Archive for December, 2010

Been too long…

December 31, 2010 1 comment

A few years back, we sat in class and were given an
assignment to write a piece of prose that was of our choosing.
Tomorrow is my late grandpa’s birthday and I figured, there would
be no better way than to honor his memory by sharing a little part
of him with all of you. Rest in peace Poe…

Chainsaws and

“Why can’t I go see Poe? He
told me I could come over. I finished my homework, I cleaned my
room and besides, I think he needed help with something.” My
protests rapidly launch at my now-enemy, attempting to topple her
tough defenses. My mom throws an annoyed look my way and reaches
for the corded phone. “Yeah Dad, its Becky. I just walked in the
door and Dustin wants to go over there. He said something about
helping you? Yeah. Ummm, alright. Send him back by eight. Yeah, I
think I’ll have him clean the chimney with his toothbrush. Love you
too. Buh-bye.” A coy smile creeps its way across my mom’s face. She
turns to me, obviously tired and uncomfortably dressed in her work
garb that my brother and I would later describe in life as
receptionist nouveau. “Fine… you can go to your grandfather’s
house. Remember though, don’t touch anything you’re not supposed
to, don’t eat anything still moving, and if its wet and not yours,
don’t touch it.” My mom’s diktats I know are for my own good, but
what kind of self-respecting thirteen-year-old would I be if I went
to school on Monday and didn’t have a story centering in some small
part around sawing, nailing, torching or screwing something? Being
too cool to hug and kiss my mom, because after all, I’m wearing
Nikes now, I wrap my right arm around her midsection as my left
quickly reaches and snatches my hoodie off the chair. “Love ya Mom,
see you around ten!” My pace quickens as I throw open the screen
door. “I said eight Dustin!” “Right… ten. Love ya!” Propelling
myself off the front stoop, gravity takes hold and lands me smack
dab in the middle of the front yard. Without skipping a beat, my
butt is glued to my bike and in a gust, I’m off to Grandpa’s. The
best thing about living a half-mile away from your grandparents
reveals itself the minute something rightfully is not your fault. I
hadn’t meant to mow over the flowers and I soon realized that my
brother’s authentic Sergei Federov hockey jersey was not something
I should play tackle football in on a stormy day. Thank God Poe has
something for me to help him with and thankfully, Mom forgets. At
least I think she does. Gliding down the hill to my grandparent’s
house, I throw my right foot contortedly against the rear tire of
my brakeless BMX. My bike whips around like the rear of that chunky
lady whose moth ball smell fills the checkouts at the grocery
store. My journey comes to a close with a dark black, rubber streak
pointing towards my grandpa’s garage. I jump off my bike and rush
to lean it against the fence. Jogging to the door, some type of
surprise awaits. I turn the knob and press forward. “That was
quick. Nanny and I weren’t expecting you for another half-hour or
so. Hungry?” My head slowly confirms a no. “Alright, suit yourself.
While you’re standing there, hold this.” As he hands me a small
file, my grandpa retreats to his bench vice, slowly rotating a
chain blade around a circular piece of wood and grabs the file out
of my hand. “Gotta sharpen this blade before I forget. “ I stand
awkwardly at first, slowly shifting into a more comfortable
statuesque pose. “So what are we goin’ to do, Poe? Cut some boards…
fix that window… lay some bricks?” Being my grandfather’s helper
always proved to be a quick way to score twenty bucks, no matter
the size of the job. “First off, its brick. Drives me nuttier than
squirrel shit when people say ‘bricks’. I’m a bricklayer, not a
brickslayer.” My grandfather’s words sharpen, like the teeth on his
chain blade. “Well, now that we got that straight, I figur’d that
you and I could straight’n the garage. Got some many damn tools in
here, if I don’t trip over ‘em, I can’t find ‘em.” Like Samson and
his golden locks, I imagine that my grandpa’s tools represent the
last vestige of his manhood. Tools that hammer, screw, cut,
measure, straighten, scribe, point, and level find themselves
haphazardly strewn about on the work bench, some now even calling
the dirty concrete floor home. The only logical thing explaining
this happening is the nearby Sears building must have exploded
during the night and all its contents landing miraculously in my
grandpa’s garage. “Welp. Better get started. I only have you for
three hours before your mom kills me. Can’t ride your bike in the
dark.” A few seconds pass as I grab handfuls of delinquent
screwdrivers. My grandpa’s raspy voice disturbs the metallic
clanking of chisels and screwdrivers being placed on the workbench
as he looks towards me. “Hey, is Nanny coming? Hop up and peek out
the door. She should be in watching ‘The Wheel’ so she shouldn’t
bother us.” I stand up and slide across the floor to the door as my
grandpa pulls a small half-drank bottle of whiskey out from under
one of his shelved hard hats. Quickly uncapping it, he presses the
bottle to his lips and with a swift jerk, throws his head back.
“Poe… she’s coming!” I send up the alert just as my grandma walks
in the garage door. She wraps her arms around me tightly, silently
giving me the once-over to see how much I’ve grown since last time
she has seen me. “Hey sweetie. How are you? How’s school?” I shrug
my shoulders with indifference as my grandma’s innocent
interrogation quickly ends. Turning towards my grandpa, her voice
stiffens a bit. “Don’t stay out here all night George. We have to
go to church early tomorrow morning and talk to Father. He’s trying
to line people up to work the social.” Her soft, wrinkled hand pats
my shoulder as she turns and walks out of the garage and back into
the house. “Good. Now where were we?” We continue to clean, hang
and straighten the armies of tools lying in piles. My grandpa
shuffles around the work bench, snaking his path around various
saws and a pile of misplaced Christmas decorations to the wall
decorated by various sized shovels and picks. Each handle parallel
to one another, they hang ordered and anxious, awaiting the next
opportunity to make their user proud with their effectiveness. He
moves down to my end of the bench, the half-drank bottle in his
hand, the cap slightly ajar. “Well finish up with those
screwdrivers and we’ll call it a day. ‘Sides, the sun is going down
and you have to get back home ‘therwise your mom is gonna kill me.”
He throws back another mouth-sized shot and stands quietly for a
second. His eyes fixed on the door, he looks down at me and motions
for me to take a drink. Apprehensive at first, I sheepishly take
the bottle from his hand. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep look out for
Nanny.” He gives me a little wink and moves towards the door. I
slowly raise the bottle to my lips, trying to catch a whiff with my
nose and take a drink. My throat instantly catches fire as I cough
deeply, trying unsuccessfully to squelch the lava inching its way
down my throat. My eyes begin to water as my grandpa moves towards
me. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small wrapped piece
of candy. Proudly looking at me, he begins, “Go on and chew it. Old
Marine trick. Chewin’ bubblegum hides the smell and they can’t tell
you’ve been drinkin’.” I grab the gum from his hand and unwrap it,
quickly flicking the soft piece into my mouth. My throat still
burns a little from the drink but the sugary juices of the
bubblegum helps remove a small part of the sting. My grandma
reappears as Poe’s back faces the door. She projects obvious
annoyance towards him. “George, when are you coming in? Dustin
has to get going. Becky just called and she
wants to know where he is.” She walks back into the house, the
front door producing a sharp thud behind her. Frustrated, my
grandpa turns to me. He puts his hand on my shoulder and points a
straight line from his index finger to the center point between my
eyes. “I hope this teaches you somethin’.” His finger slowly wags
up and down. “You might not get everything you want in this entire
world – money, cloths, women, and cars – but ev’ry man should at
least have a garage.”

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