Monday, September 9, 2013
A Day: Part 3
The work was monotonous and labor intensive. For Jed and Zeke it was mindless and off balance, their thoughts never able to sync with their movements. The other workers did not trust Jed or Zeke with anything other than a shovel. The way they wielded their shovels never reached the natural fluidity it could have because neither of them seemed interested or even able to focus on the task they had at hand. Through out the day Zeke wandered off to the grass and sat quietly, next to his shovel, sometimes staring at his phone. All of the workers, including Jed, did not react to these impromptu breaks. Most of them must have believed the most useful thing Zeke could do was be useless and out of the way.
Shoveling rubble. Your arms plunge the spade into the pile of drywall. Push the wood or plastic handle down. The bent metal plate angles upwards and scoops chunks of chalky compressed dust. You should be wearing a respirator, but you try not to think too much about what you are actually breathing most of the time. This fascination and misery is not a train of thought you enjoy dwelling on. Focus on the work. Focus on your form. Focus on the grace of the arc as your arms shift. Straighten your core as you catapult the shovel 180 degrees into the dumpster. An explosion of dust from with in the receptacle. A direct hit.
This is satisfying work. It is a sunny day and you are working outside, not sitting in an air conditioned office, wondering what you could be typing or clicking on to prove what you are doing is really work. Only the frame of the collapsed building you stand within remains.
You are sweating profusely. It is in these moments you are glad you sweat a lot. If you were in the desert it would be a problem. You drink a gallon of water on a full work day and try to remember to bring a salty snack. When you work like this in wooded areas, cutting down trees, slowing razing and leveling the Earth, there is usually a cooler provided with juice, Gatorade, and water. The work crew mix and match different liquids, all in an attempt to level out their ideal Ph levels. After an hour or so of physical labor you always become stretched, calm, lucid in body and mind. Every drink is the best drink no matter what you're drinking.
You get an hour for lunch. There is a reason you see a lot of work crews at buffets. Chinese buffets, Indian buffets, American buffets. Mexican restaurants with portions suspiciously large for the price you paid, but the food is almost always delicious and satisfying. Some times it makes you gassy and flatulent, but who cares? You're working outside. The crews are hungry and eager to eat. What could be better after the first half of a hard days work? Huevos Rancheros at Taco Rico. The pretty Latin waitress filled your water glass five times because you brought only a small water bottle to the work site. Your boss or who you believe to be your boss asked how much you paid for the bottle of water. He was sort of smiling and you knew he was mocking you. Drink it from the tap. You bought it for the bottle manufactured in China. It was not the time to discuss this because there was work to be done. You didn't think ahead and you can refill the bottle and its only a buck and some change. You smiled and said thank you to the pretty Latin waitress and always made eye contact when she came to the table. You were damp and dirty, but why not be a gentleman?
Jed ate his chicken burrito furiously and without much table etiquette. Clumps of yellow rice and pinto beans spilled from the tortilla, down to the wax paper on his platter, creating sporadic and snared tapping noises. Zeke picked at his tacos, untrustworthy of the meats origin. He told Jed, several times during lunch, he should have ordered the chicken fingers.
After lunch, the entire work crew became as sluggish as Jed, but not nearly as sluggish as Zeke. No one else would ever dare to be as sluggish as Zeke, not as experienced workers. All the crew was digesting their meal. You let yourself admit, after the sixth or seventh hour, this work has become tiresome. You, all of you except maybe Zeke, finish your final hour of work, some of you with complaint, some without. Acid slowly seeped into the muscles of your arms and legs and core. You are tired.
Tom, with the thick glasses and streaks of gray hair, asked you if would like to join him and the crew for a beer after work. He always has a work belt on with an array of tools he carries, but never uses. You smile. You are tired and want to see your baby. You want to see your baby's mother, who you now live with and casually flirt with, mildly. You want to go home and kiss your child and flirt with your child's mother. There is a reason.
Not tonight. Not this night. There is a reason.
"Some other time" you said.
At home you kissed your baby's mother, Sheena. She showed you a picture of baby Tyrone. You are use to seeing them. You usually go through the motions: look at the phone screen for five seconds, bring a smile to your face, look up and quickly kiss her on the lips and look into her eyes and then say "I'm going to check on Tyrone." You walk down the hall that will soon be decorated with pictures of Tyrone, framed in frames you and Sheena found that fit the printed pictures of Tyrone, once you and Sheena finally settle into the new place. This new place will be your home. A place where you will make a life. One hundred years of solitude.
They tore down the old hospital. They tore down the Victorian funeral parlor, gated up with vagrants finding solace within the slowly deteriorating structure, built wide then upwards in ever narrower steppes. The sinew and skeleton of attempted geometry merges with a spiraled structure draped in shingles like dragon scales. Russian spires of subdued hues of light pink and lime green, so long all sooty and gray. They tore it down and you helped them. Because you helped them, they will want you and your opinion on how we should rebuild it all. Make it right, finally. They are building angled buildings across the river and waves of concrete roads across the land again. We are ready for another golden age and you will be there, ready and willing to build.
You stopped and Sheena stopped. You stared at her phone longer than you usually do. This picture of Tyrone, with its light and its shadow over a plump chocolate face, concerned, worried, frustrated. A picture of a brooding black baby boy.
You stared at Tyrone from the doorway in his centralized crib. Light cast shadows of you, then his mother towards him. You stared at Tyrone with your left arm around Sheena's waist.
You went to the bed you intended to sleep in that night and prayed to your reason that you would not raise a Zeke and would be a little bit harder on a Jed. You cried. Sheena and you looked on at Tyrone from the doorway. Both stared at baby Tyrone, smiling, your arm around Sheena's waist.
Remember innocence sometimes. It's scary how long it takes these days.
"Sheena, be with me." You muttered.
You kissed her lips.
"He's young and will be perfect."
You kissed her again.
Sleep tonight, baby Tyrone.
Last week, They said there was something wrong with your brain. You do not like to think about it..
Aaron C. Molden