Craig M. Workman attended The University of Kansas and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of General Studies in Literature, Language and Writing. He later was admitted to graduate studies at The University of Missouri-Kansas City, and graduated in 2010 with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Media Arts. In 2009, he was one of three hundred fiction writers nominated in that year for The AWP Intro Journals Award, a literary competition for the discovery and publication of best works by new and emerging writers. He is the 2012 recipient of the McKinney Prize in Short Fiction, the 2014 Whispering Prairie Press Flash Fiction Contest winner, a 2015 Best of the Net nominee for Prose Poetry, and a 2017-18 Charlotte Street Foundation Studio Writer-in-Residence. He is an adjunct professor/lecturer of composition, American fiction and creative writing, an I-Ph.D. candidate, and a Doctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Johnson County Community College. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in more than two dozen journals, including Kansas City Voices, Midwestern Gothic, London Literary Review, The Subterranean Quarterly, The Legendary, Corium Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Stanley the Whale, Linguistic Erosion, The Eunoia Review, Midwest Literary Magazine, Kerouac’s Dog, Shotgun Honey, Zombies Gone Wild Anthology, Literary Juice, Fiction on the Web, and Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. He currently lives in Prairie Village, Kansas.
RUSTY DOORS TO NOWHERE AND STAIN, FIGHTING
Really hot summertime, 2018
Ok, so this is what happened the time I made my little brother vanish into Grandpa’s old pantry for good. Am I guilty for saying that? I suppose so. He should have been there for us. Well, as much as your father could be there when he was at three-hundred-plus bucks a day with that fucking habit, that smack-your-arm and shove in the needle thing, and Stanley and I watched him do that shit every day and he would always want to know and Stan would say something like what he said every time a six-year-old was confused and wanted me, the teenage idiot, to make it make sense.
"Ned, is he taking medicine?"
"Yeah, buddy. Yeah. Come on."
And we would go to that ugly-assed rusty pantry in the garage and we would open that thing ten, fifteen, thirty times a day, as if some magic fairy or some other thing we knew by then didn't exist had deposited a box of Fruity Fuzzles or Cheesy Rings or any of the other things the kids talked about at school but had never seen aside from the commercials on our black-and-white, dusty television in the basement. What can I say? We were hungry. I guess that doesn’t make much sense to you, but there you have it.
When comparing Stan and me, I guess I had always been the lucky one. Now I wasn’t so sure. My little brother was always so nervous. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t exactly excited to be living at home with a dad that would’ve sold us for a fix, but I wasn’t so sure I showed it as much as Stan. He grabbed onto his hands and twisted them all the time, and licked his lips like he was waiting for something. He had this twitch that looked like he was touching a live wire every few minutes. I don’t really remember when it started, but it’s something I think about nowadays as I wander and think. The biggest thing about Stan being jumpy is that whenever my dad started to get on his case (in his shit, as dad used to say), he would look around wide-eyed for a few seconds, and then he would throw up all over the carpet or the kitchen or the moldy concrete in the basement next to the paint he had spilled. And as always, I’d antagonize him by throwing something at his head so he would get out of my brother’s face and try me on for size. Stan would sit there next to his puke and shake his head and mouth no, no, it’s okay, no. After the big one would shove me against the wall, or give me a backhand with his huge shiny ring, he’d leave with a slam of the crumbly door and I’d go help Stan clean up. Our father would do his regular thing: throw away one or two of our shirts or socks (which I’d rescue from the trash later) and yell at Stan the way only our dad could with hey Stanley the Stain. Stain, you know, because you are one. On all of it. You killed my wife when you came out. And after, we’d go and play Bolt Drop, or go get some of the books I stole from the library out from our spot under the bed and read to him. He’d fumble with the necklace our mom used to wear, the gold harp on a dingy, silver chain our great-grandmother brought from Ireland, I think, and he’d listen to the words of whatever we were reading and nod silently, slowly.
Sorry buddy, I would always say.
It’s ok, Neddy. He won’t always be mean to us. It seemed like a pretty crazy thing for a kid to say. At the time, I might have just chalked it up to something a scared six-year-old thought when he couldn’t think of anything else. Other times when he said this, I was under the impression we were already nowhere, that this couldn’t be how the world was, and that other kids were probably doing cool stuff like we saw on those after-school specials on the little TV. I didn’t want to crush him, so I always just nodded. Well, now I suppose he was half-right. Which half? Well, I guess it’s a kind of glass of milk full or whatever it is question.
