Landfill by Ian van Dijk

Moscato is a cerebral and ductile programming language. C! is dramatic and ceramic. I know both deeply but not readily anymore because I was fired from Panamerican Softworks two years ago and I am a shoplifter now. Now I am carbon and so was I there, but the kind they found indelible only on paper and they went paperless and left me dulled of the bite of a good actor in the kind of extended tragedy left between overheating computer 49ers who would all freeze to death after less than a winter anyway. The computers would go to the same landfill as my paper, just in a different bin the bin-fillers made ready for a new carbon the old darkstars had started to ash in their tray, like, volcanically, to these bin-filler guys profitably, guys like I once worked with smashing tube T.V.'s (this was in the '00s, my '10s) and some days smoking salvia for as long as it lasted, then K2 for the span of that fad, then infused tobaccos for the crest of their half-life on Earth, and finally a seemingly never-settling harvest parade of always unsettling designer flowers (this was for the last three months I worked there, at that point smashing flatscreens in the same vein as tubes).

I have created and destroyed and neither have worked. At twenty-one I had to leave the landfill for a final year of college. There I shot for the stars over the landfill, its dripping inputs, to be its purpose, some divinely decaying hot orb of startup spirit distantly, perhaps other-dimensionally responsible for the trash weather it mediated. For I could not, for the life of my parents, return to their suburbs another summer that I knew could turn into another year more easily than ever given where my drug habits were at the time and the fatal hurdle of no next-year of college, a hurdle that needs to be bounded with a start (or from a high place, in my case the tweed-padded shoulders of a rented crew of semi-giants).

Plus, by the time I graduated, the landfill had installed a smashing machine to keep up with a rockslide of T.V.'s and other electronics back into the ground, one experts could tell was positively self-perpetuating for the first time in T.V. history; something corrosive in the slow flow of Netflix and Macbooks through the television mountain was able to hollow it out over the years, experts said, so that the regular falling of tubes from the mountain’s face became enough in itself to loosen other tubes closer to its weakened interior. Falling tubes caused other tubes to fall until the whole structure collapsed in a flash, as if in a controlled demolition, one for the sake of the surrounding range.

After graduation from college and a month spent applying for jobs by email from my parents’ house, in my impatience for work I called the landfill and spoke with a man named Bryan who didn’t remember the names of my old bin-filler coworker-friends who I inferred the alcoholic had fired. Drinking nips and catching up with Justin by the Rite-Aid, I learned I was right, that there was no job left for me at the landfill and also that Bryan, a fucko, had fired Justin and the others just days after giving them over to the guys installing the new smashing machine as, like, helper monkeys, effectively ordering them to automate themselves out of their own jobs.

So I began a year of life in my parents’ house, at first to their managed dismay, then without their knowledge, and for three more months on the presumption that I was commuting to a job nearby and spending most nights at my girlfriend’s house. The job and girlfriend were equally fictitious. In fact I was spending most nights at my friend Fred’s house and crashing at my parents’ place only when Fred wanted to spend one-on-one time with his real girlfriend Rene or when I needed to steal food from my parents’ fridge and maybe cash from their no-questions-asked stash my father did not know I knew he regularly stocked with roughly five-hundred dollars to save himself and my mother trips to the ATM.

For these three months spent mostly at Fred’s, I spent most of my time alone and really looking for a job. I was given an interview at Panamerican Softworks because I lied, said I knew two programming languages other than Moscato and C!, K and Dynamic Flirt, esoteric languages I thought (rightly) would never find application in a commercial setting and so would be safe bluffs. Or maybe I got the interview because I sent a sample project stolen from Fred’s sophomore year Computer Science 250 folder and Fred was a talented programmer. I bombed the interview but got the job. How? Probably because when I told Fred about the interview he cackled that he knew the company’s COO Leroy Ni from an exchange course he’d taken at Amherst College and called him a day later to recommend me as his personal friend (and “longtime collaborator”). He must have recommended me at some point in their fifty minute Skype conversation that sounded to me like it was mostly about either a LoL mod, WoW mod, or capital-S Startup that in any case I’d never understand.

