The People's Garden by Craig M. Workman

Craig M. Workman's character recalls how building a garden in the courtyard of their housing estate brought his mentally disabled neighbour out of his shell and led to a tragic accident involving his much-admired writing mentor.

Friday, 27 April, 6:13 or 6:14 or so. <- (I'm wrong, it's Thursday)

Yesterday I buried my friend, teacher, bookseller, and coffee-drinking buddy. They were all the same person, in case you were wondering. I broke into the apartment a few minutes ago to use Sam's typewriter. This might have been the wrong thing to do. The only way I can even think about him right now is to sit here in his kitchen and type on this rickety old Underwood IV in a chair with wheels that doesn't fit beneath the kitchen table. I've known so many people for so much longer, but I can't say I've owed more to anyone than Sam Kesterson. He never felt sorry for me. He kept me honest, I suppose. And I can't help feeling that he was killed by a fucking garden. Our garden. Elysium Heights' garden.

First of all, I guess I should point out that I feel pretty bad about breaking in here. Well, not really breaking in, but coming in here as much as I have lately. The door's been open since... since it happened on Saturday, and it's... what? Friday, right? No. It's Thursday. Okay. Rolling up the platen, and correcting the date. My mistake. Out of it. Wouldn't have known if I hadn't looked up. Thank you, free stick-on First National Bank calendar on what used to be his green fridge. It's colder than hell in here, and it shouldn't be. It's April, for Christ's sake. Everyone has been coming in and taking stuff they think Sam might have wanted them to have. Not everyone, I guess. That's a lot of people, everyone. Of course, Cavuto came by. I try to tell him through his oversized hearing aid that there's nothing to worry about, that it wasn't his fault. He still leaves huge bundles of ripe rhubarb on Sam's counter just the same. Mrs. Peterson - she's the nice elderly lady with the bad hips over in 6A. She's been in here quite a bit, shuffling around with that chrome-looking walker and the teeny-green watering can that holds two cups of water. The walker creaks and grinds on the floor as she makes trip after slow trip to the sink to fill up her container to water a dead man's plants. There's a green one, a big green one, and a green and red one, all stuffed against the side of the windowsill. They're not his plants anymore, and they aren't hers. Whose plants are they, and why is she even watering them? I'm sure I don't know. And those hats! She's in here more than once a day. The only reason I know that is because I suppose I've been in here more often than I should be since it happened. Mrs. Peterson has so many hats. I always thought it was pretty odd she always had a different hat every time I'd see her. It was always a blue... pill hat, I think you call it, with some sort of red felt flower on it one day, a stark-white fedora the next. Every time she's in here with her toy watering-can, though, she's worn the same small black hat with the mesh from it pulled down over her thick plastic glasses. It doesn't really go with her old plaid robe, tube socks, and puffy slippers. Then again, I'm not much of a style expert. I need to remember to ask her if she wants those plants. She gave them to Sam. They might as well be hers again.

Then there's Marjorie and her son, Charles. She's a skinny, dark-haired, sad-faced woman that looks like she's been rode hard and put away wet. She works a lot, and treats her kid like he's three years old. Always, Charles this-and-that, Charles, be sure to do so-and-so, when he's a pretty capable kid. Sam loved him. Charles isn't the smartest in town, but not the dumbest I've seen either. If you'd seen what I have, you'd know there are plenty slower, and most out there are more mean-spirited. He's just a bit slow, but usually all smiles and curiosity, that kid. That's what he likes to be called: The Kid. Don't ask me why. Charles... The Kid and Marjorie came into the apartment after Sam went. I was here (big surprise), hanging out in the kitchen that day, drinking ice-cold coffee from the same pot that had been hot when Sam and I started in on it. The Kid came in first, limping and sniffling at the tears and snot his face was leaking. His knees were bloodier than a steak, popping red and shiny through the ruined brown corduroys. Marjorie walked in right behind him looking as shell-shocked as her son. She stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. He scrunched his face up so tight, I swear it was going to bleed.

It wasn't my, I mean I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to ma, The Kid said.