Here’s the thing about food we always knew, but you might not: it’s important. I know now that Stanley and myself were what you might call underfed, but since I left with that pantry riding on top of the shopping cart, I’ve learned how some people eat. A few months ago, I went into a Save-Rite with a bit of cash I’d panhandled, and I think I had what some people would call a panic attack, or I don’t know. I hadn’t been in a grocery store since our mom was alive. Food. Counting food and feeling that tingly, sickening rumble in my stomach, the one that Stan felt much more than me. Thirty-one kinds of pasta, a coast-to-coast aisle of hundreds of boxes of cereal, a few dozen different labels of milk (I didn’t remember they came in gallons), and I can’t really remember what else. What a mistake.
The last morning Stan was with me was on a Saturday, and it was pretty cold, even though we were used to no heat. The letter I opened the day before was from people called CPS, and was addressed to one kind-of-living adult and one dead one. The bright yellow paper said the school had reported us, and they were coming day after tomorrow to take us somewhere safe. We were pretty excited and so, of course, we threw the letter away and counted down the hours. Our father had been gone a few days, and so we started with our usual weekend game of Bolt Drop in the garage. Once the roaches got out of the way, it was a great way to pass the time. Stan came up with it one day when we were hiding out there. The only things we really had to do anyway were letting them get in our shit, and figuring out stuff to do when they weren’t making us make them money. He would set up an empty green bean can next to the back tire of the rusty convertible that I had never ridden in, and a Super Value!-brand corn can on the other side of the garage, so we could bounce our shots off the pantry. And yes, I mean that upright, one-doored, bullet-proof hulk of a thing with the numbers 305 stenciled on the door in faded, orange paint. It was only supposed to be our Bolt Drop backboard. That’s all.
Stan had the first shot, just like always. He stood by the old car and put the rusty bolt to his nose and dropped it. Clink. He nailed that first one every time, and I remember how happy he was playing it with me. And when he smiled, the gaps in his smile from losing two teeth at once the night before reminded me I needed to go through the couch cushions later to find some change to give him. Better to have him believe in a few nice things before he gets older and realizes the Tooth Fairy is the least of the lies. Since he made this shot, now came the difficult part of our sport. He put the bolt over his head and grinned again, and then frowned.
“Remember that one commercial on the TV with the funny robot that sells a cheeseburger, Neddy?”
I did remember. They had looked good.
“Yeah, Stan. Burger Bin?”
“What if we each had our very own personal cheeseburger?”
He threw the bolt, and it was a backboard shot, off the pantry, and into the green bean can. The pantry echoed for a few seconds, and a bit of rust fell from the door in a cloud.
“Yeah, buddy. That would be great.” It would be more than great, I thought.
It was my turn to do the nose-shot, and so I leaned down to grab the bolt from the can, and I smelled something strange. Something good, but strange. My nose-shot had to wait for a moment, because I suddenly thought my little brother had somehow played one hell of a joke on me.
“Stanley, did you get burgers or something?”, I said. I scanned the garage, waiting for the punchline, though I knew he had been with me all morning, and even if he had a way to get to the Burger Bin, we had no money and—after all—my brother was six.
He showed me his missing teeth again and shook his head east to west, and came to my side of the garage. I noticed that other than the smell of food, my brother needed a bath. One more thing to remember to do later. Once Stan lifted his chin and snuffed at the air, his mouth tightened into an O, and he moved closer to the pantry.
“It’s in there, over there. It’s in there. Maybe it’s in there.”
I shook my head and got ready to go inside, because this didn’t seem so funny. But I put my head next to the pantry where his was. What was this?
“Hold on, buddy. Back up a little bit”, I said.
I turned the rusty handle and forced the door open, and on the top shelf of the pantry, we saw two things we had never seen before in person: Two bright yellow packages that read Burger Bin Robo-
Cheese on the wrappers. I grabbed them and showed them to my little brother as if they were the rarest comic book in the world. They were still warm. Really warm. I unwrapped one of them, and Stan grabbed at it.
