In honor of a friend of mine getting hired on as the Managing Editor of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, I've decided to post my failed attempt at writing a novel in a month. I'll never get back to it anyway, and why the hell not let you see how truely awful I am. It's 22 pages long. I got to 15k, then just sort of stopped. This year though, I'm going to write 50k if it kills me.
So here it is, in all it's weirdo glory, a story that got miles away from me: Domino.
Rubicks Bob is my friend He is my friend because we share very similar interests. He is my friend because we spend a lot of time together at the store. I’m at the store a lot buying “toys.” He is also at the store a lot buying “toys.” We met because we were there at the same day at the same time. He was there because he needed a few new Rubicks cubes. I was there because I needed another case of dominos. He got there later than he thought because of traffic. I got there earlier than I thought because I was coming from the other direction. I was coming from the other direction because I moved from the North East to the South West a few months ago. I’ll be moving again soon.
I’m going to try to stop talking that way. It’s hard for me. It’s hard for me because everything happens because of something else and if I start thinking about anything it’s hard for me to not thing of all the things that came before it because what’s the point of even knowing the last thing if you don’t know the first thing and all the connected things in the middle?
I don’t talk to people much. I try not to. If I start talking I have a hard time stopping because of all the things I already said. I like bob because he doesn’t talk much either. Bob would be more comfortable if we all talked in numbers and patterns. I understand because I would be more comfortable if we all talked sequentially and connectively. Some things make sense differently.
I like dominos. Bob likes cubes. He shops at the same store that I shop at. Hank’s Toy Emporium. Bob calls it 4105, sometimes 1405, sometimes 5041, sometimes 0541, because it’s located at 4105 in the Burlington Mall. Sometimes he calls it all the possible permutations of that number, there are a lot. I’m not sure how many. Ask Bob. He get’s stuck sometimes like that, he’ll rattle off numbers for hours. I let him go and try to figure out why he’s going in the direction that he’s going. Bob doesn’t really understand directions. He’s just everywhere at once. I think lineally. It makes more sense. For me.
Today I’m starting in the basement. I always start in the basement. Start from the ground up. The ground up. I’m in the basement, I’ve only gone through a few boxes of dominos so far. This whole house will be alive again. This whole house will have motion and movement. I start in the basement, start in the basement, start in the basement, move forward move forward move forward. I’ve only gone through 3,200 dominos. 2,300, 0203, Bob would say.
I will now describe my house starting from the lower left hand corner, moving clockwise through the floor, then up one floor, clockwise through that floor, then up to the third floor, and then clockwise through that floor.
Coming in from the back door there is a hallway which leads directly to the stairwell, behind the stairwell is a storage space, behind the storage space is a walk in closet, behind that is the main room of the basement, it’s very large and occupies the majority of the floor, on the far end is a small bathroom which contains only a sink and a toilet, there is a small window and a ledge high on the back wall, it looks out to the ground level, to the left of the bathroom is the far wall, turning you find yourself looking at the main room of the basement once again, ten paces in front of you is a wall with a door in it, this door leads to the garage which is nearly empty, there is a bike and some paint cans left over from the previous owner, there is a garage door, then you’re outside. There is nothing else to tell about the basement. There is no furniture.
Come back in the back door, you’re now facing the stairs that lead to the second floor. There are six stairs, then there is a landing, then the stairs make a 90 degree turn left, then there are six more stairs, you are now in the kitchen. Directly to your left is a refrigerator facing the same way you are, then there is a series of cabinets and a counter top that wrap around until you are facing approximately 9oclock. There is a sink here, above the sink is a window, next to that the counter top starts again, there is a washing machine below the counter top directly next to the sink, above the washing machine there is another cabinet. It is the last cabinet in the room. There is then a window, then a far wall that’s covered with ugly yellow tile. In the middle of the room is a small table and above it a small chandelier. Chandelier is a grand term for it, it’s a light that hangs from the ceiling. Now, looking at 12oclock, walk forward three paces, then turn right. You are now walking through a door that goes into the dining room, the dining room is large and vacant. No furniture. There is a wide opening that leads into the living room, the living room has a grey recliner in the middle of it and no other furniture. There is a large mirror on the right hand wall. Directly in front of you is a bay window. If I had a cat he would sit there in the sun. I don’t have a cat so there is nothing in the bay window, the sun only touches the recliner in the middle of the room. There is no artificial light in this room. No lamps. No chandeliers. No lights.
Standing at the recliner and looking out the window, turn to 9oclock again, you are now facing the stairway. The stairway has 13 stairs, just like the set that leads to the basement. Directly in front of you is the back bedroom, the door is shut and locked, I don’t use this room. The door is shut and locked. Inside there is nothing but two windows on the outside wall. These windows have newspaper taped over them. Turn left there is another bedroom. There is nothing in there but the door is open and unlocked. To the left of this room there is a bathroom. The bathroom has one toilet, one shower/tub combination, one sink with vanity mirror, above the center of the floor is a skylight that is never opened. There is a bath mat on the floor so I don’t slip when I get out of the shower. The tile is black. The caulk is white. The tile is black the caulk is white. There are 48 tiles. An old newspaper is draped over the edge of the tub so that I can read when I use the bathroom.
To the left of the bathroom there is a bedroom. It’s my bedroom. Going clockwise around this room, to your immediate left is a closet there isn’t very much in here, then there is a dresser on the far wall, this is also nearly empty, then there are two windows and then a night stand, with a glass of water and an alarm clock on it, then my bed, it needs to be made and it’s black with white stitching.
That’s my house. I don’t like it very much, but it’ll make do for now. I’ll probably leave soon anyway. Soon. I’m not sure when, I have to wait to see what happens next.
I move a lot. I have to keep moving. It’s important. If you stay in one place for too long you stagnate and then you die. And then you die in the place where you were already dead but didn’t know it because you didn’t ever move. A person has to keep moving in order to keep living. Motion is life, motion is time. Motion is motion. Keep moving. When something dies it means that all cellular motion has ceased. It’s ceased because all of the tiny bits of electricity that keep things moving has stopped being generated because the thing that generates all the electricity has stopped moving and can no longer generate electricity, so cells stop functioning and the body dies. I think that’s how it works. That’s how someone described it to me once.
Rigger mortis. I know about that. The longer you’re dead the less malleable you are, it’s harder to move a person after they’ve been dead a long while. If a person dies, at say, 9oclock, not the direction now, the time. The time is 9oclock and someone dies a horrible death. There is no other kind. At ten after nine, the person is still able to move, not on his own anymore, but I could move a body that’s only been dead ten minutes or so. If you let that body sit on the floor for a few hours, it stiffens up, becomes even more dead than it was and becomes frozen. It’s impossible to bend any of the joints. It’s better if I never find that out again. Motion is life, death is stiffness, rigidity.
Bob doesn’t move much. He’s not dead, but he sits still for longer than I can tolerate sometimes. The first time I met him I almost kicked him out of my house. He sat in my recliner for hours and didn’t move a muscle, didn’t make a sound. It was horrifying until I looked at his eyes. I’m able to be friends with bob because of his eyes. His eyes are constantly in motion. I didn’t realize till then that Bob spends most of his time in his mind, and he’s constantly moving in there. I imagine it’s a nonstop parade of numbers and patterns and ways to figure out those numbers, make patterns of those numbers and to make numbers out of those patterns. I view bobs world as a series of melting, changing numbers. That’s probably how he sees things.
I call Bob, “Rubi Bob” because Bob can complete a randomized Rubi Cube in under 20 seconds. Every time. Without failure. He is a whiz. A Rubick’s Cube is a game. It has 9 color squares on each side of the cube. A cube has six sides. The cube has 54 individual squares on the face. Each individual square is a different color. There are six different colors. Each individual square rests on two different axis at any given time. Each row can rotate and each column can rotate. Thereby allowing each cube to move in nearly any direction. The object of the game is to get all the sides colored with the same color square. Nine yellows on one side, nine reds on another and so on. It is ridiculous that I am describing a Rubik’s Cube. Everyone knows what a Rubiks Cube is.
