39 Gallon Standard Lawn and Leaf
by Guy Ives
As my roommate and I fix up our cozy Oak Lawn duplex, nestled just between the rich and the impoverished of Dallas, Texas, I discover a closet underneath the stairs. It is wallpapered in a strange fuzzy pink paper. Staring at the fuzz I suddenly know, just KNOW that a small boy was once forced to live here. "Rupert!" I exclaim as I babble to my roommate a long and intricate history of the ghost of a nine-year-old boy who was small, deformed, mentally challenged and the like. He was forced to live for years in this hovel by a harsh and unforgiving family, and now his ghost is with us. Over the next few weeks we discover that Rupert is intrigued by a variety of things: pepper, Ani Difranco and down feathers. I lose three pillows and come home daily to the blasting tunes of Ms. Difranco. The pepper supply is perpetually depleted, no matter how many times we refill the pepper crock. I learn to heighten my appreciation for salt and tabasco as seasoning agents.
So there’s Rupert – spooky, inconvenient, but not too burdensome. I am just getting used to living with this ghost when my roommate announces that she will be spending the week at her parent’s house while they are out of town. She leaves me with a ghost.
But, never fear, there is always someone in our circle that is in need of a resting-place. So, I procure a homeless doctor. This man is not the first homeless doctor that I have harbored. Odd, I know. Any which way, homeless doctors are the best. Really, they are. They always have strange, shady goings on and adventures a plenty. This current doctor is encumbered with a former housemate (also now homeless) who runs into all sorts of problems. So, one evening the homeless doctor brings home what is definitely an illegal sort of knife and most probably a murder weapon belonging to the former housemate.
"I don’t want to drive all the way to L.A. with this dagger in my car."
"Okay, leave it on the table."
"No, you better hide it."
I stick it in my normal roommate’s Pottery Barn Vase. I grow oddly excited by the idea of harboring not only the ghost of a deformed nine-year old boy once banished to a poorly wallpapered closet and a homeless doctor but also a murder weapon! I feel October like one feels the effects of mixing pharmaceuticals with a stiff martini. The flash of salty olive in my mouth! Spoiled only by the dull hum of all too familiar narcotics. I have successfully – even in the painfully straight city of Dallas – created an ambiance of variety, danger and spice. But, all good things must come to an end. The homeless doctor really leaves for L.A. Rupert is oddly quiet and my normal roommate returns, none too happy about the murder weapon in her Zucchini Green Matte Vase.
But I, I am still soaring sky high. I am sweltering in dark side. Without my ghost or my homeless doctor, with only a murder weapon that is quickly losing its novelty, mystery fills my overactive brain. And then fear! Certain fear! I will be, undoubtedly will be… MURDERED!
I wouldn’t mind being murdered so much. I mean WHAT an experience! Bigger than life! Glorious moment of supreme action in the city of brotherly boredom! Augh! To be murdered, swiftly and quickly, a blow to the head, a quick gutting of the viscera! A shattering of the ribcage! So biological, so revealing! The one moment when one can see the cavern of truth concealed by one’s own peritoneum! The only opportunity to fondle one’s own intestines and berate - face to face - the disobedient stomach! To frolic among the liver! A quick five minutes- but WOW what a rush- too shocked to feel the pain, but an anatomy lesson like no other. Now the suspicion that I harbor two spleens can be confirmed or denied! No greater moment of truth ever exists!
But then the FEAR hits me. It is not the murder and the death that comes with it that scares me- but the aftermath. The horror of my lifeless body being chopped to bits, hacked to pieces for easy disposal. I must find a way out of this.
All of these thoughts race through my mind as I sit eating a soft boiled egg while my normal roommate studies clinical ethics or biochemistry or some such thing.
I jump up and begin to yell about fitting my entire body into a lawn and leaf bag. It is imperative that I fit! No murderer will chop and hack MY lifeless body to bits. NO way! I run to the kitchen and get a bag. I climb in- and with a little help from my oddly unfazed roommate- I fit! She pulls the plastic drawstrings and closes the bag! Hoorah!
My body goes slack with relief. The artificial-Christmas-tree scent of soothing plastic. I am tempted to fully embrace the sack - to blatantly ignore ‘not recommended for food storage’ - and live out my days here. Inside my Hefty Cinch-sak, my veritable womb of comfort, I know what I will say to my murderer when he appears one day in February or possibly August.
"Do it! Do it! and KNOW that I will fit. I will fit into a standard lawn and leaf bag. No hacking! No chopping! Strangle, clobber, stab away and know this! ME! I will fit!
That night I sleep like a baby. I dream of fancy high-powered homeless CEOs showing me the time of my life.
I will fit.
About the author:
Guy Ives is a person who tried and tried and tried to become the lounge singer their name destined them to become. So far, no luck.