“Back up a little bit”, I repeated. I opened the bun, looking for some reason this was happening, but all I could see was a really big piece of meat, lots of cheese, and all the other stuff they showed in that commercial. I took a bite, and my stomach felt as if I could be happy for once. I would have thought it was a dream, but no food ever tasted this good in my dreams. It felt like I was looking down a long tunnel for a moment, and then I handed the other one to my brother. “Well, here you go, Stan. I guess you could've wished for a soda and some fries, too.” Stan laughed at that bigger than I did. It seemed neither one of us could believe what had just happened, but we were too hungry to turn it down.
“That’s a funny-” Stan dropped the last part of his burger on the floor and made a sound like a cowboy herding cattle in that old western show we used to watch. He stretched out his hand and pointed to where we had just found heaven-on-earth. And I turned around to see two purple cups and two steaming orders of french fries on the top shelf. “What is this thing, Neddy? It’s Magic? What’s it mean?” I laughed so hard at the sight of this new stuff I almost choked on my burger. Stan said it right, I guess. What was this thing?
“I don’t...”, I started. My words sounded like someone else had spoken them on a radio in the other room, but it was me. Stanley waved his arm as if he had a magic wand in his hand like Mickey Mouse in that show.
“Are we magic now?”
“Lock the garage door. Let’s eat.”
I don’t remember much about Grandpa Joe. He was in what he called The Service and fought in a place called Vietnam. He always smiled a lot, just like Stan, except Grandpa Joe’s teeth were all there and looked shiny and white and fake, like the painting of that guy on U.S. News Hour with the white hair and the old-time clothes. Grandpa was going to take us away from here, but his heart stopped, and that was that. He once told me that when he got back to our town from the war—he said in-country--that he went to his favorite restaurant right away with his only buddy to survive the war, a guy named Jack. And then they started to order stuff. They ate for most of that first day in-country. Everything they missed about being gone. Grandpa Joe and his friend Jack ate one meal, and then dessert, drank two glasses of milk, and then started all over again, on and on until they could barely get up from the table. Me and Stanley never went to war together and then came back, but I thought about Grandpa’s only big story to me as we did whatever it was we did to get our feast all through the morning and into the afternoon. I went next door and took Mr. Takaki’s newspaper, hoping I could find what I was looking for. In the middle of the stack lay the colorful A&P weekly ad. I came back and gave my brother the red and blue advertisement. He could make out quite a few of the words, but those he couldn’t, I requested from our special box. Deli turkey (two-ninety-nine a pound), Red Delicious Apples, Fried Chicken, Strawberries, something amazing called string cheese, and on and on and on we spoke the names of foods unknown to us. And as we opened the door time after time, we never expected to see what we had just...asked for. The food didn’t just look similar to the pictures in the paper, but exactly like the pictures in the paper, down to how the berries were stacked in the green basket, like they were being transported from the store. Maybe they were. At one point, it occurred to us that we hoped our parents wouldn’t come home. Stanley thought they would try to sell our find. He was probably right about that. Smart kid.
We brought our dusty green blanket into the garage and decided to take a break. Stan curled up on the floor next to an oil stain and smiled like he had just learned the secrets of the universe, and then he was asleep. What had we done? Stanley wanted to know if it was magic, if we were magic. I still liked to read then, and one of the coolest books by that same writer I stole from the library was this one called The Fellowship Ring, or something like that, and there was this guy, a wizard, who could do magic stuff and was really smart, and I read it to Stan a few times before my dad used it to hold up a broken leg on the coffee table. The wizard escapes from another evil wizards’ house or tower, and I remember the name of that place for sure, because it was really a cool name. Orthanc. Sounds like a monster, though it wasn’t. I watched my baby brother sleep, and thought about wizards and that black stoned-tower in Isengard, and hoped at that moment that were now wizards, guys that could escape our tower and go on adventures and save the world, that we could be strong and brave and not be afraid anymore. Can you make something true by thinking about it hard enough?
Stanley jerked awake and scanned the garage. He scratched at his stomach and laughed.
“I thought it was a funny dream,” he said, “but I still feel like I ate everything there is. Everything everywhere.” He jumped to his feet and slapped the rusty door. “Ice cream?” he asked the pantry. Stan opened it, and a blue bowl of chocolate with a spoon had shown up. He clapped and did his best impression of a kangaroo, and some of the ice cream ran down his chin and onto his dirty shirt. A few more bites, and he handed the bowl to me, and then took the harp necklace out from underneath his shirt and put the chain in his mouth. I took a bite of goodness, and then two, and then another.