They were invented in the early eighties and created a craze over the country, then the world. They are the highest selling toy of all time, there are approximately 44,000,000,000,000,000,000 different configurations. Bob loves them. I know a lot about rubi cubes because bob knows a lot about rubi cubes. He can solve any rubi cube in any configuration in under twenty seconds any time you ask him to. He could do them in his sleep. He might actually do them in his sleep, I’ve never seen him sleep.
I love watching him solve Rubi Cubes, I could watch it all day. Which is lucky because he does little else. Even when he goes into his number trances, if you throw a cube at him, he’ll work through it as he’s running through the numbers. It’s remarkable. It’s too furious a flurry of movement to keep track of, I try though. I try to watch the square dials spin and rotate in his hand like a gyroscope and try to catch glimpses of how he starts and when he finishes. It’s impossible. He moves. He moves too fast.
I had him teach me to do it once. Just once. He got upset and couldn’t take my not being able to do it, so he would snatch it out of my hand and finish the puzzle in seconds. It went this way:
“Bob, show me how to do a Rubi Cube.”
“Ok.” he said and then he got out of his recliner and came to where I was, which was just inside the dining room, writing on my pad and planning maneuvers. He brought his backpack of Cubes with him. He removed three, one for me, one for him, and one for him to complete when he got aggravated by my shortcomings.
“Hold it like this,” he said. Then he held up his hands so that I could see how a professional holds a Rubi Cube. He grabbed it just like you would think to. One hand on either side, just the fingers touching the outermost dials.
“Ok,” I said. And then I held it the way he was showing me. Then he reached over and moved my hands to the exact correct place for “maximum spin time.” He was holding his, I was holding mine. Between the two of us was the third cube, which lay on the floor unsolved. He kept sneaking glances at it every chance he got. He glanced at it more and more as we sat in my empty dining room, my empty dining room that would be a perfect place for a flower pattern, it was distracting him. It was keeping him from explaining the process to me.
“Ok. Now figure out where everything should go.” He glanced down at the unsolved cube, and while I asked “What do you mean?” he began and completed the cube he was holding in his hands and then quickly mixed it up again. All the while staring at the cube on the floor between us. Flower pattern. He looked surprised at my question. He tried to answer as best he could. “Where are you going to put the reds? The yellows? The greens? The whites? The bl–“
”Oh.” I cut him off. “I guess it doesn’t really matt-“
”Doesn’t matter??” He cut me off. His eyes darted from the cube on the floor to the cube in my hand. Faster and faster. Flowers and stairs. “It matters! It matters! It matters! It matters!” He looked red, he wasn’t breathing very well. He was breathing in short. Quick. Bursts. He made a wheezing sound for a second and I thought he was going to pass out. Then he reached for the cube on the floor, solved it, he was still flushed, barely breathing now. He finished it, grabbed mine and worked through it faster and faster. Solved it and put all three down in a row.
“Ahh” he breathed as he was able to exhale again. He was now just staring at the three completed puzzles. White side up. “It matters” he said. Then he took his cubes and walked back to his chair and sat down. He rested his head in his hands.
He sat there for a long time. It was 11 o’clock in the afternoon when he sat down. He didn’t get up until well after dark. Motionless for hours, just resting his head in his hands. Numbers flying through his mind trying to calm him down from our training session. I sat in the middle of the dining room watching him for fifteen minutes or so, feeling bad. I shouldn’t have asked him to do anything. He’s a touchy person. The slightest thing can set him off like that. I imagine whatever he does in that head of his is calming for him, but he’d probably be happier if he didn’t have to do it. Or at the very least, he’d be happier if he were concentrating on his cubes instead of running through numbers to balance himself out again. Poor guy. I wish I left him sit and enjoy his cubes and the sunshine. I felt bad about it for a little while, then I had to get back to my planning. There’s only so much worrying a person can do before it starts to interfere with his life.
I was busy making notes. This was a new house after all and I needed the measurements for each room. Each step. I had to take the tape measure to every stretch of wall, every plank. I had to measure each angle. I had to check for dips in the floor. When I found one I had to mark it with spray paint. I had to spray the floor so that I’d remember where the dip was so that I could go back and figure out a way to level it off. Most times you can accomplish this by buying a piece of lumber from the lumber yard on 8th street. Then you take that lumber and bring it into the lower floor. Then you cut the lumber so that it will fit perfectly between the floor and the ceiling. Then you take the lumber and wedge it under the place that dips in the floor below you. That usually balances the floor enough to run a proper stream. Streams flow. On and on and on.
It’s difficult to properly mark the underside of the floor you’ve discovered a dip in. It’s possible to drill a hole through the floor. Then you can just wedge the lumber under the hole which has clearly marked the center of the dip. But if the lumber is just a bit too long, the lumber will strain the floor, the hole has weakened the floor, and the floor will crack around the hole. The cracks create more problems. I don’t want to think about all those problems right now. Those problems haven’t happened yet. Those problems will probably happen by next Thursday. After I get all the lumber and cut the lumber and prop the floors. Things crack sometimes, regardless of planning.
The measurements have to be precise. I’ve gotten better at measuring, I’m proud of it. Most of the time I can just judge by looking at a space if it matches the blueprints of the house or not. It’s important to have the blueprints. If a person doesn’t have the blueprints for his or her own house, that person is being irresponsible and doesn’t deserve to live in that house. They should lose that house and it should be given to someone like me who can read and understand and appreciate blueprints.
Then once a person gets the blueprints for the house, it isn’t enough to just have the blueprints, you have to check. You have to check the blueprints, because you didn’t make those blueprints, how do you know they’re right? You don’t. That’s all there is to it. If the blue prints are off, how could you possibly know if the dining room is level enough or not. Or if the room is as big as it says it is? You have no way of knowing. Then you walk through the room at night, or when the lights are off, if you have lights, and then you stub your toe in the doorway and you wonder why. Know your house. Know everything about it. Know the insides and outs, know the quickest way to get everywhere. You should. It’s your house, you paid good money for it, and if anything happens in that house, you’re responsible for it. You’re responsible for the contents of that house and no matter how much planning you did, no matter how much thought you put into it, nothing can forgive not knowing your house all the way through to the core. From the south west base of the house to the northwest corner. From the garage, all the way up to the back bedroom. Know that house. Know the dangers that are there.
This floor is not fucking level. Worse yet. It has lumps. Humps. Peaks and valleys. Hills and dales. It’s a roller coaster. Everything has to be level. Nowhere in the blueprints does it say that the floor should be roller coaster. The average person wouldn’t even know that the floor is almost an inch off level in the corner. Why would they not know that? They probably haven’t measured. They probably haven’t gone to get the blueprints and looked at them. I’d be amazed if anyone even knows where to get blueprints.
It’s simple. I went to get blueprints the day after I bought this house. It’s very simple. Leave the house. Figure out where you’re standing in relation to the nearest bus stop. Get on the bus that will take you to the trains. The beautiful trains. Admire the trains, appreciate them. Every fifteen minutes they fly by at terrific speeds. The ones you need stop, the ones you don’t, don’t. They’re large and rectangular and when they move they say “clack clack. clack clack” Like dominos. Running by in a blur of motion. Clack clack clack clack.
Get on the train that runs into the city. When the train stops at the fifth stop, get off the train. Watch the train leave. Understand that the train is gone, but it will be back when you need it. Take a moment. Breathe. It will be back. It will be back. Back back. Back back. Clack clack.
Walk down to Jefferson Street. Turn right. Walk straight four blocks. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison. The streets are named for presidents. They’re named in order. One two three four. Right in a row. At Madison, turn left. Walk up 9 blocks. Walk from 9th to 18th street. Admire the order falling behind you, first to fourth then 9th to 18th. Walk to the third building in. Look at it. It’s the Department of Records. Walk in that building. Go to the third floor. Take the stairs. Always take the stairs. Listen to your feet.
In room 309 there is a woman named Anne. Speak to her. There will be forms to fill out. Fill out the forms. Give them back to Anne. She’ll give you a roll of blueprints. Leave the building and get home following the directions in reverse.