Marjorie shot a glance at me over her quivering son's shoulder. I couldn't tell if she was angry with me for being there, or if she was trying to tell me something. I did the best I could to smile, but I don't think it happened. Not many smiley faces lately. I was floating in the kitchen, floating everywhere, floating in a wheelchair. I felt lost. It was at that moment that I looked over at the Underwood on the table and five days later, I started this... letter? What? I don't know. Don't ask me. The Kid turned around that day and screamed holy murder, something I didn't quite understand, but it was loud. She hugged her son as he tried to escape for a moment. Then he stopped struggling, and I remember thinking how strong Marjorie had to be to hold back The Kid. Then, he said something I could make out.

I didn't mean to kill Sam, ma. I didn't mean it.

We were all Sam had in this world, and at least one of us thinks he killed him. How exactly do you talk someone out of that?

More later. I need a drink. Who am I kidding? I need three. Give me liquor, gods of liquor. Do your thing.

Saturday, 28 April, Early.

I first met Sam on a bus in Omaha. What a coincidence! No shit? I said. I couldn't believe he was going to the same apartment complex as I was. I don't have a place there, yet, he said. No, I'll figure it out, he said. What are you reading there? he said. Raymond Carver? Good for you. He's wonderful. To the point. So. You must be writing if you're reading Carver. He was right. I was trying to write. I couldn't figure out how in the hell he would know that from looking at what I was reading. But now I understand. Now I understand a lot more than I did. We talked all the way on the bus. He refused a warm place to sleep that night. I ran into him a few more times before he finally worked up enough cash to get the place. I gave him my bathrobe and my green blanket so he would have something in the place besides the furniture left there by the other guy. It was a housewarming present.

Ok. I've thought about it, and I don't feel guilty for being in here anymore. That super's just gonna throw all his shit out come first of the month anyway. Might as well get some use of it.

Tommy, Sam would have said, you use this stuff. I wasn't raised to look a gift horse in the mouth. I know damn well you weren't either. He would've hit me with a few well-selected, profound things (aphorisms, I think?), probably quoted Keats or Whitman or some other writer like that, then twisted on his weird old Whitman beard and drank more coffee or something. I used to think I was a writer. Then, once I had spent time being tutored, questioned, sold used paperbacks to, shaken his hand a thousand times and scowled at more than that, I knew I wasn't. I wrote more and more each day as I listened to what he showed me. I ripped page after page into long, thin, uniform shreds. That pissed him off. And as you can tell from what the opening paragraph of page one looks like, I never finished my lesson with Sam about strong openings.

Keep the variorum. Make all your work an archive of your process. It will be the only evidence you ever existed. Trust me on this, Tommy.

And then, I believed that - at least in his opinion - I was a writer. And just before the end, I did believe it. Not that I was a good one.

If you drink, you're a drinker. If you breathe through your mouth, you're a mouth-breather. If you bullshit, you're a bullshitter. If you write, you're a writer. To hell with any other opinion on that subject.

He was always saying things like that. And he's right I suppose, even though he isn't here to twist on that beard and push his owl-eye glasses with ex-professorly glee. I'd rather be writing about lost love and misunderstandings and truth with a capital T and fucking and women screwing me that really didn't. Well, except for the women and the fucking, I suppose I am.

I stand self-corrected.

Saturday, 28 April, Two-Something - Afternoon

I've always had the idea that anything typed on a computer, typewriter, or written in a notebook would sort of keep it within itself, as if a life lived might be able to spill out the narrative suddenly if asked to, like an overturned pitcher of sludge on a smooth surface. I know Sam bought this typewriter after his wife died, which was after his novel had been in the running for the National Book Award, and after he walked away from his empty home, his teaching position, and everything he owned but the clothes on his back and a bag full of books, determined to make the world forget how he had drank his way through a novel, a wife, a career, and a life. Or so he told me. I know this was purchased before Sam met The Kid and Marjorie, before he met Mrs. Peterson, the lady with the bad hips, the weird hats, and the green thumb. He bought this before he had sold enough cans and bottles and found tutoring and bookstore jobs to get this apartment in Elysium Heights, shithole of the free-world. I can't help but imagine his tall, lanky, formerly greasy ass sleeping underneath the Wonder Bread Bakery ovens cradling Leaves of Grass, The Daemonic in the Poetry of John Keats, and this typewriter.