“Man,” I said. “Good.” Stan jumped up with a hi-ya sound, and I caught him with my free arm. He pulled up to my face and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“Love you, Neddy. Thanks a lot, Ned. Ned, why does dad call me Stanley the Stain?”
“He doesn’t mean it,” I lied. “He’s sick. That’s why he takes that medicine.”
“What’s the most mean thing dad has said to you, Ned?” I didn’t need to think about this at all. I puffed out my chest in the best impression of a horrible guy I could manage, and said one word: “Go.” I un-puffed, and sat down next to my brother. “He told me to go. That was the worst, I guess.” Stan nodded and dropped back down to his feet, knocked on the pantry door, raised his hands like he was about to make something awesome happen, and then burped loud enough to make my stomach turn. I laughed, and a great wad of snot shot out of my nose. I shook my head and ran into the kitchen to grab a rag for my nose. What a cool little brother. It occurred to me later that we had never really had that much to laugh about before, so why not? Still, when my nose was running there in the kitchen, I found myself admiring a six-year-old for being tougher than my mind could manage. We must have been in shock then, because even though we were eating magic food (or something like that) from that pantry, it seemed weird, but not that weird. We were hungry.
I came back into the garage meaning to ask Stan if he would be interested in trying canned pears (three for ninety-nine cents), and then we could figure out what to do next with our find. Things were really, really looking up. I thought about the people who were coming on Monday to rescue us, and wondered if they would let us stay if they saw we had enough to eat now. “Hey Stan,” I said, “What should we chow down on next?” He wasn’t standing where he was just a minute ago. And then the pantry door squeaked open and there was my little brother. His eyes were as wide as dinner plates, and his gums where his teeth were showed up when he started talking a million miles an hour.
“Neddy! Ned. Check this out! Man! Ned! I heard him telling me to come with him, and I could hear him even when the door was shut. I think maybe it was a wizard or something like in that book, so then I opened the door and he told me you wanted me to go hang out with him and but I have to shut the door again. Check it out!” Stanley stepped all the way in and slammed the pantry door shut with a hollow clap. Our family necklace caught in the door by the harp, and it made me smile. It opened a little bit once again, the harp disappeared, and then slammed shut all the way. This was some good stuff. I felt like Stan was getting pretty silly, and it was great to see him happy. I knocked on the door three times, waiting for the joke. No answer. The biggest surprise was that he didn’t knock back, or at least laugh, or something.
“Hey Stan. Stan?” I sang. “Special Delivery from Middle Earth. Your Elves have arrived.”
Nothing. “Ok, Stanley. We should probably get your teeth brushed and get you a bath. Come on, buddy.” I opened the door, and the pantry was empty.
The garage seemed to wobble for a moment before I realized it was me doing the wobbling. That next hour? Two? However long it was, nothing in the garage was as it had been. I moved every box, every bag of trash, and even opened the trunk of that crappy car. I started to cry, and felt guilty because of it. Stanley had to be there. He had to be. How could this be possible? Any more or less possible than a pantry that feeds people on its own? Who was the man Stan was talking to? The pantry fell over onto the concrete floor, and I think I peed in my pants a little at the noise, which made me want to cry awhile longer.
There was something my dad used to say when we did something wrong—or more especially, when he blew out a vein with his rig—and after this much time, looking and doing everything I could think of, and feeling that feeling every day since. What my dad used to say was all I could say, but something I had to say, or I was going to lose my mind forever, like an ice cube sliding down the sink and disappearing into the drain. I sat down on the greasy garage floor and gave the words an incredulous try:
“Makes no damned sense in the world. None.”
I woke up the next morning lying on top of the pantry. It was a Sunday. The first thing I saw in one of the trash bags next to the door was that yellow letter. The CPS people would be coming before we knew it, and now there was only me to rescue. Me and a pantry. I started to panic, and wondered if he really was in there somewhere, and if he could breathe, and if he had food over there, too. I thought of the book with the wizard, and had to wipe the tears for a few minutes. I stood up and shouted the word Frodo told the wizard would open the door to Moria, that strange Elvish word for friend:
“Mel-lon!” Nothing. My stomach was knotting up, and I tried not to puke. “Mel-lon. Stanley, come on.” I opened the pantry door, and then kicked it shut. “Don’t worry. We have to go. We’ll save ourselves. We gotta go. Let’s go. We have to go.”
