Jim Meirose

#35 – Field Work 6
(chapter 35 of No and Maybe – Maybe and No – out from Pski’s Porch)

               Yes, yes. It is a fine day. But, why is that of any importance?
               —that is what I will say to him if he says something inane like that. Says something inane like that meaning I am supposed to forget completely the embarrassment he has caused me—
               Or maybe he does not even know. Yes it’s entirely possible no actually very certainly probably so that he does not even know I got called in by the Captain. Get that. Called in! By the Captain! And, what’s worse—in front of the whole of his upper gallery. Dear God, do you know how long it takes to get back in the good graces of the people that matter ‘round this rathole of a village once something like what I’d been called in for is seen by the whole of his upper gallery—and on big spouse celebration day, to boot! I mean my very favorite springtime jollyday was totally flattened down and crushed away all spoiled.
               So we wise still parked in that state of whippy whappy stormy chaos—half-faded for sure but not all the way gone but really, yes really. Really yes and really so, but nonetheless truly all truly, yes—even so the assigned job of work must go on.
               Actually, you have to help me. This signboard’s too heavy. It’s seven feet across. It’s like—here’s where it’s not a one man job entirely. So here. Roll up your sleeves.
               No. It is mine to watch only. If I help it will invalidate the entire observation I’m here to make. It’s bad enough we’ve been chatting away. Here’s where I got to draw the line.
               The workman turned his face toward a lone fading contrail being absorbed to nothing by the seemingly alive bright blue sky. He pushed his fists into his hips, and leveled his gaze to the watcher, saying stonily, Then I need to stop here. It is impossible for me to go on. Let me gather my tools and let’s go.
               The watcher forced his face to remain emotionless but his eyes betrayed him as he said No, no. It’s not impossible. Here—listen to me—
               What listen to you! I only will listen if say you will help me!
               No, said the watcher, waving a hand—here’s what you do. Pull the posts out onto the grass. Lay the signboard down on the posts as the instructions command and screw it down tight. Then get in the middle and lift the whole sigh and tilt it back and let the posts slide into the holes and there you go!
               I am sorry but that is not the order I was instructed to do this in.
               What difference does it make if the end result is the same?
               It will make a difference inside of me. I will feel different. It felt good to be following the orders precisely and without critical thought. It felt good to be free of the thoughts others might have about wasting the gold leaf on this job. Or of working so hard to sheath the lower lengths of the posts with lead. Or of carving precision dovetail joints for the corners of the signframe—
               Wait, hold—you did express some criticism of the need to use dovetailing—
               Yes, but—I went ahead and did it. I am human. Humans say things and feel things and vent internal pressures of all kinds being the complicated high performance intelligent breed of machines that we are, but—the important thing is that boring through that cloud of noisy bullshit and hitting the target assigned by authority is something that humans are good at. It got done with the dovetailing. And then the neat bunding of the signboard edges. I did not grouse about that at all. But now what I am being asked to do is impossible. So, maybe that is the lesson I have learned from this eh? Maybe this whole thing though it is ending on this ugly note was always intended to end this way. Maybe I am being taught to not be rigid. Maybe I am being taught that to do exactly as told by authority at all times is a mistake. Maybe I am being told that when tight spots are encountered I must think for myself and push through on my own. Maybe I am being told that the end is what matters. Maybe I am being told that in some situation being obedient can be fatal. You can be right—and the dead right. You know that guy? This has all been fatal I believe. Everything I was hoping for well, now, can never be! God help me oh Lord this is a black hour God help me oh Lord I am worthless take me home—Lord I give up take me take me home right now please God I have had enough you win you do, you win—
               But wait what is this?
               I am helping you I’m holding the damned thing up okay? Shut up and screw it to the posts before I bust a nut!
               Huh? No—why—
               Hey okay—okay you melted my heart ok? Take that for a why—just screw this up before I pass out! This Goddamned thing weighs a ton!
               But—you are doing it by yourself!
               Uh—eh. Oh, so I am! Ehh—so anyway hey like I said get busy—
               My God this is a miracle!