These are important documents to have. Everything important is in these blue lines. Study them. Remember them. Check them over and over. Spread them out on the floor and hover over each blue line until you know it like you know yourself. Like the palm of your hand, like you know the palm of your hand connects to your forearm and up through the rest of your body. Each turn is important. All the lines are connected. Blue streams of squares. Sectioned, square and sequential. Each place is going someplace else. A constant blue blur of motion. Nothing bad can happen if you know where everything is at all times.
I have my blue prints, I’ve had them since before I bought the house. I had them since I lived in my last house. I have all the blueprints for all my houses. Each one more important than the next. Each floor of each house was off kilter at some point. I fixed each one with increasing speed and proficiency. Speed is important, always.
I need to fix this house. I need to make it right. The floors will be perfect. The floors will be level. The dominos will run through this house like blood, this house will live again. My house will be my home with the soothing clack clack of motion and black.
When I woke up this morning, Bob was already in his chair working through cubes. He was finishing a cube and placing it on the floor next to him. Then he’d get another cube, solve it, and place it next to the first. I’m not sure what he was doing, but the second and fourth cube were at least a quarter of an inch out of line. I didn’t tell him. I don’t think he would’ve heard anyway. I left him go. Besides. I had a lot to do. Bob will be fine in his chair. He’s got bags of those cubes.
I need lumber. I could just call the lumber yard and have it delivered, but they won’t pick the right pieces. I need ten eight foot pieces and fourteen ten foot pieces. I can’t wait. The lumber yard is down by the river. It’s within walking distance. It’s a few miles away. Lumber. I’m goingggg to geeeettt lumbeeerrr. I’m singingggg aboutttttt lummbeer. It’s lumber day. Things are under. Things are under way!
The only problem with going to the lumber yard is dealing with all the guys who work at the lumber yard. It’s a commotion down there, which I enjoy, but all the guys can really get in the way of things. I don’t really know how anyone works around so many people without killing someone. When I get there I have to speak with the manager right away, so that I can get enough space so that nobody else speaks to me. I hope he understands. He needs to understand and he needs to understand in a very short amount of time, because picking this lumber could very easily take all day. A lot goes into the picking of these timbers and I need him to understand that I cant be disturbed by any of his workers or any of their fantastic machines. I’ll pull the lumber myself, put it in a pile and then one of his machines can come and pick it up, put it on a truck and then they can take it to my house, then drop it on the ground, then I’ll pull the wood into my house and get to work. It’s important that I’m not bothered.
It’s a long walk from my house to the lumber yard. It’s a nice day though. I’ve made this walk in the dead of winter. That’s not nearly as enjoyable. Less singing. Significantly less singing.
In order to get nearly anywhere I have to walk past the Aramingo Deli. I just refer to it as the deli. It’s the best deli in town and as luck would have it: it’s just around the corner. Lucky for me. Lucky for them. It’s amazing and I love it.
I love this deli because they have great sandwiches. I found out that this deli has great sandwiches because my exwife went to highschool with the owner. She and he went to highschool around the corner. They grew up together. Whenever I get a sandwich, Tony Aramingo, the owner of the deli will often tell me a story about my exwife and something they did together in the past. Maybe tell me a story about something they did together with their old group of friends. Maybe tell me how they used to date and isn’t that something. And no it’s not, I’d just like a deli sandwich please. And a half a pound of cheese. For Bob. Rubi Bob likes cheese sandwiches and I like to make Rubi Bob cheese sandwiches. So I get cheese and bread for the sandwiches. Please give me my order so I can leave, so I can leave and go around the corner and feed me and feed bob and get back to work. Please give me the sandwiches.
The windows are bright today. He must be busy. He’s a fat, loud man and I hope he doesn’t see me walk by. I’ve got too much going on today to deal with that fat man, despite his delicious deli sandwiches. He’s busy. Thank god he’s busy. Don’t let him ruin Lumber day. It’s not often I get to go outside. It’s not often I get to go to the lumber yard and pick out perfect specimens of lumber which were borne from perfect specimens of trees, which were cut down months ago in some remote and wonderful part of the world just for me. They were planted at a tree farm, or grew naturally. If they grew naturally, it makes the experience all the more remarkable. Thousands of years of history go falling back, falling back into quiet nothingness, watching great trees bare seeds, seeds take root, saplings are formed, those saplings weather all the tortures of the elements. Winds and rain beat at a thin little tree, shoving it as far as it will bend, it has to hold. It has to hold. Don’t snap little sapling, my floors are bent and need you to fix them, ancient sapling. Ancient sapling who grows to a large tree, and bears seed and has his own sapling, and so goes the cycle again. Incessant motion speeds through time making it ok for me to wake up today, walk by Rubicks Bob, past the Aramingo Deli, and into my shoes right this instant. Streams of incidents, smashing and pushing the next along, just so this day exists for me. All right there stretching out in front of me. Amazing. Amazing and beautiful.
That thought carries me past the deli, and for just a moment I see fat Tony Aramingo working the meat slicing machine. For just a moment, he sees me too and smirks one of his fat little smirks. I shouldn’t tease him about his weight, if I worked in his shop, I’d be just as fat. His sandwiches are so good. If I could spend more time in there I would. I’d be four hundred pounds. I know I’d be four hundred pounds. If I worked there, everything would align itself and I would put on a dangerous amount of weight, and I’d die of a heart attack in the bathroom. Bob would be devastated. Actually, he’d probably be more devastated about not being able to use the bathroom.
Nobody would ever even find out if I died in my bathroom because I put on a lot of weight from working at The Deli. Then went home from the deli and went to the bathroom. Then I’d have to grab my chest. Then I’d scream, or gasp. Then I’d fall over. I might even hit my head on that old newspaper on the toilet that I never read. Then I’d die. Then Bob would have to use the bathroom after a while. He’d find my dead body. He’d scream a bit. Then he’d probably use the bathroom and then his brain would run through a remarkable amount of numbers and computations. He does that when he’s upset. Then whenever that finished he’d probably leave and go to the Toy Store and buy a few cubes. Then he’d go to his apartment. Leaving my body to it’s own devices. Bob doesn’t talk to anyone, especially in a situation like that where he’d be frantic. Nobody would find me for weeks. Nobody would look for me. Nobody would care much. Maybe Tony Aramingo. It would cut into his profits and his fun.
But that’s exactly how that would go. It’s all lined up. If I were to get a job at Tony Aramingo’s I would die within two years of my first day on the job.
The lumber yard is owned and operated by a man named Jack. I’ve dealt with him enough times that he should understand what I need by now. He’s a busy guy but he should remember me. I don’t come there often, and I certainly don’t look like most of his customers. I don’t look like I’m in construction or anything like that. Besides. I’m very awkward and guys like that tend to hate me. I don’t talk loud enough. He works by machinery and saws all day. It’s a tough conversation just due to the dynamic of it, but on top of that I’m uncomfortable talking to people. I get stuck.
The lumber yard is a massive place. It’s just on the river and it’s enclosed in chain link fence and barbed wire. There’s a security guard at the gate and I’m not sure why. I don’t know why the need to guard lumber so tightly, but then I don’t know anything about the lumber business. There’s probably a whole string of reasons why. It seems to be working for them whatever the reason, business seems to be going well.
There’s a large entry gate into the yard. It’s so that trucks and such can go through. The road is unpaved, it’s a gravel lot and it’s muddy. I didn’t wear proper shoes. I don’t have proper shoes. I only have one pair of shoes. They’re black shoes. They have white laces. I like black and I like white. I don’t like mud. I’m going to need new laces after today. I hadn’t thought of that before I came down. It’s not a big deal. I’ll think of the lumber. Think of the lumber. Progress. Progress.
The yard is a flurry of motion. There are men everywhere. The majority of them are wearing flannel shirts, brown boots and leather gloves. Men are walking places with piles of lumber on their shoulders. Men are driving fork lifts. Men are yelling at other men to pick up lumber, or drive a fork lift closer to them. It’s a flurry of motion. If it were all for a similar purpose it would be the greatest place in the world. But the motion is uninhibited and uncontrolled. Men are walking to wherever they want at any random point. Any sound, any situation can set them off in a different direction. Lots of yelling. If all this were streamlined I don’t think I’d ever leave. If all of this were streamlined I would never leave. That’s all there is to it.
