Butternut

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My situation is over whelming. Too many distractions

I come home from work. I’m dirty and I stink. It’s August. Everyone honest is dirty and stinks like an animal in August.

After I wash my hands again, I heat myself up some coffee in the microwave (that fucking microwave, it only ever gets used to re-heat black coffee and to cook sweet potatoes and oatmeal.)I’ve reached a critical decision on the drive home.I need a desk.

I  don’t have a desk, and that’s a problem. See, I used to have a desk, some place where I sat and did my work. Where I wrote. I haven’t had a desk for a few years. I’ve been doing my writing at the kitchen table. I’ve been doing my writing on the living room couch sitting Indian style like Schroeder playing the piano. Not good.

So, after my coffee, I go into my spare room and I drag everything out of there. It’s a pile of worthless garbage. Old books. Old clothes. Magazines. Hand me down book cases. Some cardboard boxes full of I don’t even know what. I don’t even bother to look inside them. Instead, I kick everything down the stairs in the building.

My neighbor almost gets avalanched. She is coming up the stairs when one of my boxes comes flying down the stairwell.

“OH MY GOD!”

I follow down the stairs towards the scene of the crime.

“What happened?”

“What happened? This box almost decapitated me!”

“You gotta be kidding me!” I say, picking up the box, “Let me get it the hell out of here before your lawyer shows up.”

It’s even more dangerous when the book cases come crashing down the stairs. They practically go smashing out the window and into the garden below (Just kidding. Imagine that, a garden in this part of town!)

The truth is, if I had it my way, I would just shove both bookcases off the god damn fire escape. Right? They’re fucking trash. I’ll say it again, if I didn’t have hardwood floors, I would burn that shit right there in the living room.

Out there on the street, in every one elses’ mountain of trash, my contributions look great. They fit right in. I stand there momentarily admiring my addition to the infinite junkyard where our planned obsolescence goes to never rot but always be lonesome.

Then, as these things work out, I notice just up the block, there is a desk sitting in front of the next building down. College dorm rooms are in that building, so you can usually count on that kind of thing. My problem isn’t that I don’t know how to count, it’s that I didn’t know I should have been counting.

So there you are my beauty.

The desk is made of dark wood and it’s heavy. Not the kind of dark wood that equals expensive. The kind of dark wood that equals ugly. Also, the kind of heavy that does not equal expensive or well built, just heavy.

Heavy and ugly.

We were made for each other.

So I do what anybody would do. I start to drag it down the sidewalk back towards where I live. It has fallen over on it’s side and the sidewalk is really ripping up the wood. If it wasn’t so awkward. I would flip it up. I don’t bother to flip it up. Why? Because I could care less how ripped up my desk is by concrete. If it looks like it was attacked by a tiger, that is fine. An ugly heavy desk that has survived a tiger attack can write any number of great American novels.

Halfway up the sidewalk towards my building, there is a tiny Asian woman watching me drag the desk.

“You OK?”

“I’m fine.” I say.

She doesn’t offer me any help. I don’t blame her. First of all, I haven’t showered after work and I look like I just escaped from a coal mine disaster. Second, the desk looks like it weighs about three hundred pounds more than she does. She just smiles and steps to the side and I manage to horribly flip it up on my front steps. It crashes down and almost breaks the steps completely apart.

I wedge open the doors to the building and manage to push it up the short steps into the foyer of the building.

See, I have some experience with this kind of thing.

I am well aware that if I was to ask anyone for help, they would not help me. They would fake some kind of illness or some errand that they had to go and run. From experience, I know that the best way to get somebody to help me get the murderous desk up the stairs is to make the stairs a complete impasse.

I slide it across the tile and with all my strength I stand it up briefly at the steep incline of the stairs and then I kick it over so it crashes down on the stone steps like somebody knocking on the gates to hell with a sledgehammer.

Out of breath, I lean against the wall and wait.

It takes about five minutes for the first person to show up. It’s the lady I almost decapitated with my flying box.

“What’s that?”

“A desk.” I say.

“That doesn’t look like a desk.”

“It’s a desk.” I say, “And it weighs more than a baby elephant.”

She looks impatient. She has a bag of groceries. “I’ve got ice cream in this bag.”

“Do you have any spoons?”

“No. I don’t have any spoons.”

I motion to apartment 2C, “They probably have spoons. This is gonna be awhile.

Within a minute a couple arrive, they too are impatient, “What’s the hold up?”

“This desk is in the way.” I say.

“I don’t got time for this, American Idol is coming on in five minutes.

I point to the other lady, “How do you think she feels, her butternut is melting.”

“Excuse me.” She says.

“Your butternut?”

I clarify for everyone, “Ice cream. She’s got melting ice cream.” They all nod understanding the seriousness of the situation.

“It’s not butternut. It’s vanilla bean, thank you.”

Then the door opens and a teenage kid walks in, he’s trying to get up to the top floor of the building. He too, is in a big hurry. Everyone in the city is in a big hurry except for me. There must be something wrong with me.

“If you guys are pressed for time, you can move that desk up to the third floor.”

“Why can’t you do it?” The young chick wants to know.

“I’m on break.”

“Break? Really?”

I check my watch. “I get an hour. It’s a union job.”

The young guys don’t even get involved in testy argument, like machines, they latch onto the big ugly heavy desk and heft it with curses and death threats and injuries to nearly all of their joints until it is somehow after much struggle resting like a train wreck in front of my door.

It was quite an ordeal, taking them about twenty minutes, most of that time trying to get the thing unstuck when it had ceased being a desk and had become with 99.9% certainty, a plug that would forever make the stairs to the building a sealed passageway.

By the time they got the desk unstuck that had resorted to fully drop kicking it until a banister and a section of plastered wall were a thing of the distant past never to be seen or heard from again.

The kids were soaked with sweat and one of them had almost broken his ankle. I told him that it was stupid to kick the desk like that. It was akin to kicking a Sherman tank.

Then, I open my door and drag the smoking rubble of the desk into the spare room.

I set it up, putting the computer on it. Pulling one of the uncomfortable kitchen chairs before it like an offering. A desk like that would eat a comfortable chair for a midnight snack while I slept dreaming my eternal dreams of molten light and easy paychecks.

Looking at it, I couldn’t help but think that If it was a living creature it would be dead. All it had been through.

No matter. It wasn’t a living thing. It could be depended on. I sat down at the horrible thing and began to write and after all that hard work.

This is the worthless drivel that came out. After all of that. This.

I looked at it with disgust.

If it wasn’t so big I would push it off the fire escape down to the sidewalk below where it would not shatter, but rather make a crater that would still remain surely after the trash was hauled away.

People would say, afterwards, look at this, a meteorite must have hit

But, the window is too small and there is no way of really getting this thing back down the stairs, so we will go on. Like this. Until something else stops us.

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