               Hey! Hurry up talk later please God dammit!
               Wind kicked around the workman stooping where are the screws. The screws the rules say are three inch stainless steel wood. As; hurry up hurry! Knock something in this to get it! This hurts! Hurry up.
               —I never expected the questions that kept coming. Oh, I expected some, that I could easily answer to convince the Captain that nothing had gone on that could possibly justify my being called by him. But from the first I got—yah I got—got sent totally reeling. But still, it was easy. What message? was my answer. Though honesty was easy I still knew that someone had lied about something, so—it is good it is very very good that it is also turning out up and down very easy for the signboard to be held just so. Held with the top edge perfectly flush with the post tops. As though the holder had read over my shoulder when I stood before the master with the scroll of orders held out before us. Consider this snap; before us before me before him before what’s left over. Given a choice I choose before us. Okay here’s a choice choose go on. All right since its definite you’re granting a choice then hurry up damn it I choose before us so; finally the correct screws twisted bouncy up out from ‘tween the greenieblades then got gripped and one got chosen obeying obey in response to cries of hurryup, what’s the snag, this is heavy, come on. That is what I thought but damn if I know why’d I thunk it—but anyway—
               Gripping three screws in his lips and grasping up his hammer the workman started driving a screw home in the upper left corner of the signboard. As screws sometimes do it would not start and when tried again it fell away into the grass and the workman fumbled with another.
               Hurry up, cried the watcher—hurry my arms are cramping—ahh it hurts damn you
               I am trying—don’t yell in my ear like that. I can’t do it right with you yelling
               All right just do it.
               —the next answer was easy—just I just didn’t know what the Captain was talking about
               Bend reach feel down the ridges of the threads a screw feels no feels yes unlike any given grassblade et—roundy round from the center where it most probably fell into the hole of but. Not there. Wind around the search party off the peak apparently the tiny mountaineer—most likely yes to be a Frenchman or Womanburst as all tiny climbers when that’s who it is usually if not always turn out to be circle. The fingers down around the grassy slopes yes no maybe fly out this is not where I want you to be I want you I want you just to be right where you really are eh eh one tiny climber followed by many other tiny climbers with each being thirty three and three thirds percent larger than the prior how many tiny climbers can the line contain before the planet no longer can contain no more eh eh eh e—ah yas the screw rises up sidewise against the soft fresh wood and surrounded by the smell of the interior of a freshly framed out stick built home as back at the lumberyard the yahoo came off the oily pulled up size small fork lift just the first of a line of size small fork lifts in line he wad can I help each one beind one quarter of a tenth of a millimeter smaller than the prior the first screw turns easily—When will you have these screws in? Et et I help you need a board or two eh is what he was going to say something like that and like that how many size small fork lifts can join the line before yes I need a large panel seven foot by four foot by half inch thick panel for a eh eh there are no such sized small fork lifts in the western hemisphere any more signboard and—ut cannot no. Cannot turn the screw further that you want plywood or solid panel and uh oh, the boss did not provide that detail so eh eh here we go again I replied what are the relative advantages or disadvantages of either son—but—the realization came up and over shutting that up thank God. Those words must have sounded so very insulting but as somebody with many loud heads a la medusa no but let it stand, said Jimmy-to-the-knock, I let back mouthing out okay the first screw’s in. So I can let this heavy fuck go. But let me get a second before before before finally-lee-lightly letting go this baby my hippo enter my parlor immediately though you are a stranger this is night there is a dangerous storm all a-brew so better get here before you end up an angel!