I need to talk to the security guard. I have to. If I don’t talk to him, I wont get to see Jack the owner operator who inherited the business from his father. His father who inherited the business from his father. Presumably the business will run downward to Jacks son, Jack’s sapling, Bruce. Who is a nice guy and who works in the office. But first, before all that, I need to figure out how I’m going to talk to the security guard who is a large, imposing man. He’s going to talk loudly, and curtly and he’s not going to like me and it’s going to be frightening. Just breathe just breathe. Do it.
“Excuse me.” I must have said it too low because he didn’t hear me at all. He didn’t even look at me. For a moment I think, that’s it. That’s the end of the day. Everything led downhill to this moment and it didn’t work, so get out of here and go home. Start tomorrow. The first time I came down here it took me six tries to just to get past that gate and into the lumber yard. I just don’t like people. I need to adjust. Subtle tweaks in spacing can make or break any set up. Tip anything the wrong way and you can ruin everything. You knock everything down and you have to go back and start fresh. I’m already almost done with this security guard and I’ve only said two words.
“Excuse me, sir” And then it worked. And then he turned and we’re off and running. Get it over with quick, just be careful you don’t get swept over. It’s important you figure this out. Get it done get it done. The house needs to be fixed. Plans are in motion. Motion this is part of that motion, be careful, don’t go to quick, don’t go to slow, just move steadily. Clack right through.
“Can I help you.” He said. He seems nice, but he’s a bit off. He doesn’t like me already. He’s spooked. He’s going to fall the wrong way and ruin everything. Say something say something quick.
“Do you have an appointment, sir?”
“He’s a busy man, sir. He might not be able to see you.”
“What’s this about?”
“You ok?” this is getting difficult, why cant he just tell me where jack is and then I can get moving. I should be almost on my way to picking out lumber and I don’t want to speak to this man anymore.
“Yes. I need lumber, please. Timbers.”
“Let me see if he’s here.” He turns to use the phone and I can tell he’s sort of afraid of me. Not afraid. That’s not the right word. He doesn’t like me very much. He thinks I’m weird. Everyone thinks I’m weird. I don’t mean to be weird. I just don’t like people very much. That’s all. I like watching the order of things and I don’t get along well with people. I used to get along well with people, but not anymore. Those day’s are done. I don’t like people very much, they’re scary and I just want my wood so I can finish my house so I can start the build and I need to start today or everything is ruined. So many plans. So many plans. Please, please just let me in. It’s so much. It’s so much. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
“Ok. Jack said he knows who you are. You can head in.”
“Oh thank god!” I said it as I was thinking of breathing and it came out in a huff and he looked at me strangely and I rushed right in. I tried to hurry without splashing too much mud on my shoes. It made for a strange walk. Some of the men noticed. I noticed them noticing and tried to walk more normally. Trying to walk normally is more difficult then you would think. I’m thinking that people are looking at me because of the way I’m walking, so I have to try to right my walk and walk more how I walk, but how does anyone walk? How do I walk normally? I never thought of it. I just walk. Now I’m being awkward. More people are looking at me. My shoelaces are brown. I need more time. I need more time.
Oh. No. There’s jack and he’s waiting outside for me.
“Hey.” He’s looking at me strangely. I just need lumber and I’m going to leave. Please let me get what I need. Jack. Please Jack. Jack Sapling. This wood was put here for me thousands of years ago and now it’s here or me. And now I’m here to pick it up and I need it and please don’t get in my way it’s important you don’t get in my way. I need the wood for the house so I can start. Please please please.
“Look” he said. “If you want lumber, you can get it here, but you can’t be here all day like last time. You took up entirely too much space last time and this is a business and I’ve got a lot to do. If you can get in there, pick out what you need for whatever it is you need it for, but it’s got to be quick and it’s got to be now.”
”If not,” he said “you have to get your lumber someplace else. I don’t have the patience for you today.” He remembered me from the last time I was here. He remembers me and he doesn’t like me because last time I took too long because the timber wasn’t right and I needed it to be perfect. I took a long time because it needs to be right, and he doesn’t understand and I made him mad. And I’ve ruined it now and I don’t know what to do.
“Do you understand?”
“No buts, pal. Just get to it and get it done and get out of here.”
Hurry. Hurry. Motion and quickness. You can do this. You’ve done this enough times in the past to get this done as quickly as you can. Focus. Focus on the task. There are so many things in the way. Business has boomed for Jack. He’s doing too well, there’s too much commotion. Get it done. Go.
The logs are organized on giant shelves. There are hundreds of the types that I need. I need to get lucky and find the perfect ones as quickly as possible. I don’t know how that’s possible. There are a lot of things to considers. Knots are signs of weakness, little holes in the wood. But they’re ok and I like them. I just don’t like a lot of them. A few is fine, any more than a few are no good. They’re garbage instantly. That’s easy. That’s an easy way to cut the number of possible selections down quickly. I should’ve brought Bob. He counts quickly. I don’t.
There are too many to deal with. I need a few knots, not too many. And they need to be square, perfectly square. Otherwise they’re useless to me. Especially the tops. If the tops aren’t perfectly flat, then they’re ineffective as leveling devices. The floor must be level otherwise the routes become muddled. I can’t force the routes, the routes have to go wherever they must go. I can’t dodge lumps and bumps in my flooring. It’s my fucking floor, its mine to fix. I need it level. I don’t have time for this. All of history has led to these pieces of wood being laid out before me. Everything every move in the planet has dictated that these wood be mine to choose from. And Jack is ruining everything. There are too many, too many.
The selecting is impossible. It’s frantic and hurried. Pull them. Just pull them. No. I need to look, figure it out. Figure it out. How can you get this done. Just pick, c’mon. You’re wasting time. Move.
I attacked the stack of lumber. I jumped up on top of one pile, and just took each piece with one hand and threw it behind me as I sorted. Straight behind me. Just sorting as fast as I possibly could, and not really thinking about what was behind me. I shut down most of my brain and just set to throwing these timbers down behind me. Just trying to get a quick glance at each piece before moving on to the next. I was making a bit of a mess, but I didn’t have time to worry about that. They probably pay someone to come out and clean the grounds when people start throwing logs around. I’ll bet it happens all the time.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Jack was running up, keep sorting. He’s going to throw you out, quick quick. Keep sorting. The timbers were making “Bong bong bong” noises as they clattered on the ground and bumped into other pieces of wood. It was a good sound, but not very soothing. It’s not really important if he throws you out, there’s another lumber yard a few blocks away. But we need to get sorted. Get started.
“I’m trying to be fast, I’m sorry.” The words left my mouth and went across the yard and bounced right off Jacks angry head like he didn’t even hear me.
“I said, what the fuck are you doing.” Make it work, tell him what’s going on.
“I’m trying to be fast, I’m sorry.” I said back to him. I’m praying he heard that, he looks like he’d want to hit me if I don’t answer the right way. And he could, they’d have no way of knowing he hit me. Even if He wound up beating the hell out of me, there’s enough people here to cover it up and he’ll get away fine. He could kill me. All his worker bees could bury me right below all these saplings and nobody would ever know. Bob, would just live in my apartment going about his day like nothing ever happened. Like he never met me in the first place. He’d probably be better off, but I don’t know who would fix him sandwiches. No time to worry about that.
“Fast? What the fuck are you throwing everything all over the place for? You’re going to kill somebody!” He’s mad. Tell him about the dominos. Let him know why you need them. At the very least tell him something.
“I need to find good pieces.” I said. That was enough.
“What’s wrong with these?”
“Too many knots or the sides aren’t level.”
“I can’t have too many knots. I can’t have too many knots because it spoils the wood. If the wood is spoiled the wood is weak, and if the wood is weak it wont– it wont be able to help me. I just need the wood. The wood was put here for me. The wood existed from forever ago and it grew up and found me and now it’s here for me and I need to take it now but I have to find it first please. I need to find it so I can use it for what it’s for. You didn’t stop me last time. I was slower last time but you didn’t stop me. You didn’t stop me because you weren’t as busy. You weren’t as busy because your business wasn’t as strong. Your business wasn’t as strong because you weren’t as busy --.”