I worked at PS for a year as a software engineer until Apple’s offer-Bob-Stafford-couldn’t-refuse saw me pushed, by the patting and clapping hands of my coworkers (including even the part-time CEO, CFO, CMO, COO and CTO, all in town for a company valuation, their micro-managerial pats shoving me with particular force), into the microscopic void Bob left behind in the Human Resources department. Bob had doubled, but really one-and-a-quartered, as Lead Software Developer and Human Resources Advisor. He’d held the HRA position as a means of expressing a deep contempt he held toward anyone who stood in the way of his creative mission. He liked to scare people in his office but never sent a single official misconduct report to the Human Resources Director, his brother, Derrick Stafford, the more business-minded of the two Amherst graduates. Derrick took the LSD job in title alone when Bob left, for the sake of the higher pay he’d had to bait the hook with to reel in his brother. Bob was an uplifting LSD for the weblogging outfit Xanga at the time Derrick was forming PS, carrying Xanga through what Wired Magazine called a “renaissance.” He wouldn’t abandon his pet renaissance without good reason (a fifty-thousand dollar pay bump).

Everyone at PS understood that Bob was the only true tech talent to ever set foot in the company. The office took on an air of fear when Bob left, like the air of fear in Apple when Jobs left (in fact these were part of the same airborne fear event: Bob owed his job at Apple to the power-vacuum domino-effect of Jobs’ death, which saw a total of twelve tech talents sucked a step upward).

Bob left a bottle of KY Jelly and five prescription bottles in the bottom-right drawer of the HRA desk, leaking everywhere and made out to names other than his own and with the name(s) of the drug(s) torn off. I was a model employee at PS, the “HR Guy”: programmers could count on me to absorb the tantrums of their work-stress, but for nothing else. They thought I was a broken vending machine but I was merely the company’s crumple zone. I folded and folded until taking the shape of a desk ornament. Eventually the fear fueled utilitarianism evolving in the office thought it fit to trash me, chaff among shady documents chucked into the company shredder. No hard feelings. The claim to the mobile gaming goldfields PS staked (that of the not-quite-iPad, medium-sized smartphone market) soon ran dry, and soon all of PS’s non-C-O employees trudged back to their Eastern homes with only blankets to weather the weather and tales of what to expect when you’re expecting platform obsolescence.

I have created and destroyed and neither have worked and now I explore the middle. I steal in an abstract sense and I scrap, scavenge, and prospect. There’s enough stuff in the world but in the wrong places. It’s easy and harmless to live.

At the landfill, when Bryan was gone for the night but there was still ample light, I dug out a vein of computers that extended twenty yards into the sodden trash and emptied into a pool of computers just shy of the fence guarding the meadowland from the vaguely metallic rivulet that I could see running beneath the scrubby grass that was facing off with the Glad bags and their windblown spills at the outskirts, silver water I could see pour under the fence and further carve an existing streambed of the stuff leading from the computer pool downhill to a small but steady river of uncertain relation to the town’s water supply and animal life.

In four evenings I collected sixty hard drives and other things I learned to dislodge from the computers at mostly the tail end of the vein near the fence, in view of the river, where the triple-layered Glad bags we’d long ago smashed them in (a safety measure) hadn’t had time to weather, melt, or be torn apart by desperate animals. I made two-hundred dollars and came back two nights later unable to sleep and high on ketamine as well as an eco-radical intention of moving the computers dissolving in the pool of rainwater into a space I’d created in the nearby dry land when I removed a few whole computers (that I thought looked unbroken and high-end). The pool was a blackish clear murk about two feet deep, so, with only my pair of elbow-length rubber dish-washing gloves, I was not able to remove the computers at the very bottom. I tried instead to relocate the water with a plastic bucket. Perplexingly, however many bucket-loads of water I removed, the water-level in the pool remained the same. I surmised that the pool was being filled from some other source. In the landfill that was a hill as a whole, there was just one area at a higher elevation than that of the pool, and this was a mound of apparently nothing but plastic bags of packing peanuts held down under panels of wire fencing and flushed lawnmower engines and cinder blocks.

I thought I heard a labored scream coming from yards away from me that persisted for ten or fifteen seconds but my surroundings were wide open and I spent a minute pressing myself to pin the noise on something but there really was nothing that could have made the sound.

What was this strange leaking mound? A remnant of what it turns out. What it turns out is that the Town Manager had arranged the purchase of a used smashing machine from a green recycling company in China that was using it, along with nineteen others that were not dangerously overheating during normal operation, to pulverize shiploads of televisions and smelt the resulting powder into what the New York Times calls “a gold-laced toxic crust” sold to a second salvage operation in Eastern Russia that one source (who requests to remain nameless and have his identity hidden in television interviews) claims sells the goldcrust to jewelers as big as Zales and Kay. He claims this in a melancholically baritone whimper unable to not grab the full attention of mainstream media careers; anchors leap in droves to what seems a decent excuse from their putrefying duty to report on what’s wrong with the world’s water supply and instead pan for cocaine money from corporate jewelers they’ve applied their journalistic skills toward determining are not in the same loop as Kay (and, so, who may relish an exposé).

