Rated: R for Rainywhether

[center]The Quiet Desperation of Inanimate Objects[

When I turned the faucet on, it gagged and wheezed for breath. I quickly turned it off. The pain emitted from its rotting metal entrails saddened me. The poor thing had to be in my house, a place no decent plumbing should be forced to accommodate. I know it tried its best, pushing the effluvium through rusty pipes, guiding the fluoridated water to my sink, it did its best. I sat by a dying warrior, hoping it survived one more day.

“But what about me?” my toaster cried. “I only heat on one side. Golly, gee, I hold my breath and squeeze my electrical current as hard as I can, but I'm still only one-sided.”

I rubbed the dull aluminum and reassured it, “Pshaw! I like to turn the toast around while its cooking.”

Being impoverished brought many problems, other than Ramen noodles and generic medicine (when I could afford it). It meant disappointed appliances and household necessities; bewildered peeling paint and wobbly tables; frustrated doors and ripped blinds. Almost every item in my place coughed up the bloody phlegm of rust.

Except my refrigerator, my stalwart hero. It stood in the corner of my kitchen, guarding frozen vegetables and the anonymous leftovers of bygone meals. At night, a constant hum, the mantra of a superior device, enticed me into a fast sleep. But the next day, I sat at my dining table, my head lay on crossed arms as loneliness crept into my thoughts.

No human being liked me, but I can't say I tried. About thirty years ago, Ralph (a friend of a friend) proposed to me. His words cautioned me to a grim future.

“I don't have nobody. I want kids, a home, the whole enchilada, but look at me. And look at you. Neither of us is much, so how 'bout you and me gettin' hitched. I got my own Ford Pinto repair business which'll always put a roof over our heads and food on the table. How 'bout it?”

I mused – was I so bad that he thought this was in the realm of possibility?

“That's very nice of you to offer,” I said, “but I'll pass.”

About eight years later, I was in an IHOP and passed a table. There was Ralph! Squeezed in next to him was a little boy that looked just like Ralph and across from them were a woman with a fidgety toddler. He saw me and smiled. A nice smile. Not a 'see-what-you-could-have-had smile'. But a sincere, contented expression. Shit on him.

My TV was not a real friend. Just when a show got interesting, it convulsed into static. “And the murderer is...shazza, shazza, blick, shazza, blick, crack, shazza...”

When it lapsed into discordance, I consigned myself to the front stoop, forcing my lungs to breath the unfamiliar air. I sat perusing my environment, chin resting on folded hands.

This neighborhood had never been great. Fossilized Schwinns claimed the front yards of clapboard homes and garbage muddled the gutters along the streets. Ugly birds and old sneakers dangled on low hanging electric wires.

“Got a cigarette?” he asked.

I sat up straight and glared at him.

“No!”

“Want one?” he offered holding out a half-smoked Marlboro. I shook my head. “Think it'll rain?” he continued as he lit the tobacco fragment.

“I'm not interested in having a conversation.”

“Too bad. I got this desire to communicate with another human being. Ya know, I'm just walkin', no where to go, nothin' to do and it hits me. I wanna talk with another person.” He took a leisurely drag and flicked the ashes. “You were just sittin' here and you looked sorta like...oh, shit...I don't know what I'm talkin' 'bout.”

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“I guess I'm lonely.” He dropped the cigarette and stepped on it. “I used to live in Aurora. It made this place look like a palace. I was kinda the fix-it guy of the neighborhood. Had it good. Lived with Laura and Butch, a couple I met goin' through their garbage.”

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“But shit happens, and boy did it! One day I come back to their place and the cops was all over, like flies on shit. Cop cars flashing, neighborhood folks all surrounding Laura and Butch's front steps.

'What the shit's goin' on?' I ask. Then I see a cop running down the steps with this bundle of somethin' in his arms.

“Guess what it was?”

“Don't know,” I said.

“Guess!”

“I don't have any idea.”

“You'd never get it right in a million years!”

“I give up. Tell me!”

He lowered his voice to a whisper. “It was a … dead baby! Laura had had a baby and stuffed it in the refrigerator. Can you believe it? One time I went to get a beer and saw this thing wrapped in a towel. I thought it was a turkey, was thinking about tearing off a wing.”

“Why are you telling me this disgusting story?”

“Just conversation,” he said rubbing his scraggly chin trying to conjure up another ghastly narrative. A light breeze stirred up the dry leaves. It made me think of the German people living outside Nazi concentration camps. Day by day, they they saw these little bits of flotsam swirl through the air.
“So, I guess I'll be going. I walk by here every day, maybe I'll see you again.” he said.

“Maybe.”

I trudged up the stairs and turned my head to see the man walk away. He wore a loose flannel shirt that flapped in the light wind. His brown work pants had been worn witless. A melancholia faltered through my body as I contemplated the wrong roads he had taken.

The clock on my kitchen wall told me it was 3 pm., I made a mental note. Maybe I would see him again.

I checked and there was still half a can of last night's ravioli, which my heroic refrigerator had duly kept cold. I did not nuke it since the slight elevation in temperature and taste was not worth the effort of putting it in the snotty appliance. The microwave stared at me,

“What the hell else am I here for?”
Unbelievable talent. Wow, rainy, you captivate me and then leave me speechless. Bravo, bravo.

Now...we just need to get you a new ice box. :D  
Nailed it, love it. If my appliances could talk, my stove would say, "no, no, don't turn the oven on when you've got three burners working overtime, you'll snap the breakersssssss..............fizzzzzzzzzzzle.
Rainy, if we can't get you an agent yet, would a Twitter account do, to spread these stories to the world!
Rainy I had read the Little Things right before this one and it was great. But this one Rainy just blew me away. The ugly birds and old sneakers, what a great line. I loved it all' I'm honored to know you. Glenn
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Thank you...You are so kind, I wanna blush
Rainy, I missed this poem before, -- must have worried about the R rating! ha  Anyway, glad I got over my trepidation, because I can relate to the toaster's angst. Love the title too.
Thanks so much, liz
only you rainy, only you. Such an original!
Love you, Con...Thanks
cron