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|  THE MAN WITH THE SKELETON BELT BUCKLE

 
  1.
Jesus fucking Christ. I've got to do everything
around here. No fucking way.
They can go piss up a rope.
He flicks his cigarette into a small shower
of sparks as it hits the concrete floor.
Puts his left foot up onto the dash
of the fork lift, by the steering wheel.
Fumbles through the pack
for another cigarette, and works
the high flame of the lighter
toward the tip, his hand shaking.
That job'll tear the fuckin spine right out'o'me!
He didn't give a fuck. They could fire him
for all he cared. But he wasn't hauling
boxes out of that trailer by hand.
No way. Christ this is a righteous bitch.
No wonder everyone's looking for other jobs.
This place is a fucking fiasco.



2.
And to think what it could have been like.
Still with a job at the car plant.
Two cars at home. A bought one,
and building the other one.
Engines torn apart on the garage floor.
A full range of the best tools.
Always a fresh case of beer beside him,
buddies coming over to help on the weekends.
Good-looking wife, always trim,
good in bed. Kids helping dad,
cooking up mischief. Nice little house
with a pool and barbeque.
A lawn to mow.


3.
Now where the fuck did that go?
There was still the case of beer.
And sometimes he was in no condition
to work, but he made it in anyway,
sleeping on the fork lift
when no one needed anything too pressing.
Needed a lift to work every day. No license.
Yeah I should get the Harley fixed up.
Bike in to work. When I get me some time.



4.
That was the life back then, pocketing tools
from the plant. Everyone did it.
They even had stats out: so many millions
per year lost on tools. Some guys
would leave with hockey bags.
His buddies and he would get together
after work and drink straight
to the next shift, close enough to work
to walk back. Didn't really remember
much about that, but he knew he did it.
His wife would tell him. Until somewhere
in there, not really sure when,
she left. Just took the kids.
Gone.

5.
Christ that really fucked me up.
Didn't show up to work.
Went on a fuckin bender,
just like a fuckin big black hole.
Woke up in the hospital, stitched
up and down, looking like
some fuckin train yard.
My knee and shoulder
popped out of place. Still feel it
after twelve years, 'specially when
the weather turns. Thought I was in there
for a day, they told me it was
for a fuckin month. Christ, I'd hit
eleven parked cars.
Probably howling sweet Jesus,
laughing my guts out
til I hit the twelfth, which wasn't parked.
Laws were a bit different back then,
so I guess I got off pretty easy.
Except of course for losing
just about everything, and
stuck forever at this stinkin hell hole job.
I really felt bad for the first couple of years.
Nightmares and shit. I'd be in fuckin tears.
'specially for the little one.
But now I can pass the cemetery
and not even shake anymore.


from The Wind is a Tall Man Striding
watershedBooks
2000
Copyright © Jim Slominski