“Shut up! Christ. C’mon. Get your shit. Let’s go.” He’s angry. I don’t know why he’s angry. I haven’t done anything wrong. ‘M going to pay. It’s not like I’m not going to pay.
“I have money” I said
“I’ve got money too. Fuck your money. Get your shit, let’s go.”
“Please, I’ll just take these. Please. I’ll make it work. Please. Please. Please.” I grabbed him. I didn’t mean to but I did, he was walking away and he was literally dragging me through the mud.
“C’mon man. Don’t do this.”
“Please, please.” I begged him. I was so close to getting started, even closer to being finished. “I’ve been coming here for years, please just let me go.”
“Ok, all right. Get offa me. Christ man. What the fuck is with you.” He was standing over me. I was sitting in the mud.
“I don’t know. I don’t know anymore. Can I buy –“
”Yeah, fine. C’mon man, get out of the mud. You all right?”
“I think so. “Ten eight and 14 ten. Please.” He helped me up. I was crying. I didn’t realize I was crying. It’s been a while since I’d cried. I had a better reason the last time. This was ridiculous. But it’s important. Jack should not have pushed me like that. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just needed everything to work out perfectly. Now I have to work with these misshapen timbers. I don’t know if it’s going to work anymore. All this planning. All this planning. All this planning.
“I’ll get your wood. You still at the same address?”
“No I moved. I moved because I had to move. I had to move because –“
”Stop. I remember this game. Just tell me where you’re at.”
I told him. He said there would be a delivery tomorrow. I hope it gets there early like he said. I hope.
I left the lumber yard after I finalized the delivery and paid for everything. Lumber is more expensive than you think. It’s all right. I have the money for a little while longer. Everything is almost done anyway.
On the way back I walked by The Deli. I hoped Tony wouldn’t be outside. He’s outside a lot when I walk by. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for why that is, but I don’t know any of them. I just have to think “it’s one of those things.” And I hate thinking that. I’ll have to work out why he almost always manages to be out front when I walk by. It’s probably just because he’s always outside and I walk by a lot. Probably just a probability thing. I should ask Bob when I get home, presuming Bob is still at my house. But, I’m pretty sure he is. He had all his cubes with him today and I know he doesn’t have anything to do. More than likely he’s at my house solving cube after cube after cube, it’s only been a few hours.
Tony is outside. Tony is outside because he’s hosing down the pavement. He’s hosing down the pavement because it makes him look like he’s doing something even though he’s doing nothing at all. There is no reason in the world to hose down a pavement. Not that I’m aware of. If it didn’t mean speaking to Tony Aramingo, I would ask Tony Aramingo why he hosed down the sidewalk.
Tony is a fat man with a hose. He usually wears whites. Deli garb. When a man works at a deli, he’s usually covered in bits of lunchmeat. Blood really. He’s covered in blood. Not Tony. Tony was scott clean. Tony was always scot clean. He made sure he never did an ounce of work, but reaped all the benefits. There’s a kid here, he works here for extra money for school. He works for extra money because his folks cant afford to send him to school. I overheard him talking about it while waiting for a hoagie one day. He’s a nice kid. At the end of the day he’s always covered over in evidence of his day at work. Sweat, dirt, sandwich bits. He works hard. Tony hoses the sidewalk. Just keeps everything outside looking clean. That’s Tony Aramingo. He was outside on my way back from the lumber yard.
“Yo!” He said. He was hosing my way. It was too late to cross the street. For most of the way back I was going through patterns in my head. Things to do, ways to place all the dominos. Would I have enough? Probably not. I’d need to get to the store and get another big order. Patterns. Hearts. Stars. Figure eights. Lanes and twists. One at a time. A steady hand and a pure, focused mind. Each black figure floating towards the finish line. Each shape divine and different. We’re running now. Look at the black shapes. They’re going to keep going, flowing together.
It’s easy for me to fall into these thoughts and it speeds the walk along. My shoes make good sounds on the pavement. The faster I walk the faster it blurs the faster I walk the faster it goes. I lose concentration. I sort of go away. Sometimes I wind up far past my house. Once I came around at a red light sixteen blocks from my house. It took about an hour to walk back. I must’ve just soothed down into the sounds for an hour. But it wasn’t wasted time. A lot of planning got done on that trip. Today was one of those days. I could’ve walked to the other side of the earth if Tony Aramingo and his hose hadn’t come along. I should have crossed the street. If I had been thinking of the double shift line instead of the double wrap around, I probably would’ve crossed the street. But I wasn’t, and now I had to live with that choice. I was thinking of the double shift, I wouldve been across the street and I could’ve avoided this whole problem. Now I have to deal with this fat idiot and his hose. Though. His hose is fascinating. Water is entrancing. Fluid. Like Dominos.
“Where you goin in such a hurry.”
“Home.” I was still walking fast. I was walking faster and faster as I got closer and closer. I was trying to match the sound of my shoes to the sound of the water. Both were splatting against the pavement. My shoes were still mushy and wet from the mud. The faster I walked the closer I got to reaching a harmonic rhythm with the water. Just keep it up. Don’t listen to this idiot. He’s going to ruin your whole day. Just keep walking past. Just try to get by.
I’m going to have to cross that river of water eventually. I can wash all the mud off my shoes. That would be helpful, but I should just jump over it and keep going. I don’t want to splash the water and ruin the sound. I need to get home. I should tell bob about my day, about all the commotion at the lumber yard. He’d like the lumber yard I don’t know why I’ve never taken him down there. Lots of stacks of rectangles.
“Home huh?” I hate this man.
“Yes. I’m headed home because I left because I had to go to the lumber yard because I needed lumber but there was a situation where Jack was yelling at me because I was making a mess. I was making a mess because I was in a hurry. I was in a hurry because the last time, I was there too long for Jack. Jack got the lumber yard from his father. Who got it from his father...”
“Right. Right. Lumber. Ya gotta have lumber.” What’s the point of talking? Why would anyone waste their time saying things like this man just let fly out of his mouth. Nobody gained anything from what he just said. I don’t even know what is going on. “You want a sandwich?”
Damn. I did. I did want a sandwich. One of those ones where he puts the olive oil on the roll before he puts the lunch meat on there, then bakes the whole thing so the olive oil works into the roll. Oh. Oh damn. I do want a sandwich. Damn.
“I would like a sandwich, yes. I’m hungry because I was at the lumber yard earlier and there was a lot of commotion and it made me hungry. There was a lot of commotion because–“
”Yeah, right. Lumber. I’ll fix you somethin nice.” He brought me into the store. I wasn’t expecting to go into the store today. My feet were muddy. I was going to tell him but then I’d wind up telling him about why they were muddy and I’d be back into the lumber story again. It’s hard for me not to tell the whole story all the time. If he asked me why my feet were muddy, and I just said “mud.” it wouldn’t be much of an explanation, would it? Of course there was mud at some point. That much is clear, but then when do you stop? When do you stop telling him about why your feet were muddy? The lumber? The floor? The dominos? The house before this? The event? High school? It goes back and back and back. When does it end?
“You want provo?” he means provolone. Of course I do. I nod. I don’t want to tell him why I want provolone.
“Yeah, we’ll get you fixed up.” he says. He’s looking at me now. He always sort of stares at you. It makes a person uncomfortable. I think he likes that, gives him a little feeling of power before he starts in on you. Or at the very least that’s what he does before he talks to me. Every time. Every single time. “You know I was with Elaine before you right?”
I nodded. I did know that. He always told me. He always told me right after he asked if I wanted provolone. If nothing else, I admired the consistency of the event. It was always the same. It moved the same way. I liked that about it. I liked that and provolone cheese and olive oil. He’s going to talk about the springtime dance. And then he’s going to talk about make out point. And then he’s going to tell me half of the story so that my imagination runs away with me and I try to figure out exactly what happened that night. He figures I’ll assume the worst and then feel bad all day. That’s how he works. That’s how his mind works. One by one by one.