The Town Manager used the money budgeted for the purchase of a brand new smashing machine to buy the used one, which had an immense hopper fixed before its mouth, which used to open just below one of twenty conveyor belts that jutted out dockside along Blackwater-controlled waters in North China where a freighter from California would anchor and slide in just perfectly under the belts to offload the televisions of Silicon Valley and Hollywood Netflix converts, the televisions from tipped-off and mined-out landfills from Southern to Northern California, and the walls of televisions, some transported still in one piece, that once stood in electronics stores and hyper-stylized twenty-four-hour newsrooms. Every television that was ever on television found its way into wedding bands via goldcrust.

Nobody was really looking, but Bryan was told to remove the custom television hopper from the mouth of the smashing machine and discreetly dispose of it, which he did by covering it with more trash. He was also told to fire all five rather than just the two employees the machine was budgeted to replace. The Town Manager’s coke binge outlasted his stay at the Four Seasons and paced his sex with expensive prostitutes until his eventual escape to Mexico with Vivica “Goldie” Stephenson in the heat of the scandal that would soon erupt from the mountain of packing material and bathroom sinks I surveyed that night on ketamine while entertaining an unfamiliar moral initiative and exercising a stimulating investigative mindset.

Finding no computer water pools around the mountain’s base, I began climbing to its peak and soon found that the fenced over foam bags were not piled from the ground up but were draping off of something much more solid, some big thing I could tell they’d zip-tied together in order to camouflage them. When I reached the top I ripped the topmost bags of foam open and yanked them out from between two securely fastened segments of chicken wire and exposed the mouth of an enormous metal cone that would turn out to be the Chinese television hopper and Goldie Stephenson’s lifetime boon, what she would later call “this big cone from China they found in his dump.”

The hopper was resting upside-down on its lid with this lid securely closed except for an envelope-size panel door left open toward its very center, a small square leak I couldn’t see through the few feet of sediment-saturated rainwater I could plainly see twenty feet down from the four-foot diameter hole through which I stuck my head once I’d stuck it under the flaps of chicken wire. The hopper filled far quicker than it leaked and sent a substantial stream of water through a long underground aquifer of microbead pillows, sneakers, and outdated but not retro game consoles to eventually pool around the reef of fermenting computers before dribbling down and out into what a conservationist group with some clout in town considered an extremely precious river.

The river feeds into the town’s only conserved marshland. Today a six foot wall, with five of these feet extending underground, protects its natural purity from the computer water, which reached a concentration at the river’s outlet into the marsh high enough to cause the deaths of two Blue Herons (big beautiful birds to pretty much solely protect which, the marshland is conserved). Their deaths dismayed the conservationists, most prominently Conservation Committee chair Caroline Lanzilotti who had, in the wake of the computer water scandal, led a speculative search effort into the marshland and uncovered one water-bloated dead Heron and one Heron skeleton half subsumed in a seasonal mud field a stone’s throw down the waterline. Heron remnants cradled in her arm-length rubber gloves, Caroline cried tears fit for the crocodiles who’d lost the chance to clamp down on their downy blue bodies and chew.

I called the number on the sign by the marsh as it’s accessed from the boat put-in off Route 20. I drank, as I used to use the place to, the smallest non-nip bottle of Evan Williams the store down the road sold. I drank the first half before and second half after a five minute call to the Conservation Committee that brought me back to the landfill in the morning to what I woke at 9am to say should be a meeting at 10am instead.

When I arrived at 11am, Caroline, a middle-aged topiary-haired woman in an unshiny raincoat and jeans tucked into hiking boots, had already made camp at the base of what she had an hour to guess was the thing “like a water tower” I’d tried to tell her about on the phone. But she hadn’t found its outlet or attempted the climb to its mouth. When I met her she was some distance into an outwardly spiraling inspection of the garbage imbued ground around the hopper, looking as deep as she could into shallow oil-based caverns in search of flowing water with a flashlight and sunglasses gripped out of her eye line at the end of her nose.

