Happy Halloween, Little Girl

Happy Halloween

Don BeeKeeper - a history of scissors

I used to dress up for Halloween. Not anymore. Once you turn 12, I think it’s time to stop. That’s when I stopped, anyway.

They always made a big deal of it, though. Or so it seemed to me. They would build up my anticipation for weeks. I was supposed to make my own costume, too. They’d ask every day in October what I was making. But I never knew what I was supposed to make. Then there would be suggestions and I didn’t like any of those.

Last year, maybe out of habit, she asked “What’s your costume this year?”

I said, “I was gonna put a grocery bag over my head with some rope around my neck, drop my pants, be a rape victim.”

I can’t remember a single year I didn’t just wear a costume bought last minute at the drug store.

I want a cat. My…

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Happy Halloween, Little Girl

I used to dress up for Halloween. Not anymore. Once you turn 12, I think it’s time to stop. That’s when I stopped, anyway.

They always made a big deal of it, though. Or so it seemed to me. They would build up my anticipation for weeks. I was supposed to make my own costume, too. They’d ask every day in October what I was making. But I never knew what I was supposed to make. Then there would be suggestions and I didn’t like any of those.

Last year, maybe out of habit, she asked “What’s your costume this year?”

I said, “I was gonna put a grocery bag over my head with some rope around my neck, drop my pants, be a rape victim.”

I can’t remember a single year I didn’t just wear a costume bought last minute at the drug store.

I want a cat. My room is too empty and I want something to keep me company. Maybe I should get a boyfriend.

That’s a good costume this year. I’ll go as a pretty girl.

“You need to clean this room,” she says. She’s leaning in the doorway, Her hair is a mess. It looks like she got confused and used a mixer to dry her hair.

“Can I have a cat?”

“What? Why? No. Listen. I want you to hand out candy tonight.”

“What? Why? Uh, no!”

“You’re doing it.” She’s gone.

Downstairs, I discover the box which is supposed to contain garbage bags is empty, so I dutifully write that item on the fridge list. “Get garbage bags.” I write it below “Get paper towels.”

How am I to clean my room with no garbage bag? It’s a mystery I will solve while watching television.

There’s a loud noise from somewhere. Banging. I turn up the volume to drown it out.

“Can you turn that down?”

“What?”

There’s more banging.

Georgie walks in wearing something he’s made. “What are you supposed to be?” I think he’s a robot. There’s so much tin foil, he’s hard to look at.

“I’m a nail.”

I can’t see his arms. “Where are your arms?”

“Nails don’t have arms.”

“Your arms are in the costume? “

His arms suddenly appear. They’re encased in cardboard and tin foil. “Your head looks ridiculous.”

He ignores me and walks out the door.

“Is your brother gone? I wanted to give him a flashlight.”

I don’t think anyone will have any trouble seeing him.

I really really want something to do. Something I will enjoy. Something that might make me feel like something. I’m melting into the fabric of the couch.

There’s more banging. “What are you doing?”

“Answer the door!”

I pick up the bowl and open the door. On the porch are three bored-looking plastic wrapped things holding pillow cases. I wait a few seconds but they don’t move or say anything, so I give out the candy. I hear them mutter “Thank-you” as they leave.

I take a look out in the street. It looks like the zombies really have come out. This seems to be the most unenjoyable night of the year. They’re all moving so slowly.

I go back to the couch. As soon as my ass has found its niche, there’s more banging. More bubble-wrapped vegetables at the door, picking noses and mumbling inaudibly, no one smiles. Once again, as soon as I sit, more arrive. I think they must wait, watching me through the window. But no – there’s a sudden flurry of them and I am handing out candy constantly for almost 10 minutes. Then suddenly the street is empty.

I peek out through the curtains and see no one. I sit down again and start watching something about some people trying to buy something that doesn’t matter to anyone from some other guy who is pretending it’s important when it clearly isn’t and I know I won’t remember a bit of this tomorrow. I start to wonder why I’m even alive but then the doorbell rings.

“Trick or treat!”