“You know I took her to the Springtime dance one time right?” I nodded. He took my Elaine to the Springtime Dance. She didn’t have a good time. She told me so. She said that he just walked around and talked to his friends the whole time, while she sat and drank punch on the far side of the room. When they danced he stepped on her feet and his breath smelled like he’d been drinking. She wasn’t sure if he had been, but she was always a bit naive. He had been. He brought a flask of Jack Daniels in his inside pocket.
“Man. I was banged up that night. I brought a flask of Jack Daniels in that inside pocket. You know the ones in the suits?” I nodded. I did. I’ve worn suits. I had a black one that I wore from time to time, on big occasions. My life is slowly running out of big occasions so I get less and less use out of the suit. I had a few chances to wear the suit in the last year or so, but I was busy on the days of the events, so I stayed at home and worked, but wore the suit while I structured and built.
I like the suit. It’s layered and leveled. The tie got in the way a few times. It started a few lines now and again. It was irritating but challenging. I am very patient.
We’re the only two people in the store. I’m not sure where the kid is. The one who’s usually working his tail off while Tony hoses the street. There aren’t any customers. It’s a strange hour of the day. Most people are at work. Tony is at work. He’s filling a roll with a selection of meats and provolone cheese. He continues. He goes on. And on. “We dance all night. Oh boy. It was a blast.” They only danced for three songs, and when they did, he stepped on her toes and she smelled his breath. That’s all that happened. I know this because she told me. I know it with all my heart because she told me. She wouldn’t lie to me. Never.
“Then afterwards,” This is where it gets hard to be in this store. To be so close to this fat man who is in charge of most of my eating. I hate this part of the story. But that’s where we are in the conversation and this is where it’s going. He’s going to hit the cliffhanger. He’s purged through all the boring setup that doesn’t really set much up at all, and now he’s going to go for the cliffhanger. Here we go. He’s got that smirk on his face. Just a slow grin that lets out that same smell that she must have smelled that night so long ago that exists so differently for the both of them. Here it goes.
“And then we went up to Look Out Point. But you don’t want to hear about that though. That’s not something you’re interested in. I mean, hellcat. You know what I mean. She was a hellcat that night.” She wasn’t ever a hell cat. She was my wife. I’d tell him so, but I’d run through the entire story and if he interrupted me I don’t know what I would do. I had a dream about it once. I woke up crying. I was thrilled about it. He was terrible. “We get up there and she. Is. Hot. Let me tell you...” He’s touching my food and talking about my wife. Dreams. Put it aside. Think about dominos. Don’t think about him. Don’t think about her. Don’t think of the event. He’s almost through now. He’s at the cliff hanger. He’ll be done. “But I don’t think I need to go on.” He didn’t ever need to go on. He didn’t need to start.
Today must have been different. I don’t know why. He kept talking. He was done making the sandwich, had wrapped it in deli paper, but decided to keep speaking. Luckily enough, he changed topic. But I wish he hadn’t. I wish he just handed me my sandwich and then I could leave and then I could eat this perfect meal and continue with my project.
“You want another sandwich for that buddy of yours?” He meant Bob. Bob always wants a sandwich. I nodded.
“What’s his name again?” I’d never told him in the first place but I guess it was fair to tell him. He had been feeding him for the last few months.
“Bob.” I said.
“No no. You call him something else sometimes. Right? Something goofball.”
“I call him Rubicks’s Bob because he likes Rubick’s Cubes and his name is Bob.” I don’t know how he knew I called him that, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to leave. I needed to get out of here. This conversation has gone on for long enough, and suddenly it’s going on for longer than it usually does and it’s making me uncomfortable. I started to sweat and I’m sure it was noticeable. He was making me sweat and he was enjoying it. That’s what he wanted all along. That’s what he wants every time. He feels like I’m some weak weirdo and he’s a big strong guy and it’s his job to pick on me and my job to be picked on.
“Ahh, that’s right. That’s right.” He’s acting like he knew that. I’m sure that he never did. “What’s he some kinda weirdo.” I started sweating even more. I was swaying back and forth. Fidgeting. He’s getting under my skin and he knows it. I don’t want to tell him anything about Bob. Bob shouldn’t be exposed to this horrible man, even though he makes a delicious sandwich.
“I saw him walk by here a few times with those cubes of his. Pretty impressive stuff.” He did know Bob. And he knew what Bob did. Don’t destroy Bob, you filth. Don’t talk about Bob. Don’t talk about my wife. Don’t talk about Bob. Just make my sandwich and let me leave.
“Yeah, maybe I should have a talk with him one of these days. I try to talk to everybody who walks by the store. Keep the community up, you know.” I know. He talks to everyone. He’s the gossip center of town. He starts every rumor. He digs into everyone’s lives and uses it for his own gain. He turns people against each other. Against me. And always. Always with the cliffhanger anecdotes, leaving you worry for the worst. He knows you know that he’s capable of the worst. Here it comes now. “Yeah, I should have a talk with him. Maybe me and him could work something out....” Cliffhanger comment. What could they possibly have to talk about. I can’t even imagine. I’ll have to think about all the possible strings that could connect Bob and Tony to each other and what they together could connect to that would do anything for Tony. Bob is like me, he’s barely a person half of the time. Tony has been talking to me for fifteen minutes and I haven’t said a word, which is volumes more than what Bob would say.
I’m going to have to tell bob. I’m going to have to do something for Bob.
“It’s a shame me and you never got along. We used to get on ok, right?” I nodded. “Back when you were a little more normal. Right before you killed your wife...” That Tony, always with the cliffhangers.
I walked as fast as I could back to the house. Clack clack. I concentrated on my shoes. Clack clack. Clack clack. Not his place to bring that up. Not at all. He was there at the Spring Dance. That’s fine. Tell that story, that’s his story to tell and lie about. Not his place to talk about the event. None. Clack clack. Clack!
I got back to my house a few minutes later with sandwiches for me and Bob. I decided to wait to tell him about everything because if I started telling him about how he shouldn’t talk about Tony, I’d have to tell him about Tony and my wife, and then I’d have to tell him about my wife and the event. I can’t deal with that right now, besides, Bob seems to have encased himself in Rubick’s Cubes.
When I left earlier that day he was solving cubes and lining them around his recliner. Over the course of the day, he had built those lines higher and higher. He was still solving cubes, furiously fast. He had created a box out of cubes, it ran completely around the recliner. He’d stacked them up as high as the middle of the chair.
“Bob, what are you doing.”
“Winning.” He says that a lot when you ask him about the cubes. It’s all about winning. I’d never seen him surround himself like this though. Walling himself off like he was. He was incessant, but his walls were starting to get too high for him to reach his bags of cubes. I wasn’t sure how he was going to continue at this point, or how he was going to finish. Or for that matter, what the finish was. What was the end of the game?
“Bag.” He said. Apparently I was the solution to the “how am I going to reach my bag” Puzzle. I grabbed his duffel bag and handed it to him over one of the walls of cubes. The one with all the blue facing out. He took it from me and didn’t say anything else. He just continued stacking and solving, solving and stacking. I let him go. I didn’t even mention the sandwich. It was better I didn’t, I might get caught in a situation where I run through the whole event. And I don’t need to do that right now. Not yet. I’ll tell him later.
“I’m going to go upstairs, Bob. If you need anything come get me.” I said it but it didn’t really mean much. I don’t think he heard a word of it. I briefly wondered how high he would go before he realized it would be impossible to completely enclose himself in the cubes. Or how he would get out.
In order to close the box on himself, he’d have to put a flat row of cubes over the top of the box. It would be physically impossible. Though I’ve seen Bob do some pretty impressive things with a rubicks cube, I don’t know if he can suspend them in mid air. Maybe he could. I don’t have a lot of doubts about it either way.
But eventually he’s going to run out of reach. He’s not tall enough to reach the ceiling even if he stands on the chair. I don’t think he is. Maybe he is. I don’t know. Though I question his ability to keep it structurally sound the whole way up. I know a thing or two about balance and that’s probably going to come over around the 20th level or so. It’ll just start swaying, and then other parts will sway, and then they’ll all sway too much and it’ll all come down. Nothing good lasts forever. Not me, not her, not bob or his hand made, color coordinated prison. I need to go lie down. I hate to do it, but I’m going to eat my sandwich and take a nap.