               Snatched up cleanly the second screwbaby I supposed I must of not violated the rules of the boss which I, had I been more astute, would have got from him by directing a second line of questioning around the big skirts of the basic bullet-pointed high level instructions; each instruction followed by another instruction being one-half a hexadecimally understood nibble and a crumb shorter in length than itself that Shorter VonShortless style measurement being expressed in characters not bitsy-bities or even straightwords the lumbering manboy slid down his oily forkside all saying, Well, panelboard will resist the weather better yuk yuk plywood is prone to separation being composed of the very very following—a thick layer or veneer glued down onto another thick layer being just one ten-thousandth of a milliliter thinner than its preceding layer this meatless-style bread only blandwich laid down onto another thick layer being just one ten-thousandth of a milliliter thinner than its preceding layer this fat triple-decker being laid down onto until—When will you have these screws in? I swear on this peachpit may the great gorgon blast me until there it practicallyh nothing left to lay down upon the word practically being all operative hey because the calculus said so the Great Gods of Newton Wittgenstein et cetera I mean, Good God, how many more times and ways different can we hint-hint at the overall purpose of this great lumber yard exactly the same as all other lumber yards but for the minor details of there being in some this many boardsticks and in some others that many boardsticks but in this here lumber yard eh eh eh hippo we have our number which is the right number number not the left or whattidy-whup; and water can make this even more complicated by seeping in bursting the molecular rigidity of the very heart of the woods herself and Sir Bambi VonDeerfather will majestically profile his superhorny cloven hooved self against the northwoods’ stately superprecious dawn and say all stately-like, Man is in the forest—so I were you I would get the solid paneling due to the relative imperviousness of its substance if treated right painted and sealed used soon enough not let lay around for decades in a musty dirtfloored cellat with this Ford intake manifold slammed on it that big ironpipe sawed into sections atop it or it spending some more years as the improvised top of a workbench—so I can let this heavy fuck go—upon which Briggs and Stratton overhaul after overhaul is performed which, comfy thunkit, can only happen if you yourself or your father or sons decide to abandon the high fashion designer business for lawn mower repair which will, unavoidably, lead to oil intruding between the molecules of the sweet virginal wood and it will be good for nuthin’ but—but b-b-b-b-ut that can’t happen you are a fine sort I can tell you give a shit so I will give you a break the solid panel will be yours for about thirty bucks plus tax—my face turned back into itself asking the boss seated there—virtually speaking of course—what it would do and the way was clear to the answer so gripping the tillerwheel we drove into the gale all saying back quite professionaly manlylike, and what would the comparable plywood panel be? I we us it plus any remainder uh, the-those and t-t-t-hese—there we’re drove on home.
               Hurry up!
               Okay! I got it.
               A more.
               Down grab a third up and in unfumbling slick the phillips solid twist now and twist and grab and turn over turn over all clockwise as time flows all clockwise how do we know is isn’t a thing that while in our hemisphere time drains into the future all clockwise but in their hemisphere time drains into the future all counterclockwise, and; and this; their hemisphere’s clocks tell a lie an instant that time rolls rightwise but is labeled as leftwise ahay ahee ahoo. To solve this issue would require time. Money. Thought. Decades of design. I mean for your example the water sluicing down the drain up north can be seen felt watched filmed and photographed and so solid stone proof can be proffered that in the north the spiral is the opposite of the shouth but. But but in in but in the case case of time we term to be flowing like water it very well may be that in the north time flows off ahead in one direction but in the south in the opposite direction as oh. In every northern lumberyard the plywood’s out front but the solid’s in back but in every southern lumberyard the solid’s out front but the plywood’s in back hey hey that could very well be true madame hippomotapo maybe just it snot bean upperventid out yet hey hey. It could very well also bee that the swarming truth that standing on one’s head in the upperside equals standing normally but because it’s not expected it’s always an imaginary upsidedownness we see. But in the bottomside the upsidedownness of the people there generates the possibility that standing on one’s head is normal for all those who wander down to their country they just feel that permanently standing on our heads is normal for you and me. Hey hey. Even though because we have been told countless times that standing on one’s head for one’s entire life just can’t be, for environmental as well as physiological reasons, we just can’t see that we and all others about us are upside down from what we’re taught is rightside up so for fear of being blasted by an extremely inconvenient truth we choose to believe that we are patently ah patently still all normal for the exact amount of discrete instant-frames the cinema of our God given lives are allotted by the eternal crap game we refuse to believe shapes each of our successive forward moments, played by juvenile giants crouched down behind the scenes in an eternal state of seventh grade parochial school morningside recess, but too large to play king of the mountain as may the more slenderly framed other-students.
