The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Handyman Sketches: Sometimes a Hero

Don't Blame Me, I'm Just Here to Fix the Garbage Disposal: Part Five

Sometimes a Hero

A man is lying on the sidewalk on his back.
Heart attack.
A crowd gathers.
He's breathing hard, staring up at the faces.
Nobody knows how to help.
You're just a kid, not a doctor.
You wish you knew what to do.

At the playground two teens start fighting with knives.
You're just a kid.
You hide behind a bench and watch.
Ripped T-shirt.  A shriek.  There's blood like spilled paint. 
A cop could stop them.
You wish you knew how.

Years pass. 
College degree. 
You follow the money,
try to act like a grownup
but veer from the path.
Now you appear at Plum Court
where she's at the edge of panic: the pipe exploded
or the toilet backed up
or the garbage disposal makes a funny noise and smells like,
like garbage,
and you're the guy who knows how.
The little kid watches, squatting.
He wants to touch your tool belt.
You're the guy who knows what to do.

Note: Among my contracting jobs, for many years I've served as the on-call handyman for a group of townhouse-style apartments — or rental units — or whatever one should call an enclosed square of two-story dwellings in a subdivision of Sunnyvale, California.  It's steady money.  As a minor league writer, I need that.
I tried to summarize the experience in prose, but verse seems to work best.  Most of the events took place in the 1980s though a few are more recent.  This is Part Five of a series.

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