Poor Mr. Takaki. I always meant to write him a letter and tell him how sorry I was. We stole way more stuff from our neighbor than I was comfortable with, and he didn’t deserve that. He had a green, rusty gardening cart with four big wheels and a long handle. I rolled it easily enough into the garage and after a lot of sweat and words Stanley didn’t want me use, I got Grandpa Joe’s pantry on the platform. There was an old dusty suitcase in the hall closet, and I packed the few clothes Stanley and I owned, our toothbrushes, three books, and our Bolt Drop gear. I figured we’d need all this stuff when he came back.
“Water”, I asked the pantry. The door came open easier this time, and I downed the big plastic jug as quickly as my body would let me. “We’re gonna be ok, buddy. Let’s go. I guess he is done being mean to us.” I rolled us on out of the garage without closing the door, and we set out on our last adventure this side of the world.
You know, it’s funny—not the laughing kind but the other kind—that in less than a year, it seems like my feet have been rolling this cart for ten. I know I’ve only been around for sixteen or so now, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, the way old-timers like Grandpa Joe would say just wait until you’ve seen what I have, my boys, and then you’ll know how to feel old. But it doesn’t really matter what I have to say about much of anything anymore. It’s me and the garden cart and the pantry and my old suitcase, and maybe a little brother somewhere in there. Maybe. That faded 305 stared at me as much as any numbers could, I guess, every day since I left that house, and it’s hard to say exactly what they meant. Was is something some secret code, like the book about the door to the Mines of Moria? Was it an address? These thoughts and about a billion others made me realize I couldn’t really tell what was true about anything I ever knew, and I roll on down through the streets of the city, feeling like one of the slugs in our backyard would if it was floating along on the back of a giant flying bird: confused and wondering where in the hell we were going, and how I made onto a bird in the first place. People like me were meant to crawl as much as other things were meant to fly. My mind is tired. I want to fall apart and hit the ground from flying with wings I never knew how to use. The pantry fed me and kept me alive when I asked it to, but it seemed like I was asking for a terrible thing in exchange for a very small thing the size of a piece of dirt in return.
I can’t say for sure if it’s because our parents were never parents, or if no one anywhere ever cared to show me something different, but there is so much in this world I do not understand. One time a few weeks back, a guy stabbed a little girl in front of me as I rolled, and he laughed when he did it. He was missing a few teeth like Stanley, but he wasn’t a little kid like my brother. But I also see wonderful things every day, and this surprises me, and it maybe keeps me rolling with my gear. Almost every day, I see some parent kiss their kid or hug their kid, or someone who is maybe married to someone else with a really clean-looking outfit kiss them and hug them, and I wonder while the only person I remember ever doing that other than Stanley-in-the-pantry or Grandpa Joe was no one but my mom, unless you count a made-up person in a book. Maybe there is as much good around us all as there is awful stuff, and maybe the war is between either being good to people or stabbing someone with anything you can for as long as you can, with a screwdriver or a needle or with anything else we’re holding to be sure everyone knows you and your kind should not be fucked with.
As I rolled around last night, I heard some strange, hollow, scratching sounds from inside the pantry. It was about to be time to go to sleep, and I might’ve been half-asleep as it was, walking dead on my feet. The Letter was written on some stranger paper, paper so thin I could see right through it when I held it up to the sun. It took me a bit to think about how to read it. I had only seen cursive a few times in old letters from Grandpa Joe and in a few books stolen from the library, and had to let my stretched-out brain take a moment.
11 November 1968
Neddy (he said to call you Neddy by God, please believe me)-
Hello, buddy! To-day, we decided it would be the right time to try to see if you could get this. Our man was so very worried about you, and we figured to-morrow would be too late. I would say this might be hard to believe, but your little brother and you yourself have seen more than enough to help that ship sail all the way down the Mekong. That’s the main river two clicks away, if you didn’t know. I hope you get to see it soon. Ha.
So get ready for it to-day, my boy. A few days ago, when it was really FUBAR because it’s almost the end of monsoon season and the locker in the CP or Command Post for you guys who aren’t in the shit started banging and banging. And now I wonder if there was a reason I was in there by myself but everyone else was on patrol or scaring up some trouble. And when I opened it, this kid came out and he recognized me and I kind of recognized him, even I wasn’t sure I did recognize that kid. I asked him where he come from, and he pointed at that locker. I asked him his unit, and he held up all the fingers of one hand and one finger of his other-hand. After a-while, I knew that meant he thought he was six, or maybe he really was six, but he looked to be eighteen and one-half, just like me. The only thing that made him look funny was that he was missing a few teeth from his top mouth, like lots of VC do to-day once my other guys pistol whip them and stomp them up with that jungle boot leather. And then I said so where did you come from again, and so then he said take a look at this necklace because it comes from our family and I saw the harp that was brung from Donegal and I dropped down on my knees in the mud and hurt my knee in a Mangrove root, and I knew that for some damn reason, that kid wasn’t lying about much of any-thing.
