"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


The Recruiter Called Back

The Recruiter Called Back

He’s going off, west, to Texas, to die alone, somewhere in the dust and the heat. I wouldn’t, that sounds passe as all hell, and all the cowboys are already dead. They worked for forty years at the same company only to be, unceremoniously, while on their lunch break, barred from re-entering their office (their saloon? where do cowboys do business), their badge not being valid any longer, their money no good here, the well dry and the jobs gone. It’s negative forty degrees in Chicago and the homeless are freezing in the streets, or to the streets rather, I imagine they’ll have to be scraped off or burned away like the kerosene igniting the railways, which is an ironic way to go, the ninth frozen circle being reserved for the betrayers and all. You’d think that the oil slick lie of capitalism being, y’know, the nation-wide treachery it is should earn it an ice-encased spot below screaming Judas in the Deceiver's mouth, but in reality those under its heel are the ones who, in this life, suffer the eternal tortures waiting for Uncle Sam and already trickling down onto Reagan. 

He’s a pagan and will find what he knows, and that’s limbo. He was scared of not having enough money to do what he wanted with this life, so he’s following the job west to die. It’s not greed. That’s not what I said. It’s unfulfillment. Doesn’t have a hobby. He’s already climbed his figurative mountains, built his literal decks, grown his weed plant in the basement (twice no less), and one of the two kids is in a proper college. That’s it. Pack your bags. The dog’s dying soon and most of the neighbors have moved away.

For a period of about four days, between the obligatory “mornin’” before the workday on Friday and the after work “evenin’” the following Monday, I pretty much figured he was dead. From Friday evening to Sunday, I didn’t hear a word from him, or even have him cross my mind. I was gone, out, alive, and it struck me Sunday morning that I’d have no way of figuring out he was dead unless I got a call or came home that night and waited for the smell to hit. Shuffling in at the usual one AM, I saw his cars were still there, which didn’t help me any. Checked the white BMW in his garage and didn’t smell any monoxide or even see so much as a fur coat in a seat, so I went to bed thinking I’d find the body in the morning if there was one to find. Maybe say hi to it on the way out the door, wait for it to call me a piece of shit and make me a few minutes late in some Weekend at Bernie’s-esque pantomimed shpeel.

Monday night, off the job, I come home and he’s cooked dinner. It was this like, beef and penne thing with nutmeg and cumin, it’s one of his signatures. Trump had said something so we talked about that a bit and then I’d eaten so I went off again until we said “morning” and then “evenin”, and it’s now the next weekend and he could very easily be dead again. I keep my phone on vibrate so I’ll let you know if they find him on the deck, I’d like to do the scraping, it’s a good deck and he put a lot of time into it and if I keep most of the flesh on him I think I can rig some staples and string to Weekend at Bernie’s 2 him through the last leg of the recruiter’s vetting process and get his body flown to Texas for his Last Job. He’ll thaw in the dust and the heat and then we might actually get the chance to have a conversation, him finally being in the mood to listen. Assuming the staples and string hold up, of course. Without those, I mean, come on, don’t be ridiculous. You can’t talk to the dead.


August M. Spencer is a Southern Optimist, Fighter of Nihilism, stuck in the first state to secede but in love with a mountain woman and not complaining much. He’s got one piece in The Esthetic Apostle and does Twitter badly. Twitter: @august_spencer1

Cover photo by Mahir Uysal

Shedding skin

Shedding skin

Violated, Times Two

Violated, Times Two