The Dream Mechanic – Part XXXIXDec 22nd, 2010 | By Tom Fillion | Category: Series, The Dream Mechanic | 654 views
A NON-HEALING WOUND FROM AN UNKNOWN SOURCE
A NON-HEALING WOUND FROM AN UNKNOWN SOURCE was originally published in Dew on the Kudzu.
“It’s that one over there,” Dave said. “The shit brindle brown waterbed.”
The frame was the same color as a pit bull.
”No one in their right mind would buy this clunker,” Dave said, quoting one of his favorite expressions.
“That means there are a lot of prospects out there to unload it on and here’s the winner,” I said, completing the quote like a child in catechism class.
Dave handed me the invoice with the directions chicken-scratched on the back. Advertising on a country music station hooked another one I thought as I followed the directions and made a left turn from U.S. Highway 41, the road the Allman Brothers sang about for losers and misfits and Greyhound buses, onto a dirt road. I drove to the end of the sloping road and pulled up to a house with junk cars and trucks, junk tools and junk yard dogs in the front and back. A large man with thick arms and a huge chest walked out from the house. He had a dark beard that hid the spider’s web of scars on his face. His truck was parked outside. “A-1 Septic Tank Service” was emblazoned on the side of the sewage tank cylinder mounted on the truck bed.
“Shut up,” the man yelled at the dogs.
Gary Hopkins looked at me and figured right away I lived in the city and didn’t know anything about septic tanks so he filled me in on the vicissitudes of the septic tank business. I listened as I had become accustomed to doing. That was as important a factor as delivering and setting up clunkers no one else wanted.
“Every time you turn around, they’re raising the price to dump my loads. It goes up every year. I can’t pass the costs on either. There’s too much competition. I have to eat it,” he said angrily.
“You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of competition for sewage,” I said.
“Are you kidding? People are moving here from all over. You’d be surprised what someone will do to make a living. It’s supply and demand.”
“I never thought of that,” I replied and thanked him for the lesson.
“Put it up against that wall,” Gary Hopkins said after we went inside. He motioned to a beige wall. “We want to cover up those holes.”
We stood in a bedroom next to the family room with a pool table in the middle. I looked at the wall he pointed to and saw the bullet holes. It looked like someone had used it for target practice.
Gary Hopkins’ young daughter sniffed the plastic mattress in one of the boxes.
“It smells like a new pool,” she said happily.
It must have smelled like perfume to her compared to her father’s vehicle. What must it be like to have a father like Gary Hopkins and living so close to Highway 41 in the humid, fetid, palmetto undergrowth and in the shadows of decaying gypsum stacks just off the road? What year of high school would she get sick of being a septic tank daughter and run away from him with a sprint car driver from East Bay raceway that smiled at her from the concourse and her life would become all tangled up like the scrambled eggs and grits she would end up serving to truckers on some other stretch of Highway 41?
I set up the shit brindle brown frame in a short time. I had become an adept at it this part of the job. It was the god-awfullest, ass-wipe, looking frame that had passed through Dave’s store in a while. As I looked at its god-awfullness I was overcome with the revelation that the shit brindle brown waterbed was in the only place it could be, where the God Margo Hamilton said didn’t exist anymore would want it, with Gary Hopkins, owner of A-1 Septic Tank Service.
The waterbed filled with rusty well water. I sat in their family room and became part of the Hopkins’ family, became part of the hurt and scars on Gary Hopkins face, if only for the short time I would know them. My new family had guns stored on the bedroom and family room walls. Shotguns and 22′s mounted in one rack, antique flint lock rifles and pistols in the other. Musket balls, the size of the holes in the bedroom wall, and powder were nearby. On another wall hung an expensive-looking bow. Several arrows were below it, lying horizontal, the remainder in a nearby quiver. The tips of the arrows were made with razor blades and sharp as lightning strikes.
“Them’s for deer hunting. You hide in the woods and wait for the deer. When they show up you have to be quiet or you’ll spook ‘em. They can’t smell you neither. You have to be upwind of them. I only use bow and arrow with deer. They don’t hear the arrow coming. It hits them out of nowhere. That kind of wound will never heal up,” Gary Hopkins explained like a father to a son.
Hopkins’ brutality and primitiveness stuck in my mind. I drove the van on Highway 41 to Dave and Margo’s house. There was beauty and terror in his method. I imagined Hopkins somewhere in the woods, his thick frame and scarred face, scentless and invisible as he waited to shoot the razor-tipped arrow at an unsuspecting Florida deer that didn’t know death, scentless and invisible, was in the air screaming towards it.
“Gary Hopkins paid me in cash for the waterbed,” I said turning to Dave.
He grabbed three hundred dollars of Hopkins’ hard earned sludge money.
“Fix me another ginny, ” Margo requested. “And turn off that jazz. How many times do I have to tell you that. Put on my Tchaikovsky. The one I got from Reader’s Digest. No, put on Ravel’s Bolero.”
Dave ignored her and walked to the back porch. The bar was located in the Japanese garden. Margo smacked her lips. A pout came over her face.
“I love Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” too. It’s simply gorgeous. Wilbur, have you ever heard Carmina Burana?”
“It’s divine. You must really take the time and listen to it. Now’s as good a time as ever,” she said, while stopping Dave’s record and replacing it with hers.
This was part of the job too, I thought, putting up with Dave and Margo. Instead of listening to the music, I kept thinking about Gary Hopkins in the woods somewhere, his arrow racing out of nowhere leaving a wound that would never heal up on a deer, or on his daughter, who would probably love and hate him and her ex-husbands and not know why she was getting on the Greyhound bus again bound for anywhere but there.Help Support T21 with your Dollar Donation Today
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