Back home, the lone lamp is on. A timer, a purpose. YouTube: “install garbage dispoesl” at 1.25x playback speed. As it buffers, I look outside the kitchen window. The twilight slashes through tree trunks in the backyard. A mole crawls out of a hole. It has a cloud on its face, its body ablaze with the sunset. It’s staring at me, I think. It’s smaller than a bread-fattened squirrel. It’s the first time I’ve seen one in person. Small, wild, unencumbered. I tell Siri to remind me to get a bag of soil. I set the disposal on the yellowed Formica. I decide to lay on my heart bridge, at least that’s what my yoga friend told me. My spine decompresses, a tingly sensation and then a warm one and then all is right in the world. My eyes affix to a darkened ceiling tile. It gazes back with its auburn eye. Why have drugs when you can work your spine? My phone vibrates inside my jeans. I made a rule in the old apartment not to answer the phone during exercise time, but this was a new house, my house. I make a new rule, pull the phone out. “Dad middle-finger emoji.” New rule is terrible already.
I rise, my back reluctant to resume stasis. I want more time for pushups and planks. Ceasing the pandemonium, I tap Answer. “Hello father,” I say. A crackle, then he says, “Yo.” “What do you want?” I speak. “Just wanted to see how’re you’re—” He pauses. “Adjusting.” “Everything is fine,” I lie. “I probably know a thing or two about that ol’ shack, he adds.” “That’s nice,” I say. “City Slicker out in the wild,” he says, chuckles. The second time hearing that term. Now who’s the meme? I look through the hazy window. It gives the darkening woods an opaque, haunting look. I wonder if he’s outside. It wouldn’t be impossible. He said it himself. He may know a thing or two. “Still there?” he speaks. “Yeah, yeah I’m good,” I say. “Alright, uh, freace out,” he says. I hang up before him, still let him get the last word. I look at myself in the mirror, the roundedness in my upper back, the pouch on my abdomen. Freace out, huh? Haven’t heard that phrase in years. I thought it died when Mom did. So, I do something on which I wasn’t planning. In my top dresser drawer, sits my clippers. It’s not time to do a full body shave, but change is needed. Right now. I pop in the 3mm guide, shave my luscious hair. A part of my immediate past dies in the mirror. The bathroom sink fills with black locks. I look at the scar on my cranium. Two inches behind my left ear. It’s barely visible now. I dare not go any further.
I woke up early to install the garbage disposal. Didn’t need his damn help, yet my head is cold. The beanie stuffed in my coat pocket finally had a full-time gig. I may be a city slicker, but I also have an M.S. What can’t I do? When I pry open the brittle shell of a box, the instructions smeared by ancient water. Guess I will need YouTube. The video buffers again. I get hungry and heat a ramen breakfast. A sturdy, metal stove with flaking paint chips. I watch the doe-eyed man with a combover. Hands smoother than a baby’s ass. I woke up the antithesis of this guy, yet here I am. The pot bubbles over. It is 6:17 AM. Time to spite my dad, the world. My fingers turn off the heat, twisting backward, feeling tension. Wasn’t a great fit, but hours later, I did it. I run the tap and let it fill. There is an orange on the counter, stricken with mold. I pull it apart, caress mold spores. The blades whir like demons, thank me for the offering. It’s as if my grandad was waiting for this moment. I get that weird urge to shove my hand in. Think they call that l’appel du vide.