“Does anybody work here? Do you work here?” Bryan would soon be arrested in violation of wispy EPA regulations as to the proper disposal of industrial equipment used in the recycling of electronics. “This guy Bryan does but I didn’t see his car.” I knew he was at the nearby bar because I checked its lot out of a habit I’d formed in my last five unsupervised nights of scrap-picking; I saw his Subaru Baja with its signature square of cardboard duct-taped in place of a side window that Justin told me a “lunatic at the supermarket smashed out with a bat.” That was the story according to an extremely drunk Bryan who arrived a window short and thirty minutes late to work one day without looking like he’d been home since last working (stubbly and wearing the same UFC hat and stains he’d worn the day before, smelling of McDonald’s on top of the predictable booze, gently whacking his skeletal-muscular structure back into shape for as many hours as he must have spent having it molded out of shape by the backseat of his car).

“So you would have to climb up to see but it’s this huge metal cone with a pool of water at the bottom. I thought it had to be the only thing that could feed the stream over there. I’ll show you the stream. It’s by the fence. You’ll see in a second and... see, just past that sand-weighted boxing dummy with the smiley face drawn on but low, low to the ground, well, I’ll just wait since we’re almost there… okay, that pool of water is filled with computers!” I’d refilled the pool with the computers I’d removed after deciding to screw-over Bryan. “It pours down the hill into the river. It, uh, comes from the cone.” She still had not seen a “cone” per se and looked at me like there was something wrong with me for trying to convince her of some cone when there, before her very eyes, was a visibly toxic dilute mercury-type liquid freely flowing into the river.

She returned for her buckets left at base camp and came back smoking a Newport 100 that lasted the following fifteen minutes, during which she troweled out a shallow bed in which to shove a bucket to collect the computer water. I wedged Razor scooters into the bucket’s sides and mounded a mix of sandy dirt and cement mix up against its base so it wouldn't slide down or roll sideways as it filled with water. I bummed a cigarette and she removed one of the Razor scooters to measure something about the bucket, a figure I guess she used to determine how much water it would hold before full to the brim. After thirty minutes spent talking about the Netflix remake of the first season of Seinfeld, she stopped a stopwatch I hadn’t noticed her start and put her other bucket in the fill station, at the same angle as the first as far as either of us could tell.

I urinated behind a bush and took out my cell phone and saw, instead of any Craigslist responses, one Tinder notification and that it was fifty minutes before Bryan would arrive. Caroline, on her cell phone designed to survive falling onto rocks and into water, reported to home base what I already knew plus some scientific stuff I could make ballpark sense of, and also that “They chose to risk an outcome and prepare for it instead of choosing not to risk the outcome at all. They were allowed to hold onto the money but now, un-for-tune-ate-ly, they have to spend it. Hey, fair is fair, Care Bear. It’s on the coldblooded second page of the contract! I’m not going to stand here and listen to you complicate a fucking mason to build a fucking wall you’re contractually obligated to—” and then, holding the contract up half-crumpled very near her face, yell-reading, “If the dump leaks into the river! It is leaking into the river, Bob, it is fuck—” and she yelled “Fuck!”

She looked to me in the absence of anyone on the phone, but wasn’t really looking to talk to me, which I took as a chance to offer her one of my cigarettes, which I decided not to hide from her and were luckily a much different brand from hers so it would have played as a trade if she were paying attention (she wasn’t really paying attention). She mouthed, away from the phone, “Men-thol?” but gestured negatively when whoever else got on the line before I could reply that no, they were Camels. I smoked while she spoke to Larry, who’d shown Bob out of the room, about how much of an asshole Bob is and then some other things that sounded similar but that I was not able to hear once she’d carried the bucket toward the parking lot and herself out of earshot.

Sitting in a race car seat-shaped gaming recliner covered from headrest to curved bottom with lichen and slime mold, I watched the bucket fill and became slightly nervous that Caroline would not be back in time for its next replacement, but she was back a second after I thought this, carrying stakes and pink marking tape that she tossed to the ground about ten yards down along the fence in the direction of the cone from which she walked. We exchanged the buckets and brought the next bucket back together. I watched her mix the liquid with a paint stick, fill five Redbull-size twist-top plastic bottles with the stuff, and dump the rest of it out in the direction of Bryan’s office shed. I then watched her take a note down on her phone and send the same text to multiple people after seeing that a piece of paper she pulled out of one small vial of the liquid wore a circle of purple at its tip.

