by Howie Good
My nap is interrupted by the bang-bang-bang of hammering. I’m like “Oh shit.” Over-muscled debt collectors must be nailing my neighbor to the floor. Now he won’t leave his apartment for days. Not even for 10 minutes to go to the store for cigarettes and lotto tickets. Well, that’s typical post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms there, buddy. We’ve been living in a very unusual world. When I look out the window, Jesus is a squeegee man squirting some crap from a bottle onto a car windshield. And if I really concentrate, I can just about see the location of the latest teen suicide cluster. City officials have vowed that next time they won’t be caught short of coffins.
All things are photographable. Two days ago it was a ruined farmer walking slowly over a country bridge, as if looking for a place to jump. Yesterday it was a man washing a car. Today it was a woman arranging a light-up plastic Jesus in a front yard. Meanwhile, the few children ever visible in this broken part of the world seemed even fewer than usual. Does that surprise you? The only explanation I heard I heard at the barbershop. It was that the Titanic sailed at dawn.
A girl was stuck in the rubble, only her head visible. She was staring straight at us, and I think that’s why every month is a kind of choking, a confused wind of travels. I have taken part for a while now in cultural appropriation, unconscious plagiarism, maybe even in a bit of banditry, walking around on my hands and knees and finding rocks and sticks. Stay far away from the area. The area is not safe. Stay away. People are crying, shoving, tripping, trying to leave, scrambling everywhere. It’s like they all know those diary locks don’t actually work.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize. His latest collection is I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books. He co-edits the journals UnLost and Unbroken with Dale Wisely.