My guys showed up a few minutes after that, and all these guys from my platoon asked who in the sloppy hell is this fucking greenie, and then I look at him and he looks scared to death with an undershirt and pants (he called them sweat-pants) that don’t fit him and his smile that’s missing some important teeth and then I think of my father and mother in Osawatomie Kansas with our wonderful times of Halloween and carving pumpkins with square and strange teeth! and dressing up as the Cooper Clown or as Casper or as a Yellow Dog, and I thought of why he said he was called Stain, and I told them what I could think of right-away:
Guys, I said, this is Jack. He hotfooted across the river after that ambush. He’s folded in until we can get him reassigned. Last guy across.
And now today it’s hotter than the devil’s toenails, as my poppa used say well, like he used to say sometimes and what can I say about to-day? I believe him and al-though it doesn’t’ make any kind of sense to anyone I can tell anyone, but I can tell you, buddy. Does this make any more sense than any-thing else I have seen? I cannot say that it does or does not. Why in hellfire would it make sense to see what I see every day and stay alive any-more than it does to see your grandson come through a damn Batallion locker and have him be the same age as my-self? He has told me about the food, and I do not know about that any more than you might know about that, and I am really sorry for that. I guess there’s a whole lot of stuff we might just never know, huh buddy? Any-way, we now know how much we hope you can come to be here with us, if you might be wanting to do that. And believe me when I say I told our Jack this was not a good idea at-all. But he made certain-sure that I knew it was important, and so I need for you to step in as he said he did, and to come here with us, and we will do our best to figure out all the other stuff we do not know anything about, but I cannot have you with-out my family, even if it is because of me and my family. Please get here, and we can figure this out to-gether, fighting alone or to-gether. I can-not wait to meet you, and we can go state-side and eat beaucoup bar-be-que when we get back to Kansas city with our own and bring every-one home.
SP/4 Joseph A. Reilly
CoA 1/305th Psy-Op
APO to Neddy through this thing
There’s this empty lot I pass by all the time when I wheel around. It’s on Patala Boulevard, near where the really crappy part of town ends and the fancier, remade parts begin, complete with security guards in fancy uniforms and shiny badges. I remember the place that used to be The Lost Sock Laundry down the street. Now, it’s something that says Sushi and Sashimi in the Rain! in bright blue, expensive-looking letters that glow in the dark. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like the name of a movie or something. This seems to be another way to know that I don’t know anything and that I feel rusty and old, like that old clock in mom and dad’s bedroom that they never set for any reason I could. I used to show Stan how to wind it just a few times, and then we would listen to it make its click sound over and over, and it clicked slower and slower until we waited for the last click that never came. This lot seems really huge to still be empty after a long time of nothing being there. The only thing I see there every day is a few leftover bricks, lots of weeds and trash, and a sign with painted words almost too faded to read:
SAY GOODBYE TO ELYSIUM HEIGHTS!
SAY HELLOOOOOO TO PATALA COMMONS!
WE’LL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT
And I can’t think of any better place than this one to unload the pantry and make the clicking slow down to nothing.
It’s hotter than the devil’s toenails, as Grandpa Joe told me the other day or fifty years ago, and I’m about to finish writing this last entry in the shitty green spiral notebook I found in a dumpster the day after Stanley went through the door. The heat in this abandoned lot is almost too much to bear, and I wonder how long I can handle things inside the pantry before it’s too much for me to keep up with. Now that I’ve rolled the pantry to the center-ground of a place one home once stood, I find myself hoping for another home, even if it is in the middle of another war, even though I have never been in one with bullets and things like that. I’m going to stop writing in a second now, and tape this notebook the door of the pantry just before I close it in on myself. Grandpa Joe and our Jack are waiting for me, and I think of that heat and this heat, of that war and this war, of welcome-home meals with lots of empty chairs at the table and that I hope things can change for everyone who wishes for them hard enough.