It surprised no one when Bruce Feathers once again launched a torpedo into his own life. Ten years ago, the semi-retired auto mechanic earned a ticket to the slammer for diddling the brake lines on Nathan Polk’s pickup truck. Bruce insisted the disconnection was accidental, but everyone knew that Nathan, a semi-retired insurance agent, had been topping off Bruce’s future ex-wife’s fluids, so to speak.
When I heard the front door close I dashed to the window. From behind the lace curtain I watched Lilly-Anne skip down the steps onto the street. Palpitations fluttered in my chest, my arrhythmia raced like a motor-cross Kawasaki skidding sideways across sand. She walked along the street in black low-heeled shoes, light blue stockings and her coat flapped with each step exposing her knees, her handbag hung over a shoulder. Those lips glistened with gloss; no colour, such a pale face. She looked ill. I groaned, perhaps her boss will give her the day off; I wished. She made her way along the road out of my view.
I sat down and began my breathing mantra; in for five seconds and out for five until I calmed myself sufficiently to let the pulsating surge in my groin subside. My hands no longer shook and I could pick up my coffee.
They had teased about it often, but Sophia chickened out. Alone, I stand on a dirt road that hasn’t seen traffic for miles. I curse myself for not sticking around long enough to learn how to drive.
Teaching isn’t easy. Certainly not in Jersey City. I might as well say it at the start, I hate it. It’s hard to be among the young.
I met a man named Frank today. He knows how to throw his voice. He said he learned it from his dad. Fun!
The Box arrives on his fiftieth birthday.
It is sitting on the desk in his office, wrapped in shiny black paper, adorned with a scarlet bow. It is square, the kind of box that might contain a paperweight, or a large book, or a box of chocolates.
Really, it could be anything.
Well, I’ll tell it to you straight, my life has gone to poop. Here’s how I ruined it: