Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A STEAK FOR THAT SHINER, A BADGE FOR THAT VALOR

The entire little depressed town seemed to sink and sag toward its epicenter--a rusty gas station with attached lobster shack that had a neon sign that hadn't been illuminated in months. Everything around, plunked and scattered among the pine trees, was a tombstone memorializing the whaling industry. Piles of rust-colored tires, mildewing and disintegrated ropes down by the jagged wooden structure that used to be the wharf, and Tommy's grandfather, wheeling about back and forth across his front porch, still demanding that people call him "Harpoon Joe." In the back of Tommy's house at the edge of the yard, was the newly constructed dock, and against itbanged a small boat that no one took out anymore. On clear days, when the glint of possibility was there on the horizon, Tommy dragged his Underwood out to the dock and typed raucous, haiku-like notes to his love on the back of colorful pieces of origami paper. He combined them with paperdolls cut out of the Toronto Star, to which his grandfather inexplicably subscribed but never read, and sent the whole parcel off with the post to his love at the other side of the Sound, hoping that they'd be kindly received. He spent gloomier afternoons reclining in the hammock strung up between two pines. Its ropes squeaked a little against the bark; it was a sound that prevented him from concentrating on anything for longer than a few minutes. A sound that helped him forget why he'd ever want to leave the yard, the house, the town.

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