Something hard pressed to be stopped.
A train rolls by the window and the birds at home on the water take off while he’s cooking eggs, cleaning up, speaking softly to himself in the quiet of the dining room, finally eating his eggs with a spoon.
There’s one leaf in the yard; not his yard. It’s the start of October. It’s more comfortable this way. One at a time.
He’d, from now on, spend his time only going to the slow places—a decision he was finally able to make—newly open and plain, or the failing places on the way out. He could relate to such a slow dimming.
Once he won a trip to Vegas, Atlantic City, and Reno.
In that order.
His speediness descending.
This was right before he took work in Toledo.
In Toledo, he had a good job. The best good job he ever had. Two digits per one hour. Checking up on abandoned homes that a property management company owned and had to keep empty or clean out or make sure were still trashed and unlivable to combat squatting. Three houses, or so, every trip up was what the company wanted.
A whole town of this.
He didn’t know.
Houses bigger than his. And nicer, if he had to be honest, on the outside.
Until it was time for him to take one of these incremental trips, he sat in an office loading up pictures of the properties onto a computer. Proof of the vacancy. When the pictures were on the computer, the company knew. He smoked cigarettes and ate lunch, clocked out.
One property in Toledo had a shed with a dead dog in it. On the side of it facing the house was painted: Stacey’s kids suck dick.
Something had happened. He had a look and left.
Eventually the company collapsed and that was it for him, half glad. Had made some money; that was that til it was gone. If he could go back though. Except, back from when? to where? he wanted to clarify a point he’d made, in the language of it. He could embellish and have that. Remind himself he had to at least work a little for it.
Then what? if he were able to iron out the information, stuffed clarification.
A practice course in impulse, is that feeling it out?
He would have to have to lay down the law. Stop it from going on and on. Asked a neighbor once if they were level, then he leveled out the wrinkles like it was a blanket and he was just making the bed.
And what that says about him. Broken dishes in the sideboard downstairs.
Lucky he got himself up long enough to go anywhere. It’s being like this that certainly does exacerbate things. How he can’t leave things be and what that says about him in a situation.
Like something convenient, collapsible, and storable.
And after, whatever was left in the pan was his life. It had an electrical taste to it when he tried to have a sip.
On one visit, when he was finally alone, you shoulda seen what he did.
He used to get phone calls about dream vacations.
Have a ring at it.
Win a trip with—if you do it right—only some stipulations.
He could name all the kinds of fish they saw when they got back in: the slippery dick, the french angel, cuttlefish and stoplight parrotfish, spotted cowfish, lionfish; grouper, snapper, flounder.