I should be working on the project. I should be working. Planning is great, but especially now, I just want to sit with my crates of dominos and set to work. Quiet. Organized. Nothing but hours upon hours of steady handed problem solving. No interruptions. I’ll be there in a few days. I don’t need much more. I need to stock up on food. I don’t know if I could handle going back to Aramingo’s. Maybe once or twice. Goddamn those sandwiches. He’d be completely out of my life it weren’t for those sandwiches. The all consuming power of consumption.
But I’ll be free of everything in a few days. Once I start laying the beginning tracks down, everything will fall behind. Fall behind. Fall forward. Forward motion like nothing else. Nobody’s seen anything like it.
It’s important that I lie down for a little while. After I eat the sandwich. I’ll go over plans while I eat the sandwich, but that’ll be it. I can’t go much further until I get the lumber anyway. The unknown lumber. I wonder how that’s going to turn out. It better be close. I need it to work out. I also need to find my saw. I think I may have left it at my last house. I may have left it at the last house because I did such a good job last year of picking out lumber. I barely needed to alter anything. Of course that wound up ruining my whole day today. I should have seen that last time. I should have known that picking out the best lumber last time would start everything down a road that would lead to me hiding in my room while my friend hid from everything downstairs.
I should have known that I wouldve wound up nearly getting tossed out of the lumber yard, then running into that fat jerk, then getting a sandwich and then.... AH! No more. No more. Stop stop.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then he talked about my wife. And then he finished the sandwich and then he got that look in his eyes and then he talked about the event and then I took my sandwiches and I walked home clack clack clack and then I saw bob and he was boxing himself in and I had to help him do it. I helped him cage himself in his cubes and then I went upstairs to eat a sandwich from that fat fuck that fat prick how the fuck fuck fuck fatfuck...
And then I blacked out. I fell down deep. Off the edge. Into a pool of water. It was water from his hose. From the clean man outside of the deli. The pool of water was rushing down to the gutter. I was in it. I was cruising along. Clack clack. The scene disappeared around me. The skies and the buildings all melted, replaced by black. Black Black. Two white dots in the distance. They erupted in the middle of all the blackness. Bang bang. I floated down below them. Diagonal spots hovering above me. Snake eyed domino coming to crush me. Clack Clack. Clack clack.
Eyes of a train. Clack clack. Clack clack. I killed her on the train. Clack clack. She’s gone and I’m here. I killed her and she killed me. Come back. Come back. There were too many people. I didn’t mean it. Too many things fell down the wrong way. If I had changed any one thing, she’d be with me. In this house, but it would be full of life, she’d be swirling around where ever she goes. There would be light. If she were still here, I’d be all right. Just fine. Bob would be gone. The floor downstairs would be perfectly level and filled with furniture. This room with her clothing, other rooms filled with children and life. Movement. Forward movement. But she’s not. But she fell. But I pushed her. Clack clack. Clack clack
“ERIC ERIC ERIC ERIC” It woke me. It was from downstairs. It was bob. I was still on the bed. I was half on my pillow, half on a sandwich. The nap and the sandwich ruined each other. Ruined. “ERIC ERIC ERIC ERIC.” My name is Eric. He’s calling for me. I don’t know why. Either he’s trapped, or it fell. One or the other. Maybe it’s both. It fell and he’s trapped underneath. Maybe I should leave him there and eat his sandwich. Shit.
“Hang on. I’ll be right there. I was dreaming. I was sleeping. I napped. I was tired.” Exhausting to have to talk like that. I don’t know why I do it with Bob. I’m not even sur he understands half the things I say anyway. “Eric Eric Eric Eric.”
“I’m coming, Bob. I’m coming.” Moving forward through the hallway towards the stairs, I can hear him crying a little. He’s whimpering. I’m still not sure if he succeeded or not, but whatever happened it made him sad. Whatever happens, it’s probably going to make you sad. It’s just an eventuality. You start off however you want. You’re going to wind up sad. It’s the last brick. Every time.
Rounding the corner and setting foot on the first stair I can already see that I was right. There are cubes everywhere. Rubick’s bob has escaped his prison at least. That’s probably the best of it. But he’s probably furious that the building is either done, or demolished. He probably had his heart set on living inside that cube for the rest of his days. If that’s the way he wanted to go, I would have let him. I would have to make arrangements in the living room, but who am I to tell anybody how to live their lives. Die their deaths.
“I’m here Bob. I came down from upstairs.” I said.
Bob was on the floor. He was resting on his haunches. He was staring and he was crying a lot. More than I thought he’d be. He was grabbing at the cubes. He was just sort of pushing them around, like he decided to bring them near him, and then decided to push them away at the last second. He was just sort of smearing them. Batting them like a cat. I didn’t really know what to do. Bob and I didn’t even know each other all that well. We just share similar obsessions. I almost said psychosis just then. That wouldn’t have been accurate or fair. We just enjoy different things and we enjoy them more than most people. It’s not a crime. Not yet anyway.
“Bob. Bob. Bob. What’s going on Bob.”
Bob just sort of gestured around him like I didn’t see the cubes everywhere and then said nothing. I didn’t know what to do. “What should I do Bob, I don’t know what to do.” He just kept crying and batting the cubes around. Swirling the mess. Each cube running off at random into another cube like atoms smashing. They made a beautiful sound, but I couldn’t hear over Bob’s constant crying. Screaming. Like a child.
“Come on Bob, get in your chair. You shouldn’t sit on the floor, you’ll get sick.” I’m pretty sure it’s not true, but it’s something my mother always told me when I was a child. Most of the time it didn’t make sense. I knew it even then, but it was comforting to know she was looking out for me. She wanted me to get off the floor because I was her child and she wanted me to be safe and probably, just like now, for me to stop screaming.
I picked him up under his armpits and helped him back into his chair. I had to brush a few cubes off the seat in order to set him down. As they clacked on the ground he kicked them and sent them skittering off towards the front door. He looked like he hated them. I knew how he felt. But it didn’t matter. I couldn’t relate that to him. He was just angry that his castle fell. When he was seated his wails slowed somewhat, though he was still clearly upset. I reached down and picked up a cube and scrambled it. He lunged at it and solved it in about ten seconds. His right hand made the first turn. After that I couldn’t tell what he was doing.
“I got you a sandwich, you want a sandwich.” He didn’t answer, he just shook his head and scrambled his cube. I handed him the mystery sandwich. I didn’t see what Tony fixed him. I started “I didn’t see...” But I cut myself off. I didn’t want to get into it again. I just handed him a paper square which presumably hid a sandwich inside. He took it and opened it up. There was a ham and cheese on rye with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. It was cut diagonally and I each half had a frilly toothpick stabbed through the center. One was red and one was green. There was also a piece of paper stabbed through the green one. It rested on the sandwich.
He pulled the green toothpick, looked at the card and put it in his top pocket. Then he started to eat the sandwich. “What’s it say on the card, Bob.” Bob had a mouth full of sandwich meat and didn’t even look up at me. I can’t figure this guy out and he lives in my house. Sometimes he seems like a five year old child, then other times he’s like a grown man. He just looks like an average guy, eating a sandwich, brushing off a ridiculous comment by one of his buddies. He looked at me like I was crazy. His eyes said “What? Like I’m going to tell you? You crazy prick.”
“Bob? Bob what’s on the card, Bob. I bought you the sandwich Bob.” He looked up at me with a mouth full of meat and cheese and said “says not to show you.”
“The card says not to show me?” That fat bastard is slipping notes to my friend and he’s dumb enough to put it in the sandwich I bought, like we weren’t going to eat it together and then writes “don’t tell Eric.” among whatever else is on that card. That takes a lot of guts. Fat, fat guts.
“Yep.” he said. Like he’s a normal person all of a sudden.
“Bob. Show me the card. I paid for the card Bob. Let me see that card.” I was getting angry with Bob. I just picked him up off the floor. He should show me what it says on the card. “Bob I just picked you up off the floor Bob. Show me the card.”
“The card says not to.”