She’s almost as tall as me and much more energetic. I immediately recognize her behind the feathered facemask and glittery cape. “Aren’t you a little old?”

“How can anyone be too old for Halloween?” She held out her bag to receive my gumballs.

“Do you even eat candy?”

“Sure!” She hopped down the stairs and trotted down the path. “See ya! Thanks!”

I stand in the open doorway and watch her go to the houses across the street. I can’t understand people.

“You can leave the bowl on the step. There won’t be many now.”

Why am I still here?

“Close the door. It’s cold.”

She has a garbage bag in her hand. Her hair is still a mess. I think her shirt is older than me. I take a handful of lollipops and Tootsie rolls from the bowl and drop it into the open garbage bag. “Happy Halloween, little girl.”

End of the Day

There’s always some satisfaction to the end of a long day. I mean a day when you’ve worked hard and everything you needed to get done got done. You can feel you’ve accomplished something, even if no one else will ever have any idea about any of it.

Framing walls. I go into a building and frame all the interior walls in one day, it ends up no one sees any of it after the board goes up.

I don’t care. I take my shit and go. I stumble over large stones and bits of wood in what will be the front yard and make my way to my Chevette. It’s an uphill climb.

I still have a sandwich so I get that out as I sit in the front seat of the car and stare out the window. New houses are across the field, and lights shine from the windows. No one has enough sense to get curtains. Or maybe they just don’t have the money.

The meat of the sandwich feels warm in my mouth. Now that’s an uninviting sensation. Warm processed meat – not beef or chicken but something – in slightly soggy bread. The lettuce has lost its luster and become something more like a kleenex.

In the windows across from me, people sometimes bob to the surface. The house directly before me has a set of glass sliding patio doors that lead out into the gravel and mud of the back yard. The room behind is well lit and empty of all furniture. I try to remember being there but I can only remember the place I just left. So much for my sense of satisfaction at a job well done. I can’t see the bones within the skin of the new house, even if I put them there. But then maybe it wasn’t my job.

Two old women walk into view and sit opposite one another on the floor. It seems to be a difficult thing for them to do. They’re not at all young, the years are busy dripping off them and racing across the horizon. They reach across to each other and hold hands.

They don’t seem to have anything on, I note. I take a bite of my sandwich and once again notice that it tastes a bit like a used washcloth. I fumble around for a can of coke I know is hiding in the bag somewhere.

The old women are not moving. I can’t see if they’re talking.

I briefly picture myself in 40 years, hunched over and sagging with age. I imagine then I will feel every nail I’ve hit, every knock I’ve taken, every bone I’ve broken. I find myself flexing my right hand. I can always feel the hammer in my right hand, now, except at the end of a long weekend or after a week of no work.

So I’m 40 years older then now and I have probably no hair and no strength left. I know there’s something in between now and then but I can’t picture it. Frankly, I can only imagine my balls turning into pebbles and sagging to my knees. I doubt that happens, though.

The old women seem to have started rubbing each other. I feel a bit uneasy watching this peculiar exhibition. They’ve reached their unusually long spindly arms out to each other. They lean into each other a bit. I want to leave but I need to know what they’re doing.

I’ve met older guys who still work. Some of them are tough as nails and you can’t picture them resting, let alone broken down old and helpless. I only ever picture myself completely impotent and useless. My limbs will be limp. I’ll be resting. You’ll find me in the chair, I’m sure. I’ll be watching tv. No fucking way am I working at this past 65. I can feel it’s not in me. And I won’t be one of those grinning idiots who putters around cleaning up, waiting to step in a hole or crack my skull on scaffold brace.

The sandwich is just completely disgusting and the coke does nothing to help wash the taste out of my mouth. The old women have sloughed into some kind of embrace and look like a tarp someone’s balled up and tossed in the middle of the room. I find my cigarettes in my pocket and push in the lighter on the car. I turn the key to make it work and the radio turns on. I’m pretty sure Conway Twitty is an asshole.

The window is open and the air is starting to cool.

I light my cigarette, start the car, and drive home.