A few different cars arrived at the landfill before Bryan’s. Caroline assured me that I didn’t need to act as a witness and that she would herself make sure to show whoever necessary the giant cone, so I left. I passed Bryan on a quick drive to the liquor store for another smallest non-nip bottle of Evan Williams. I saw on my way back, partially, through the fence, a Broadway fuckplay.

Three hours later I saw the activity at the landfill surface on a social media platform I never thought would speak to me in all my years alone with it. I called Justin and asked if he had any more of the Five-Hour Energy shots he’d won five-hundred of about a year ago and he said no but that he recently bought a four-pack. I asked him how he finished the five-hundred and also if he'd seen on Creep what story I in turn told him in full as I slid drunk into my inherited compact hatchback and rolled it out of the 7-11 parking lot and along the roads leading to his house with sporadic gasoline injections, almost hitting the first car I passed, but functioning soberly thereafter in light of the shock of that near accident, a wake-up call.

We picked up the only other ex-bin-filler in-town on the way to the landfill and I drank a Five-Hour Energy shot. We parked at the fitness center abutting the Hazardous Materials Collection area of the landfill and, more importantly, the far end of the woods through which the precious Heron River flows.

We quickly found the river with my basic sense and pop determination. We followed it upstream. I soon found its intersection point with the then dried-out inlet streambed carved by the then bucketed-off computer water. The fence uphill had already been partially removed by whoever Bob hired to build the wall, which included at least two people I could see uphill wearing white hardhats and breathable dragon-themed workout shirts and sleeping against two mossy trees with their hardhats pulled over their faces and a monarch butterfly laying perfectly still on one of their steel toes. We decided to have a cigarette break before heading up the hill so I reached out into the river from the furthest jutting rock I could find and pulled Justin and Paul out of the knee high water they were standing in and handed them Camels.

I caught up with Paul who I noticed at that point I had picked up in front of a house not his own but that he’d simply been walking near when Justin called him to “chill.” Paul had in fact been living out of his car, which had run out of gas in the Rite-Aid parking lot three days prior. Paul said he was walking back to Rite-Aid from his dealer’s house, to gas his car, when Justin called. “It was cool;” he forgot to borrow a gas can from his dealer, Kalie, anyway. That was cool too; Kalie got his ten gas dollars for Klonopin, anyway. “Ah,” I said.

Something sloshed into the river water and two or three birds shot flapping out of a bush. Paul gave me a Klonopin tablet. I had thirty-five dollars and a gram of ketamine. When I offered Paul and Justin some I was glad to hear they both felt like doing it later, as did I. We hiked up the hill and faced police we told we used to work in the landfill, Paul and Justin under Bryan, “the guy you’re arresting,” and that, “We saw some sketchy stuff when we worked for him,” and “I didn’t work for him, but I’m the one who told” Caroline (“the scientist lady”) about the cone. The cop had no idea about any lady but I caught my own sight of her when he let me “Join your friends over by Officer Boyd, over by that big cone-looking thing. You see it over there, kid?”

Caroline was collating data or something as a skinny man dressed like she was pulled out of the cone by means of a harness and pulley system, by a bulky man also dressed like she. Leaned against the cone, she was flipping through a stack of papers on a clipboard, apparently to scratch alphanumeric strings out and rewrite them in other places in a way that had something to do with the compass in her hand and how a small vial of the computer water looked when held to the unobscured afternoon sunlight. I told Boyd I knew and had to talk to the scientist lady. Betting him I wasn’t lying, I began to walk away backwards and slowly with dual arm gestures, wide eyes, and bouts of teeth-clenching appropriate to a confrontation with a Grizzly bear, into what Boyd warned me (with one arm straight-out saying “Stop!” and the other reaching for either cuffs or a can of mace) was a “Restricted Zone” but I kept moving until I could wave Caroline over frantically to save me from what would probably if not for her intercession have been my arrest.

Her skinny, bulky conservationist squad mates watched us from the peak of the cone till she waved to them that it, I, was nothing. They finished collecting their gear before climbing down to do more outdoor scientist's things like analyze data while sitting in a folding chair in the shade of a single panel tent or flipping up the lenses of their sunglasses to look up and blink dramatically at the sun while wiping their foreheads with front-pocketed khaki handkerchiefs before accurately guessing the time and stating a fact about what that time means for the surrounding wildlife. “The Herons should be feeding soon,” said the skinnier of the two.

