Friday, February 25, 2011

If you go

If you go outside of town to the junkyard on a warm spring day,when everyone else is at work and the ground lies open and bare-brown for acres, and you drive past the washing machines and couches, empty pallets and stare-eyed dolls, past rusting yellow metal contraptions and broken glass shimmering like ice, startling the hulking shapes of vultures, you may find a group of empty oil barrels collected like muttering old men.

And if you dig in your pocket for a five, press it into the glove of the site overseer, and hump the barrel into the back of your car, it will roll around and deposit showers of rust and spider carcasses.

And if at home, you wonder how to get it open, wishing you had a giant can opener, you may instead settle for a cold chisel, sledgehammer, and brute force, and by the end of the afternoon, as winter reclaims the air while the sun sets behind bare trees, you peel the top off the barrel.

Inside it is slimed with oil residue, aromatic and rotten and industrial. The steel smells like ice, like industry, like cooking oil, and you think of clanking machinery. Gouts of black smoke. Mechanical contraptions never seen in our world: strange and ungainly walking machines, ships floated by a thousand balloons.

And always, always you hear the steady footsteps of the man with the bats limping his way through the fallen bricks of the old city.

And you think: there is a story there.


Babs said...

Obviously good and powerful writing cleverly and effectively integrates all the senses to conjure up images and scenes for the reader. You do an awesome job with that!

Anonymous said...

I like the smell of the barrel. Perhaps one of the most evocative and underused sense in writing. Done well and it can do more than a thousand words.