Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beaucu & Jez

Today a freewriting exercise. It's just what happens. Based on a prompt, write without knowing what you're going to write, don't go back and edit. Just let 'er rip.

Paul Harding, Tinkers, p. 172. “He loved the job, the smell of the fresh coarse brown paper, the bundles of bags, sharp blocks of pulp, peeling bags off the piles, snapping them open.”

Beaucu Stein didn’t intend to kill the woman. He was sitting in his underwear on the recliner in his 3rd floor walk-up apartment, chain smoking, drinking cold black coffee, and watching the evening news. He was getting aggravated with the hippies protesting the war. He started shouting at the TV, pounding his fists on the coffee table, and kicking the wall. In his anger and frustration, he picked up the television, pulling out the electric cord and the antenna connection in one giant power snatch, and tossed it out the window. He didn’t know old Mrs. Kellaher and didn’t see her on the sidewalk below. Mrs. Kellaher didn’t see the television flying out the window above her. She was dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Beaucu was sentenced to 90 days in the county jail and he lost his job. For 20 years he’d had a perfect work record with Bergmann’s Laundry. He drove a truck, picking up and delivering oriental rugs to be cleaned. Bergmann’s loved him because he could handle the big, heavy rugs by himself without a partner, thus saving Bergmann’s the expense of having two men on the truck. But even though his employer loved him, they couldn’t keep him with the manslaughter conviction. It was a good thing Beaucu was strong and it was a good thing he preferred to work alone; no one wanted to work with him and hear his social and political rants. Beaucu fancied himself to be in a political party of which he was the only member—some variation of ultra-conservative neo-Fascism. An unsuspecting person unfortunate enough to get into a political conversation with him might hear Beaucu mutter words of praise for the Nazi party. This in itself was a mystery, for everyone in town knew that Beaucu’s parents were Jews who emigrated from the old country. Beaucu Stein was a mountain of a man, a bear who towered over all the lowlife people he despised. He hid behind mounds of bushy black hair and a black beard down to his chest. His forearms were the size of tree trunks. No one knew where the name Beaucu came from and no one dared ask. After he got out of jail, Beaucu’s parole officer got him a job bagging groceries at a local organic food market. Beaucu hated the job and rarely spoke to anyone; he just went to work, walked home to his apartment, and listened to the radio. Until the day Jezebel McClosky-Jones began working as a cashier at the market. Jez was the antithesis of Beaucu--she was a tiny as Beaucu was huge; she had a pierced eyebrow and tattoos and a spiked short white hair; she was ultra liberal. She was a vegan pacifist who believed in radical environmentalism. But Jez appreciated Beaucu’s work ethic and she began to request that only he bag groceries in her check-out line. She smiled at him when he was grumpy, she teased him, and brought him cookies during his work breaks. She recited poetry to him and sang silly songs while she worked. All of the customers loved Jez’s cheery spirit. Beaucu didn’t understand why he liked going to work now. Suddenly things had changed. He loved the job, the smell of the fresh coarse brown paper, the bundles of bags, sharp blocks of pulp, peeling bags off the piles, snapping them open.

1 comment:

  1. The crinkle of today's plastic bags being opened lacks the power and authority of a paper bag being snapped open! Bagged groceries as a kid, there was no pastic back then.