               Okay here she comes hang on.
               Hurry up!
               Yes okay pick out and up three babies two tween the lips one push-tap prick in and start. Hot handletwist one past the next and yet another and on into ten and more yet still—rough splines amber colored handle like there ‘eally outta’ be some specimen trapped in there. This thing here gone up by my own and with this other one ‘till now most only watching will be here how much longer than my end his theirs of yours even. How many times driving this or that thing or what have you punch-holder in it goes it seems all right too east even so too easy that the last twist rips into view a thank God moment but—b-b-b-ut yonder done let go out she falls and here’s the next curseword blown past the tail of a thank and a worse thing than that even. A bouncedown all shitty-pop’t down ‘tween the greenblade, in Summer, when it’s too hot even made that way by your God by way of delivering the backhanded order of do not no don’t don’t even think of work outside today it is much too hot but now he is laughing off where he’s up on his gleaming gold throne-chair seat watching you cuss and sweat grip and bend and he’s also thrown in, for random use to avoid you becoming immune to your assigned well-deserved punishment, the curses you’d stopped delivering will boil up from the bottom of the petri dish you’re being observed on when you crack your head on some wooden protuberance you never think to move someplace else unless you’ve just nearly split your forgetful self’s skullcap over down top of it—three’s just twisted home pull four from lips shinily spittledrool lubricated so yah yah this one should be a dream in the driving and what if it is the rubbed hard amberpiss tinged fossil of an old school rock hard driverhandle’s near to cutting your palmflesh not quite to ribbons but perhaps to one or two of those types and also. As the twisting over twisting of screw four proceeds the carp in the tunnelflow unseen up north become for reasons known only to the great Jules Bream herself and part-time lutemaster, who by the way is partwise responsible for your predicament due to lack of the necessary focus and commitment—as in thou shalt not serve two lutes simultaneously because they can only be played one at a time because, for reasons far beyond human comprehension, most creatures in this plane of existence possess no more than two arms and, if they’ve more, that is almost always accompanied by so many other debilitating deformities that in ninety nine percent of such cases these are stillborn or if not live no longer than hours after birth—whew—nd both arms are required to successfully play one lute. But yes yes yes heyyy sephamore. There’s gone the four here’s the five and there’s been no bitching from yonder helpmate or maybe the softwall drawn back around this ground zero of maximum striving complete this task has soaked the words up so what who cares they’d of been ignored anyhoot turning and turning all blazing palmflesh blister-twisting beginning to haze over with the merciful fog of numbness approved by our merciful savior Jesus Christ himself, who also was pierced for no sin of his own and doubly so—which has to be true because is there anyone. Anyone oh great one anyone anywhere at all who can drive two screws simultaneously one out to the left and the other out to the right—with a screwdriver in each hand; both being turned simultaneously—what a feat that would be. Ah, impossible. Onto the traveling cheap Johnny traveling circusshows’ opening nearly free but not quite sideshows; the shout! The crowd!
               The crowdshout so thick it is as if from a singly made planetsized lungpair!
               Hurry! Hut!
               Please hurry bless you God bless you my God!
               Drivehome twistright twistleft carpals groaning!
               My word truly we are witnessing a miracle!
               There went four—on to five—
               Hurry hurt!
               Thrust home those knucklebusting twisters all champlike, my hero!
               God is great!
               Six the last just one hand required—which is lucky because all right power’s flamed out!
               Six half!
               God willing—
               Six! Ah—
               Step back from your baskets arms in the air!
               All right let go!
               Thank God!
               —but still, it was easy. What message? was my answer. Though honesty was easy I still knew that someone had lied about something, so—
               All right six paintdrops left to go then it’s all over.
               I—you’re done all the screws?
               Yes I am. Now here—
               The workman knelt picked up the small paintcan and shook it hard upside down as the watcher said, Why didn’t you tell me I could let go?
               The workman flipped the can upright and pried up the top with a metal tool.
               Are you going to answer?
               The workman rose can in one hand slim black brush in the other and dipped it in the white, saying, I guess I just got swept up in the job. Sorry, man.