She and her crew stopped the leak, she said warmly, and “If you hadn’t reported this, God knows what would have happened.” Officer Boyd holstered his mace and buzzed back to the parking lot in annoyed disinterest in the details of our apparently actual relationship. “Really, thanks.” I said she was welcome. “God knows what could have happened to the river.” I left quickly, but with a big smile and a few kind words, when I saw her squad mates approaching to socialize. I rejoined Justin and Paul, who were speaking with either a detective or a uniform cop who’d forgotten to wear clothing to work that day but had luckily gravedug up a suit before anyone noticed.

The subject of discussion was the office shed, which Bryan was leaned handcuffed against to the left of its once-padlocked door. There were police officers taking turns throwing and breaking things of Bryan’s, two or three to his Baja and three or four to his office shed at a time, while Bryan, staring a million miles through the Earth’s mantle and out into space past a growing collection of opened, mostly less than fifth-full liquor bottles cops pulled from his car and piled by its front-right wheel (and that now seemed the least of his problems), cried.

Detective Berk did not address me or ask me to leave. He spoke only to Justin and Paul about a safe in the office shed. Where’s the key? Had they ever seen its contents? Had they noticed a place Bryan always went after opening it? How about any unusual places he visited?

Paul relayed remembering Bryan chuck an odd stack of big rolled paper and, like, that blue kind of paper for drawing buildings, into his car right before giving all “the boys” the next day off, yeah, the day before the new smashing machine arrived. Yeah, Justin agrees (with delayed illumination Berk pins on Percocet tablets), blinking deeply. Yeah, and then he just drove off.

The town manager’s phone buzzes violently halfway through his line of coke off Goldie’s tanned left buttock and this causes him to blow the remainder all over the bedspread and her right buttock and this causes him to yell “Fuck!” but when he calms down he assures her nothing is wrong, baby, no, not really, and starts licking what cocaine he can off her can before cutting the next line and, oh yeah, checking his phone. From Bryan: “THEY WILL KNOW IN A FEW HOURS.” The television in the room doesn't have a power button and there actually isn't a remote control in the room. His laptop is in his satchel bag but he forgot to bring its charger or didn’t think he’d need to and it has 30% of a charge left. The bible in the nightstand is only twenty pages long and filled mostly with advertisements for local restaurants. One of the four light bulbs at the top of the bathroom mirror glows a strange reddish-yellow (as opposed to orange) and not pearly white like the others. Goldie starts to lean up and look over her shoulder at him. He says “Fine. Fine. Yeah, fine I—” while she says “Are you sure everything’s okay, baby?” looks to his eyes and struggles to make contact with his pupils. His eyes are whiter than they are black and fixed on the unornamented wooden bedpost two-dimensionally, like joke eyes drawn on his eyelids. His mouth hangs slightly open till he pulls himself through her legs, which she moves out of the way, and sets one of his legs down and the other across his knee and starts staring at the very front-top-left corner of the room. All she can see now is the back of his head, which is entirely a dress shirt collar and haircut except for a thin band of folded neck skin and millimeter hints of his very red ears. “Henry.” She waits. “Is everything—” He turns around suddenly to say “Yeah!” and he’s sweating terribly. His face goes into his hands for a second before he swipes against its beading mask of sweat and looks back to the front-top-left corner of the room for a minute before going to the bathroom. Through the cracked door she can watch him towel the sweat from his face between stares into his own eyes, until he sees her watching and closes the door.

After leaving the landfill, we snorted the ketamine in the Rite-Aid parking lot and I gave Paul ten dollars and my gas can. Justin left first and I left second and Paul said he would stay one last night in his parked car.

Days later I cried for an hour in a supermarket when an employee stared me down from stealing cough syrup and I had some epiphany about the cause of my unhappiness. On my way home I passed Paul’s car parked in the same Rite-Aid spot, and then Paul himself some distance into an at least forty-five minute walk back from his dealer and to be honest I wanted to hit him like an injured deer that begs to be, however ignorant of his grotesque look he was, however joyfully he skipped that huge distance to and from his lockbox each day. I had one last burst of crying in the car after spotting Paul where I went “FUH-huh-huh-uck” and had a swollen face and screamed at my windshield on my merry way to my parents’ house until I started into an unsafe delirium that I was able to overcome by not thinking about my feelings. I used to have an active interest in graphic design. Why even vote? The Seinfeld remake is not overrated.

More short fiction and poetry by Ian van Dijk can be found on Things Ian van Dijk likes can be found on A Lagadonian language is one in which objects and properties can stand in as names for themselves.