The Tower of Solomon

They built it in the morning. I watched the eagles scale the heights above and swirl around in their broad descent, entranced as I by their glistening monument.

My king strode forward with his sons behind. From his right hand, his cane barely touched the ground.

Listen now, he decreed, and the birds were still. I have sworn a pledge to our God. We shall move forward with this. None shall stop us. None shall stop us or none shall live.

I count the money that passes through. It’s my job. I hold the coins for the lord.

No bad temper shall change the weather. No bad man will break our souls.

I count the money. I preserve the lord.

They built it in the morning but by evening it had vanished. The eagles soar no more. Our monument is more a whisper than a shout. Our prayer is more a wink that a song.

My king is dead. His sons fell behind him. We bury those so deep in our memories that none shall escape.

So listen, I decree. I count the money. I alone shall be the monument and the eagles shall fly for me. None shall thrive.

We never spoke in rhyme

it starts with a twist
and then it flies

I kept the bugs in
plastic margarine containers

And daddy at the laundromat
sat with his knees propping
a musty Popular Mechanics
while the clothes went round

It takes a long time to chip away the stone
my feature will only come forth in the earth

it starts with a twist
and then it falls

My hands were small
for the work they did

We never moved in parallel lines
or swooping arcs that intertwined
We never made the bluebirds sing
we never spoke in rhyme

One Man Show

“I’m thinking about a one-man show. A stage performance. Is that what they call that? A one-man show?”

She shrugged and kept folding laundry. I sat on the bed. “I want the stage all black, and I’ll have a wooden chair set up in the middle. There will be some Vivaldi or something playing very faintly.”

“Did you get the winter tires put on the car?”

“Um, what? Oh.”

“Can you do that this weekend?”

“Sure.” I picked one of my shirts and folded it. I put it on the pile she was making next to me.

“Shit,” she said and put her fingers to her eyes. “Alice has to go to a birthday party on Saturday. What can we get for a seven-year-old boy?”

“How about a gun?” I grinned. She snorted. “That’s a very attractive sound.”

“Kids don’t get toy guns anymore.”

“I meant a real gun.”

She snorted again. “You have the most attractive laugh,” I said.

“Fuck you, dogbreath.”

“Huh.”

“You’ll have to take her. The invitation with the address is on the fridge.”

“Ok.” I picked up a pair of her underwear and very neatly tied it in a knot. “I’ll get a pack of smokes and a bottle of whiskey for the lad and put it in a paper bag.”

“Just get Lego or something.”

“Where will you be?”

She looked at me. “I have to take Mom to see Dad. I already told you.”

“I guess I wasn’t listening.” I found a hole in one of my socks and ripped it wide. “These suck.”

“I know. They don’t last.”

I walked to the bathroom and tossed the sock in the garbage. I briefly looked at myself in the mirror. “I need a hair cut.”

“Why don’t you throw the other one out?” she said. A sock flew into the room and hit the wall. It fell straight to the floor like a bird that’s flown into a window.

“I never finished what I was saying, you know.”

“You were saying something?”

I put my hand in the sock and made a puppet. I walked behind her and the puppet started biting her ear. She swat at me and laughed. “Hmph,” said the puppet and fell to the floor.

“About my one man stage show.” I walked around to the other side of the bed. “I want the stage all black, and I want a white wooden chair in the middle of it. Some Saint-Saëns playing –“

“You said Vivaldi. Who is Sansee-Ens?”

“The music just needs to be somewhat familiar and not very exciting. I want the stage lights to rise and show the empty chair in the middle. It’s deserted. The music plays and plays. I have to figure it out, but it should stay that way until the audience gets disturbed by it – restless and eager for something to happen. Maybe 15 minutes.”

“I’d leave.”

“I know. Anyway, after fifteen minutes, I will walk out of the background. I will be dressed all in black. I will have been there the entire time.”

“Creepy.” She folded the last and looked over at me.

“Then, when I know they all see me, I will sit in the chair, point out at the audience and yell ‘You are all wrong!’”