Pieces Cut From the End (Part 3)

I’m beginning to wind down; no doubt about it. Nothing I can do. But it’s only the beginning and I don’t want to be caught with my bones falling apart while still having a job. I want to work less and do nothing more. I want to leave early on Fridays. Just to start something. Actually, I should just retire and get it done. Maybe this summer. I’ve been going at it a long time. Fifteen years at this one, shipping things around the planet for an enigmatic billionaire who went and died on us. Before that, eight years and five burned-through cars as a local courier. Before that, nine years in a pulp mill, from toilet paper inspector to acid tester. Six years in the Navy. At least three spraying lacquer on shiny metal church goods for my father’s shop. And other things in between. A summer as a pest control technician. An art consultant for a scam gallery. Popcorn maker for a drive-in movie theater. Film student. Dishwasher. Paperboy. I think I should feel like I deserve a break. But I’m always unsure. Couldn’t I have done more? Shouldn’t I have paid closer attention? I don’t like thinking about all the time I’ve wasted, all the time that, if better filled, would have given me a far different life. As my father would say, “Serves you right.”

= = =

She tended to fall in love with weak-chinned men. She liked them even better if they smoked, although she hated their breath and the smell of their clothing. But there was something about watching a weak-chinned man put a cigarette in his mouth that made her heart beat faster.

= = =

He had a lazy eye, but was otherwise alright. The lazy eye bothered him. He didn’t like it when people looked at him. He could see it on their faces. Their first thought. He didn’t understand why his lazy eye should have such an important role in his appearance since it was such a small percentage of his overall body. It didn’t seem fair. If he had a mangled toe, or a mild deformity in his underarm, it wouldn’t seem like so much and would probably go unnoticed most of the time, even if it was twice as large as his lazy eye. And he wouldn’t have to worry that people were instantly thinking “he has a lazy eye” every time they spoke to him.

= = =

He sat at the bar, looking out the window and nursing a beer. He liked the server and began to fantasize about her. He worked it for a while–how she was in bed, what their life would be like together, kids, vacations–and after an hour or so his wife showed up. She was happy to see him, giving him an animated account of the good day she’d had while she waited for her wine.

= = =

“At least she didn’t call you ugly.”

“I’d much rather be called ugly than bland. If I’m ugly, I can still be exciting. But if I’m bland, even being good looking can’t save me.”

= = =

Headlines:

Protesters Filled With Pent-Up Joy Storm Capitol; Break Through Barriers; Laugh

Black Man Detained After Testing Positive for Innocence

= = =

If I had an old grandpa, I’d want him to say something like this to me: “Of course things have changed. Everything’s changed. Stuff. People. Weather. It’ll happen to you, too. Just wait. That’s all you have to do. Ain’t no generation yet that’s come along and said, ‘There, we fixed it. Everything’s fine now.’ Nope. You’re gonna get there someday and look around and go, ‘Man, how did everything change so much?’

= = =

A red airplane under a blue sky flew over a yellow tree.

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