I spent most of the morning eating oatmeal at the kitchen table until my buddy Ryan called me and said something that I don’t remember anymore. I knew I was supposed to go somewhere. I wasn’t really planning on going anywhere today. Just that I was gonna sit there eating oatmeal until something happened to me, for better or worse.
It wasn’t until I was already out in my truck that I had to give thought to what my stomach was going through. But I was already past the little pink flag on the electric fence where I know if I’ve driven past that there’s no going back to the house for anything. Once I’m past that flag, I’m out of there. That’s the way it has to be.
Now I’m at this guy’s house, way out here. There’s a funny smell; this guy smells funny. Piquant (my step-mom gave me this word of the day calendar and piquant was the word for one day a couple months ago, which is as far as I’ve made it in the calendar so far; it means, like, raunchy smelling or whatever, but in a good way? sort of like a steak or something that’s been sitting out for a while but not for so long that it’s become inedible for a pretty normal and hungry dude like yours truly.) The smell makes me think he probably was eating steak before I got here. Which, pretty early in the a.m. for steak, but I’m not here to judge.
First thing: he’s pouring drinks and blasting Willie Nelson. Georgia on my mind. Just living the way he wants to live, I guess. He shows me how to pour the soda from up high, that way you didn’t have to stir the drink. Who has time for stirring?
Nevermind that he spends the next fifteen minutes sitting in an old canvas deck chair staring down a spruce tree that’s growing perhaps a bit too close to the decking, which then when he goes to repaint the decking like he has to do he says every other year; when he goes to repaint the decking the branches of the spruce are going to rub up against the decking and the wet paint thereupon and not only will the finish be ruined and the grains discombobulated but now the goddamn spruce will have paint on it and what was he supposed to do, stare at a goddamn painted up tree-branch for the rest of his life?
At this point he breaks into tears and more or less throws himself backwards into the deck chair (he stood up at some point in the middle of saying all that stuff and was gripping the edge of the railing so hard I could see his fat knuckles go white), which the deckchair is pretty old and worn out looking, and must’ve already had some kind of a rip in it because when the guy throws himself down there, there’s this crazy sound like a gust of wind catching in a sail—POP, you know?—and the guy goes down and buckles himself down in the framework of this chair. Which, this is no slim guy we’re talking about, and I can’t even understand how he was able to get himself down in there.
All this time I’m about on the verge of tears myself, and I’m sweating pretty good too because of the oatmeal and whatnot. Not to mention how hot it is all of a sudden. I mean to say.
So I said could I use the bathroom?
But the guy’s kind of distracted and doesn’t seem to hear me. I think he’s bent out of shape because he’s still stuck down there in the inside of the chair and I’m not doing anything to help him. And now I can see that there’s gonna be some blood involved. As in, the guy’s bleeding from somewhere down there and I can’t be sure which part exactly is bleeding.
And I have a good reason for not helping, aside from the blood, which is really starting to pick up speed a bit. I don’t know if I can or want to explain my little oatmeal eating contest I had with myself that morning, or the fact that it turned out to be a special high fiber oatmeal, and how I ate so much of it that just to think about it now was enough to get that sour taste in my mouth.
The guy’s pretty mad now. Partially with his own self I guess for throwing him down so hard in his chair even though he must’ve known how the chair had been compromised with regards to its structural integrity and whatnot. But mostly his anger is pretty directly focused on yours truly, this guy (me).
If I try to help you something bad will happen, I tell him.
Something bad already happened, he says, along with some other stuff, mostly personal, against me and my person. Stuff that I don’t feel like sharing with everybody right now because some of it pretty much cut me to my core and to tell you what he said would reveal some stuff about who I am that I’d rather just keep to myself for now.
Something bad already happened! He says again, this time angrier and with even more personal stuff.
You won’t like what happens, I warn him.
I’m trapped in a chair, he shouts. I’m bleeding from either my balls or my asshole. How could it get any worse?
It could get worse, I say.
At this point I start sort of slowly walking backwards and sideways towards the door, which is still open and I can hear the Willie Nelson and I can feel the air conditioning and I know for a fact that there’s an empty bathroom nearby. So I’m just doing that thing, sideways and backwards. And he’s watching me, real cagey, like he knows what I’m up to. But I doubt he knows what I’m up to because it’s pretty much the last thing I would ever think of if our situations were reversed. Which thank God they’re not, but if they were?
The guy seems like he’s starting to get kind of sleepy so I take the opportunity to real quick jump into the house. Dad always said to take advantage of opportunities, so long as you don’t hurt anybody. This guy in my current situation is hurt, but I didn’t hurt him so I guess it’s okay to take advantage.
I found what I was looking for, and I was there for a pretty good long time, which is all I’m gonna say.
Except for the fact that while I was in there I started thinking about it and for the life of me I can’t remember why I even came here in the first place. I know that my buddy told me that either he had a job for me, or needed to borrow my truck, or I was supposed to bring something or somebody to him?
Holy shit. What am I doing here? Is this even the right place? I don’t remember being given an address at all, so however I ended up here is super mysterious right now, and I think that I should probably get out of here.
But first I should help the guy, I remember, now that most of my personal trouble is probably past.
But then on the way out, like a lightning bolt: ladder. I was supposed to come borrow a ladder. I remember seeing a ladder out front when I pulled in the driveway. So I go out there, and sure enough. So I load it up and come on back through the house. Why not grab the Willie Nelson while I’m here? I’m good for it, and this guy seems to have a lot of other tapes and CD’s and just a lot of stuff in general so he probably won’t miss it. So, into my pocket.
I was right about him getting sleepy, because when I get back out to the deck he’s got his eyes closed and seems pretty relaxed. He’s still holding his drink. Which, I don’t know how he held onto it all that time. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.
That’s pretty awesome, I say. The way you didn’t drop your drink.
He doesn’t say anything. Still mad from earlier probably.
Let’s get you out of that chair, I guess.