“Fuck that card Bob. I just picked you up off the floor because you were on the floor crying because you woke me up because I was sleeping because I was tired from the day because I had to deal with the fat asshole who gave you that card because he was out front washing the sidewalk for no fucking reason while I walked by because I had to go get lumber for my project because the floors are uneven because....because tell me what’s on the card Bob.” it takes a lot to get me angry, but I made a lunge for him. It didn’t really need to be much of a lunge. I said this “nyahh!” as I lunged!
Bob didn’t even move. He just kept chewing. I guess because the card didn’t say I couldn’t read it, just that he shouldn’t show me.
I read the card. Here’s what it says: “I think me and you could should work something out. You should give me a call. Maybe we can make each other some money.” then it listed his number. I don’t know what it meant really. I just know I don’t want that guy anywhere near Bob. “Bob. Forget this happened. You don’t want to deal with this guy. He’s a bad person. He’s a bad person because...because....because I say so Bob. You understand?”
On the other side of the card was another phone number. It said “This is it, Bob. You and me.” It was a one eight hundred number. I have no idea what it could be for. How could Bob make anyone any money. Also, why don’t I have a phone?
I don’t have a phone because, I don’t like talking to people. I don’t like talking to people because it takes forever and they get annoyed with me and then I feel like a weirdo, then I realize I am a bit of a weirdo and then I feel bad about myself and then I feel like I should go home and lay down.
Oh yeah. That’s why.
I’ve got some things to work out now. I have to find a phone or talk to Tony. I cannot and I will not talk to Tony ever again. Unless it’s a sandwich order. That’s the only way. If he starts talking to me in any other way, I will not speak to him, or I will crush him. One or the other. I’ve got to figure out what this number is for. How Bob could help Tony.
Though, Tony has an angle on everything. I think Tony thinks I’m very crazy, when in fact, I”m just a little crazy. I don’t think that guy ever said a word to me before everything happened. Then, after everything happened, I started coming around a bit more and he would just tell me whatever was on his mind because he’s never really heard me talk. I don’t talk much. I wind up nodding ninety percent of the time I’ve seen him. He thinks I’m fully gone, so he doesn’t have any problems talking to me about whatever is on his mind.
Tony runs that Deli. He doesn’t do much there, but he’s got his feet wet in a few other areas of life. His deli isn’t even how he makes most of his money. He scams a lot of good people out of their money. He knows a lot of the wrong people. He helps a lot of the wrong people wash their money through his deli. He’s not a good person. More than likely he’s spotted a mark in Bob and is going to try to take advantage of him. I cannot, will not allow that to happen. I’ll need to set things in motion so that doesn’t happen. I need a phone.
Bob finished his sandwich and fell asleep sitting up. He had the wrapping papers and what looked to be half the weight of the sandwich in crumb form all over his chest. The red toothpick was in his mouth. I picked up the paper and the green toothpick, brushed some crumbs off him onto the paper and threw it away. I tried to pull the red toothpick out of his mouth, but he started to stir when I pulled on it. So I stopped. I let him have it. I just hoped he wouldn’t choke. He probably wouldn’t.
I still had the card in my hand. He probably had forgotten all about it by now. He was sleeping and that was that as far as he was concerned. Just to be sure I mixed up forty or so cubes on the floor. Whatever happened, he wouldn’t be able to move until he found all the one’s that were scrambled, then righted them all. I spread them around. Some were solved, some weren’t. Some had just the top face of them untouched. He would have to sort through all of the cubes to figure out which were solved and which weren’t. He’d be there for a while. It would give me time to get to a phone and figure out what was going on.
All of this precaution is probably unnecessary as I’m pretty sure Bob doesn’t really care about that card or what it said. He was probably angry it kept him another few seconds from that sandwich.
There weren’t many places I could go to use a phone. Everyone has a cell phone these days. I don’t have a cell phone because I don’t like talking on the phone because I don’t like talking to people because I talk like this and it makes people hate me. I thought about the problem while I scrambled some cubes on the floor in front of a sleeping Rubicks Bob. A phone would be tricky. I didn’t know any of the neighbors. I was not about to go down to the deli. There were a few other stores within walking distances, but there weren’t any pay phones. I could walk into the store and ask to use the phone, but they wouldn’t let me use it. Why would they let a random man into their store to use the phone, especially one who rarely talks, and when he does, won’t stop talking. It’s a weird person to have floating around your store and it’s probably not a good idea to start a relationship with him.
The train station. I could go to the train station. There are payphones at the train station. I saw the payphones at the train station when I was taking the train to get the blueprints for the house. I was getting the blueprints for the house so that I could measure everything. To be sure. I need to be sure. I need to know what’s on the other end of this phone line. What could Tony want with Rubicks Bob.
I scrambled a few more cubes for good measure, and hid two in the closet. Bob would be counting as he solved the puzzles and he would realize that two were missing. He’d tear the house apart looking for them. He wouldn’t figure everything out until later on when I get home.
Phone. I didn’t get as far as I thought that I would. I shut the door behind me and walked down the stairs to the sidewalk. Across the street there was a woman leaving her house at the same time. I don’t know why. I’d never seen her before. There aren’t many people who live on this block anymore. Especially My side of the block. My side of the block was empty. A series of abandoned row homes that had long since been bought and paid for, sold and moved out of, inhabited and uninhabited over the last few years. She must have been new. I didn’t even know that house was up for sale. I never saw the sign. I would have noticed.
I had to put my head down though. I didn’t need to be bothered right now. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. This day had been ruined already with talking to people. I’ve talked more in the last ten hours than I have in months. It’s been enough and I don’t really need this on top of everything else. I put my head down and walked a little faster for the sidewalk.
“Hello!” Ah shit. No no no. I put my head down further and sped up my walk.
“Hey! Hey!” She’s coming for me. She’s coming for me. No. No. No. Keep walking. Don’t run. That wouldn’t be nice. But don’t rule it out either. If she gets a little closer, maybe run. Think about running. But right now, walk quick like you have to get somewhere quick. And you do. You need to get to the phone as quick as you can.
But she trumped me. She started running first. “Hey! Wait up!” and she started running towards me. I looked over my shoulder and saw her hustling as fast as she could. As soon as she saw me look, she knew there was no way I didn’t know she was talking to me. “Heeeyyy!” She said as she got progressively closer. I was starting to look like one of those goofball sleepwalkers so I decided to make a run for it too. I’m not very fast and I’m wearing dress shoes, so keep that in mind.
I was equal parts frightened and impressed by her ability to run at full speed and yell at the same time. She kept yelling for me to stop, but I couldn’t stop. I needed to get to the train station and I needed to not talk to her even more than that. So I took off. People driving by probably thought it looked a little strange. It’s a sexist country we live in. If the rolls were reversed and I were chasing her, someone would’ve ran me over with a car by now. But she’s chasing after me and nobody seems to care. At least one car full of people was laughing at me.
I was watching them laugh at me when I caught my foot on the curb and I fell onto the ground. I fell onto the ground and I landed on my knee and the skin on my knee tore open, then instinctively my hands went out to stop my fall, the skin on the pats of my hands pulled off. And then I sort of rolled, and in doing so scratched the side of my face on the ground. It had been a bad day.
“Oh my god!” she yelled. I scrambled to get back to my feet but she was on me before I could pull myself together. “Oh my god are you ok? I’m so sorry.”
I was bleeding and wasn’t really all together by the time she came to me. I was a little rattled from the adrenaline. There was blood falling from my hands. I needed to get to a phone. Phone. Phone. “Phone.” I said. She doesn’t know what that means. I don’t really know why I said anything out loud.
“No no. You don’t have to call anybody. I’m not going to hurt you, I just wanted to say hello, then I tried to catch up with you, then you started running and then I wanted to catch up so that I could tell you I wasn’t really chasing you. And this looks really bad. I’m so sorry. Here, let me help you up.”
“No no. I’m ok.” I started to stand up, but I was still a little frazzled. This woman liked to talk so much that she chased me down like a dog. We weren’t going to get along and I still had to get to the phone.
“I don’t want to talk. I have to get to a phone. At the train station.”
“Train station? I”ve got a phone. C’mon. Let me get you cleaned up and you can use my phone.”