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Prompt • One Man’s Trash
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Write a short piece inspired by the prompt (about 600 words). Anything and everything is welcome—poems! fiction! non-fiction! lists! soliloquies!
Do what you feel, post it unedited.
Part I — Leading Up Tuesdays
Tuesday mornings the putrid black bags line the slim Brooklyn sidewalks, stuffing walkers to a single file row to pedestrianize on, creating a weekly-practiced ballet of shuffling feet as the occasional passer-by intrudes on the oncoming commuter’s space. Every Tuesday, every week, the city turns the mornings into an unbearable medieval town of refuge, kicking-off the day with a burn of the nostrils that grows into the awful hatred of neighbors. Every Tuesday, every week, the morning overflows with the unwanted.
As the elements circle back towards the forewarning early November chills, Robbie knows his time is shorter by the Tuesday. Soon, mid-December will freeze his bones, uncaring of the layers his weekly scavenging has produced, unapologetic to the weathered, sun-browned, Costa Rican skin that will ash, crack, and ache. The whiskers on his upper-lip build into a bristly broom’s head, creating a cheap, aluminum armor that only slightly keeps the cold and the stink from reaching his brain. But like the endless rotating winters, Robbie has performed this decoration ritual for over three decades, and he knows that if plans are met in time, he will regain his corner kingdom to brave the shivers and the sniffles like the proud conquerors he imagines his ancestors to be—like the proud conqueror he imagines himself to be.
At Robbie’s back stands his foundation: a corner store, owned by his friend Joseph. If it weren’t for the store’s soda fridge protruding halfway into the sidewalk—creating a right-cornered crevice for Robbie—he would have no place to hide away in and Joseph wouldn’t put up with a pseudo apartment addition to the backside of his store. The dark space is untouched by gentrification, an unpleasant dank corner to the 20-somethings, who avoid it as they walk to their already-late train towards the lively New York City. That is their place, this corner is Robbie’s.
Amassing thrown-out desk drawers, couch cushions, and varying unwanted household furniture, like a squirrel, Robbie builds his fortress for the winter. Carefully flattened Amazon boxes line the cold concrete—the traveled carpet baring the name of neighboring streets just inside the king’s purview. Reclaimed books stacked spine-to-spine become his throne, tattered flannels now lavish wallpaper. To round off his grand new digs, Robbie always leaves the wall to his left bare, showing off the spray-paint art on the abandoned storefront’s metallic draw-gate. The last slice to complete his masterpiece.
The reek coming off Robbie’s kingdom acts like a moat. “Roberto, buddy, how can you stand that smell?” asks Joseph tirelessly, year-after-year. With Robbie’s body and kingdom adorned with the unwanted, he worries not about smell, he keeps over his kingdom with honor. His gaze more clear than any other moment this year, his heavy head held higher than ever before. The new king dismisses the Rachels and the Trevors as they side-eye their reused refuge, but he does not forget about the rest of the Robbies in the neighborhood, who have assaulted and ransacked his kingdom before. As the king of his new home, he must protect what he has build, what he has conquered—he must rule over the unwanted.
Part II — Waning Tuesdays… Coming soon…
Thanks for reading.
— Nahuel F.A.