Though I’ve enjoyed the freedom, I’ve missed the early morning wake up call in my inbox where the Word of the Day challenge awaited. I’ve forgotten the playful tease that comes in a real stinker of a word, felt lonely for the thrill in wrestling a word into submission, and longed for the surprise when a word lends itself to a poem.
Nobody said re-entry would be pretty.
Somebody Needs Attention
Rebecca held the curtain open with the back of her hand. The sunrise colored the sky with a fiery orange and shed light on the fact that nothing had changed. Bags of garbage still lined the sidewalks; they festered, split, and spilled out onto the street.
Mrs. Owen, from across the street, ate a lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken it seemed, and Bobby Cooper, at the end of the block, must not have any real dishes. Paper plates and red plastic cups littered his stretch of lawn. Rebecca’s next door neighbor, Stan, had tried to keep things neat by piling his garbage into a well-formed mountain, but one of the bags had rolled off and exploded onto Rebecca’s driveway. A shadow moved across the concrete and slipped behind the trash — a rat.
It had only been three weeks since the Waste Management workers first refused to fire up their trucks and clear the neighborhood, but already they made national headlines. Workers weren’t allowed to collect any trash, but the mayor insisted they had hauled somebody’s garbage and dropped it on the front steps of his house. The mayor’s front door was blocked, he said, and he was being held hostage by refuse. Still, he didn’t budge on concessions. It was like the New York City garbage strike on a small town scale.
Rebecca turned on the news, which showed two police officers outside the mayor’s house wearing face masks. Then, the news cut to the mayor, who sat inside and conducted a news conference using his son’s videocam. He drank his coffee and bragged that, with the internet, he could run the city from the comfort of his own kitchen. “Bring it on,” he told the camera, meaning more garbage Rebecca guessed.
The mayor reminded Rebecca of Vince Watters in high school. Vince played the clarinet, he wore high-waisted jeans from Walmart, and he got pushed around during lunch. Vince landed in detention one week, for fighting back, and got chummy with Darrin and Hendricks, two beefy outcasts who happened to be seniors. Vince marched into the lunchroom that Friday, with Darrin and Hendricks at his side, pointing fingers at the jocks who shoved him around and yelling “Yeah! Bring it on, dickheads!”
If memory served Rebecca right, the mayor played clarinet at his inauguration that year, and, like Vince, he puffed his chest when he was flanked by guards.
Once during the broadcast, the cameras fell onto the mayor’s wife as she wiped off the counter and poured him another cup of coffee. She cleared his breakfast plate and dumped the leftovers into the trash can, which seemed mostly empty. Her shoulders sagged and her expression was flat when she turned back around, but Rebecca thought she saw a hint of disgust in her eyes.
The mayor, however, beamed.
For fun, click on over to this video from They Might Be Giants, called “I’m All You Can Think About.” The song plays just at the beginning, and is well worth the click.