               Sorry? My arms ache like hell. Come on.
               What’s done is done. Here. Here’s the last. Then we can pack up and go.
               God it is hard to believe—then what?
               —like—were you talking—
               Brush downdab up press screwhead one gone.
               —in your sleep and work up and—
               Brush downdab up press screwhead two gone.
               —on talking and—heard the end—
               Brush down and downdab up press screwheads three four gone.
               —the end of what—
               Same exact but screwhead five’s gone.
               —of what you’d been trying to say all along?
               And; the last screw painted over covering covering over to gone all the pasts.
               And now there’s the same old blanksign that’s always been there for no reason.
               The townies up the slope had been busily bickering all this time but the first glanced down seeing the two yahoos were gone, and said, Hey, look. They’re gone. Where’d they go—wait. it looks like the job’s done. See there?
               The second glanced down seeing nothing at all out down the shoulderstrip all the way from there to the far crossroads. At once together they realized they were freezing.
               Ehh, hey. What are we doing out here? What about a job? What job?
               Okay come on. What job?
               Okay. I don’t know. Let’s not stay here. It’s getting—cold.
               Freezing growing from toes up toward faces busily looking for reasons for nothing, so.
               Me either. God—but—let’s go for a coffee. My treat.
               Sounds great. I think the Captain owes us an answer about why he sent us out here.
               Captain? What Captain? What the cold freeze your head? Who the hell is this Captain?
               Uh, eh. Good question. I guess—it just came out. Must be the cold.
               True. Has to be. Things without reasons well, such things just cannot be—while later at the coffee shop, the owner, dismayed at the fact of there having not been even a single customer for days if not weeks if not months not years eh never ever, realized before disappearing that there’d never been anything there anyway to close up for good even if that’s what he decided to do after trying to make a go of it again after this recent smokestorm clears out all gone all away.

Ending the Nine Month Long Important as Hell Corporate Conference Call

               What? sniped the earpiece, rash rough crushing thrusting at Jamed’s ear, saying, What? No? Why now what do you mean no hey what wait a minute Jeff cut the line yeah Jeff like I said cut the audio! Right! So Jeff obeyed generating shuffling plastic on metal clashing while electronically slowing down, pausing silently, stopping, so, yes; go; cut, thus boiling up silence hard sharp and brittle, which packed hard filling Jamed’s ear canal, just like it had more than ten times earlier in the God-damned conference call, with a kind of switch-click then a deeper hollow nothing that all screamed all crazy, the show’s shut off the plug is pulled there will be no more go on and hang up sounds like it might be like it might be it all the way, eh, yes—at the emergence of this hollow nothing meaning everything gone empty noise, Jamed gave up and pulled the phone from his burning with pain ear, the lobe of which was beet-red from having tight pressure applied day after day of this months-long round table dissertation, which might be over now yes or no but it seems the answer is yes because the pulled-down earpiece hissed with sudden sound easily heard that said in every decibel of its elemental incoherence, OK listen now we’re close to the end thank God we’re close to coming so wake up; this pistoned out hard from the hot sweaty earpiece, and plunged further on grinding crushing harder yet against Jamed’s raw red earlobe, pumping in more pain, that grew intense as that experienced when both ears are being slowly slashed off by unwashed men using old kitchen knives for some silly but very evil reason, only bearable in that this version though just as intense, is only momentary and words once more flowed in against Jamed’s tissue thin pink eardrum, smoothly anesthetizing the wounds where the ears feel like they’ve been forcibly removed, and calming him all the way in through all past the drum and on across the hammer anvil and stirrup and on down spiraling into the centrifugal cochlea, down and down straining for the finish line crowd all cheering, being, gone, all hung up, and slammed down, but the phone can’t break no, it’s plastic. And, thank God, thank God, thank God, now he can run and go pee.
               What time is it anyway?

Jim Meirose's short work has appeared in numerous venues, and his published novels include No and Maybe - Maybe and No (Pski's Porch). Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection (Mannequin Haus), Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF pubs), and Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer (Optional books). Info at www.jimmeirose.com @jwmeirose
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