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.