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Keep Art Alive :: Art by Unknown

I was born,
on the wrong side of town.”

Jack forgot the stack of comics that Joe had brought back for him. They lay there forgotten on the passenger seat. Jack had spent the late afternoon helping carry two bags, three black trash bags, and a heavy cardboard box from the truck bed into a small room above the garage of the house behind the gas station. Rae followed him at first, a shadow silently duplicating each step he made. Jack wanted to say something clever, he wanted to say anything really, but his mind felt like a vast nothingness, like the desert surrounding them.

With the heavy cardboard box in his arms, Jack could barely keep balance on his skinny legs. He was trying, though, making internal deals with his body, promises of a slice of cherry pie and a long hot shower if it would just hold out for him. At that moment Jack wished he cared about P.E., that he took the time to run, or lift weights, or whatever it is that the football players did that made them look like they did. He loathed sports though. It seemed such a waste of time when there were so many books to read and all those channels on the satellite TV.

No one read in this town though, and the only programs anyone seemed to watch are football and wrestling, and countless “reality” shows.

“Sorry that box is so heavy. Can I…help you with it?” Rae asked shyly.

“It’s fine.” Jack mumbled, his words mashed up together as if he had three or four marbles in his mouth due to the fact that he was balancing said box with his chin. He hoped he sounded confident though, and not ready to fall over.

“It’s…those are my books,” She explained, “I didn’t want to leave my books behind.”

The word books were magic to Jack. The words burst in his head like dynamite, or a murder of crows that were suddenly taking flight. The word, it was like rocket fuel and suddenly Jack felt stronger. If he could have he would have bounded up the stairs. He wanted to rush, wanted to be upstairs already, wanted her to ask him to help empty the box so he could see its contents, know what she read, have someone he knew that actually owned a BOX OF BOOKS.

“I like books.” Jack said, a ridiculous understatement, and so stupid sounding, he thought, cursing his brain and mouth for their shortcomings. How could someone so well-read say such ridiculously banal things?

“Want to help me unpack them?” Rae asked.

And there they were again, more crows murdering Jack’s insides as they burst out of him, circling the room, dancing, flying, singing a chorus of resounding YES. He wanted to say yes to her in a thousand languages, in a million different ways, with an orchestral musical score and back-up singers with their Walk on the Wild Side “do do do’s”, but as “yes yes yes’s”, all of it together.

“Uh-huh.” Jack answered, his mouth, letting him down again.

Picking Up the Pieces :: Milk, featuring Idris Elba

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