none of it. "Go to hell. You'll never see me again. You wanna screw somebody? Go screw yourself."

She's an attractive brunette in her mid-twenties, a little pudgy and pale, but she can't seem to settle on a man. I guess it's slim pickins up here -- the guys she hooks up with don't have any money or manners. Is it their fault? Jobs are hard to come by. The schools suck. Families rarely stay together. Maybe they used to be able to make a few bucks hanging around construction sites doing odd jobs but that business has dried up. There's a surplus of laborers around these days. She works in the registrar's office at the Community College over in Newton, but that doesn't mean she's got enough money to support a man as well as herself. And these guys are so needy -- you give them some cash and they'll go out and get stoned. Losers. There's nothing romantic about neediness, constant bullshit, or the inescapable boredom of sitting around doing nothing. She stands there out of breath as the Nissan pulls away reluctantly. The Brothers Grimm sit inside the little gray house watching the NFL Game. One gets up, looks out through the living room window to make sure she's alright, goes over to throw another couple of logs on the fire. Silently I urge her on -- I'd love to see her pick up a rock and throw it through the back window of the retreating car. Instead, she crumples and starts to cry. Something is melting down in her brain.

The dryer's buzzer goes off -- the load is done. As I collect the white clothes and take them to the folding table, little Miss Spider comes out from behind her box to look at me. Noiseless, patient. Hers is the kingdom. Outside the rain picks up again. I keep wondering, poot, who amongst us is actually living the life they deserve?

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