Saturday, August 02, 2008

Micro Story

He Will Sleep Tonight

The parking lot is on fire. Not literally, of course, but it certainly feels that way. It is the dead middle of the summer and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky for so long, people have almost forgotten that clouds ever existed in the first place. The sun feels closer, somehow...invading the Earth's personal, planetary space with a big bear hug.

He begins to sweat immediately upon exiting his car. He should have come earlier, he thinks to himself. He wouldn't have had to park so far back. Such a hike to the entrance. And, fuck, the lines... this time of day, the lines are going to be otherworldly. Then there's the traffic getting back, and he should probably eat something... the furnace needs fuel, as his father used to say... fuck fuck fuck, this is going to set his whole day back at least a couple of hours. He had this planned down to the minute and, now... thanks to her, always thanks to HER... he was going to be late. Fuck.

At long last, he enters the building. Inside, it is cool. Industrial air conditioners at full blast, filling up the large space with comfortable air. God, he could lay down right here on the floor and take a nap. No blanket, no pillow, just his head on the concrete and this sweet fucking cold, cold air all around him like a fast-flowing river. He is so tired. Too hot to sleep... hasn't slept for a month now, maybe longer. And of course, she's always next to him. Radiating heat through the bed like a brick from an old pioneer's oven. She tosses and turns, she doesn't sleep either, and they just lay there... miserable... sweaty and sticky and smothered... hating the heat and hating each other for making it worse, their own biology rising up against them in anger. Their bed at night glows red like lava, like a barbecue grill, like Hell.

He yanks a shopping cart out of the shiny metal tangle by the front door and joins the swirling, blank mob. The place smells like sawdust. One out of every three customers is a rough-faced, dirty man with overall pockets full of pencils and small rulers and nails and little gadgets and gizmos that could do any number of things. They look grim and determined, knowing soon that they will be back outside; this relief is short and cruel. They reek of sweat, he thinks to himself, but then again... after that trek from the parking lot's back forty... he probably does too.

Slowly, he makes his way through aisles. Putting the things he needs in his cart. One by one. Going down the checklist. Making sure to forget nothing. He will need it all.

The line stretches to the moon. He will be off schedule now, but he takes deep breaths... calming breaths, like the doctor told him to... and makes himself realize... makes himself KNOW that that is okay. Being off schedule is perfectly fine. No reason to panic. Besides, it's so nice in here. And it's so hot out there. So motherfucking cocksucking hot. She's radiating her heat right now, he thinks. Just exuding her heat all through their house... HIS house, dammit, because he paid for it after all. That counts for SOMETHING. And she's melting it with her heat. Her flames are licking the walls and soon it will be a pile of ash and it will be all HER fault all her fucking-

"Thank you for shopping at Tool Barn. May I ring you up?"

He nods. Smiles. Casual. Just fine, ma'am, everything is just so fucking fine. She scans his items, going down his checklist for him one more time. Conscientious. What a good employee, he thinks. He might shop here again, if the service is this thoughtful. He bets that she doesn't radiate heat.

"Garbage bags, tarp... sorry, TWO tarps... work gloves, ball peen hammer, hand saw, extra blades for the hand saw... that's like such a good idea, sir, these things always break, like totally, people always complaining... bag of lye, safety goggles... is that all, sir?"

No, he has one more item. He lifts it up, presents it to her like a gift. It is ice fucking cold in his hand.

"And one axe. Whew... sounds like you got a big job to do today."

He does. He smiles. It's going to be a lot of work. But that is okay. He isn't afraid of a little hard work. And besides, when the hard work is through, he will sleep tonight in a bed no longer consumed by flames. Oh yes. Oh fucking yes.

He will sleep tonight.


Anonymous J. said...


10:55 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

holy. fucking. balls.

Man, you nailed this one 100%. I love it!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Lioux said...

I had no idea you could make an air conditioner out of garbage bags, two tarps, work gloves, ball peen hammer, hand saw, extra blades for the hand saw, a bag of lye, safety goggles and an axe.

You should consider writing for MacGyver®™©™.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

creepy. so in other words ... good!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous girlfriend said...

This is my favorite micro-story yet! So creepy... creepy and good, like Twinkies.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, what girlfriend said. Best piece of the three or four I've read so far. Is it all in his head? Or is it really a hot F***ing day? Who knows? Ambiguity always entertains...keep 'em guessing, I say.

Back to my reference schematics,

9:55 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

that was an awesome micro read.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

J... No, YOU'RE nice.

Todd... Why thank you. I also nailed your mom.

Lioux... They won't let me write for them because of my little "heroin" problem. I tried to tell them that it helps me be creative, but then I nodded off and crapped my pants.

SKCity... Thanks! "Creepy, but good" is also how you could describe all my first dates, pre-Girlfriend.

Girlfriend... Are you trying to tell me that you want me to buy you Twinkies?

Sonny... I am a man of mystery. Or one that doesn't really plan stuff out before he writes it. Either or.

Jason... Why thank you, my cartoon-headed friend. I hope the next one isn't a total disappointment to everyone and leads to me dying alone behind a trash can in an alley downtown.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Giggleloop said...

Pretty fucking awesome, C-dog. :)

9:03 AM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

Wow, Todd showed me this story and it's really good!!! You're a fantastic writer. Can't wait to read more.

11:42 AM  

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