Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Plumber is Watching

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."

~ Franz Kafka

The first time I see him, he’s leaning against his work van, watching me intently.  I'm taking out the trash, doing my best to ignore him. He starts to whistle some dumb tune as a way to get my attention. I just want to take out the fucking trash. I don't want an audience. His whistle gets increasingly louder.

Do you think I’m a dog? Do you think if you keep whistling, I’ll jump up on your lap and lick your face? I’m not paying attention to you for a reason, moron.

The second time I see him, I'm putting mail in the mailbox, several hours later. He is sitting in his van, with a sloppy sandwich in his hand, biting into it like an animal. The window of his van is open.

He makes this grunting sound, as he chews and watches me, as if it’s me he’d like to eat me for lunch. As if, by eating the sandwich, he can almost taste me. He makes me ill.

"I think the mailman already came by," he shouts, his mouth half full of food.

Why? Why does he have to be here again? The only two times I've left the house today and I have to deal with a slimy plumber boring holes through me? Why do I leave the house at all?

Again, I ignore him. Because I know the mailman didn't come by. I know the sounds of my mailman. I know the shuffling of his feet on the sidewalk, the slamming of my mailbox--the dull sounds that make up my daily existence.

At the rate my luck is going, I know I will see him one more time. It's Tuesday and I’m in charge of the local writing group at the library today.

I dress up for class a little. Present myself. It's important. To polish yourself up and look your best…okay, good enough. I look in the mirror and realize, in a detached way, that I do look pretty today. A good feeling sweeps over me. I put on my coat and walk out the door.

He's not there, the loathsome man. His van is still there but he's not there. Good. If he sees me, he'll only harass me more. His aggressive libido has obviously trumped the importance of my privacy.

I run to the car and start it up. Shit. I forgot my notebook. I run in the house and grab it. When I walk outside he is there, next to his van, staring at me yet again.  A bomb starts ticking. My passivity, my muteness, is quickly turning into white-hot rage.

He starts waving his fat arms wildly at me. His previous attempts to get my attention haven't been rewarded so he's resorted to this ridiculous gesture. I start to climb in my car but then stop in my tracks.

“What the fuck is your problem?” My voice sounds deep and dark, like it climbed out of the depths of my bowels.

“I’m just trying to say hello.”

“And I’m obviously trying not to.”

“Well, that’s not very nice,” he laughs.

“Yeah, well its not very nice being fucking harassed on my own fucking property.”

“Harassed? Ha!”

“Yeah, its real funny, isn’t it?”

“Just trying to be friendly.” He throws the cigarette on the grass and stomps it out.

I’m shaking. And not finished.

“No you weren’t. You weren’t trying to be friendly. Don’t fool yourself.”

“You got a problem. You got a real problem, lady,” he laughs dismissively and walks away.

I want to show him my problem. I want to show him my real problem. Because mere words don’t do my problem justice. My problem could wrap around his fat neck and squeeze so tightly, his veins would pop. My problem could grab the last greasy few strands of hair on his sweaty head and slam him into the side of his van. My problem could be the last thing he ever sees.

Instead I'm left standing there, rage all over my nice outfit. I hear him whistling inside the house. Immobilized, I watch the mailman as he pulls up and takes the mail. 

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