And finally, I know he ran across this machine at before it had a fully-functioning platen, and before he ran into me on the bus in Omaha that day. I know he fixed it for nine dollars and change but couldn't fix The Kid's insistence that his dad was going to come down from the sky and save his mom. Sam couldn't take away Marjorie's lung cancer, couldn't fix Mrs. Peterson's hips, the L-3 on my lower spine, or my crappy writing. But he certainly wanted to. Yes he did. And he might have, but for the garden. I'm almost to it, I swear. You'll understand once you know. I'm going to give you as much as I can. The things this typewriter got from him, one word at a time. I can see piles of pages underneath this table on the floor, and I can't even touch them. If this machine could feel, would it hate me for being a poor substitute for him? Yes. I imagine it would. Mrs. Peterson's back for the watering, and I have to take a piss.

Sunday, 29 April, 4:15 p.m.

Tomorrow's the last day this place will still be called Sam's Place. Need to figure that one out. Still a lot of his stuff left. The Kid came in. He rooted around for half an hour or so. He's still limping, but not nearly as bad as he was the other day. I figured he would take a few things with him, but instead, he left something. He set a piece of blue paper on the floor next to the windowsill.

Hey kid, I said. You've got it backwards. What's that?

The Kid jumped at the sound of my voice. He saw it was me, and managed half a smile. That was the first one of those I'd seen in days and days.

I just wanted to give him this it's a card I made it myself. It's a card.

I couldn't think of anything worthwhile to say, anything that would make him feel better. Instead, I just grinned and gave a 'thumbs up'. Sam would've known just what to say to The Kid. He always knew just what to say to everyone I'd ever seen him around. Then again, if Sam were here, there wouldn't be any reason to have to comfort any of us. No reason at all. The Kid gave me a double thumbs-up in return, and his half-smile grew to a full-force toothy grin. He saluted me like a drunken sailor, and then limped out Sam's front door. After a few echoes of footsteps, I heard him attempt to run as he usually did everywhere, a stumbling sound, then a return to the clip-clump of a kid with a pair of skinned knees that almost had a crushed head. I grabbed a pencil and paper and rolled outside the door. I found The Kid down the hall and worked over the finer points of tic-tac-toe with him for a few hours. He was getting pretty good at that game.

I hadn't ever heard of guerilla gardeners before. A few days before The Kid was given his tools, a bunch of guerilla gardeners planted a small garden in the middle of the night in the C down below our windows. After asking around, I figured out that they're groups of over-monied people in search of a cause. It's illegal to plant things like that on property owned by the city, so they do it as quickly as possible, under cover of night. It's supposed to be a call to return to the natural state of things, or to gentrify crumbled-down, fucked up neighborhoods, or something. I'm not making this up. People really do that. Sam and I saw it first one morning. It was a little plot in the middle of the great big open plot in the middle of the Heights with a few things planted here and there (I didn't know what they were called then, but now I know they were Black-Eyed Susans, Waterslip, and Dracaena). There was a cardboard sign crucified on a wooden lathe that said:


We looked at each other and laughed. We ran into Mrs. Peterson the same day, and Marjorie that night, and asked them if they knew we were a cause. A fucking cause.

We all decided we weren't too happy being a cause. We kind of left it alone for the next few days, with the exception of looking out at it to see if we had been re-guerilla-ed each morning. We hadn't been.

Then, two months ago, The Kid was on his daily errands, which meant travelling to the few occupied apartments in this place and knocking on each person's door as hard as he would. You'd usually open your door to find him practicing his karate kicks and punches, or whatever they were, and for the longest time, it seemed as if he didn't know you were there. When he finally did notice you, I don't think he remembered why he was there. Then he'd adjust that filthy orange coat he always wore - rain or shine - and let you know how important it is to have a great day. On this day, it seemed that his usual Kid Script had been rewritten. Look at it, look at it! Tommy, wheel over to my place, Tommy! Come and see it it's great Tommy!

The Kid darted down the hall toward his mother's apartment. It took me a moment to put together what he'd said: IT. Why not? I figured I was in between stories right now, and Sam was at the bookstore, earning his seven dollars perhour, so why not? I threw on my sweater and wheeled out my door. I could hear Charles clumping around in his living room all the way at the end of the corridor, so there was little doubt he had been playing a joke on me. One time, he had me convinced he had cut his thumb off. He was cradling his fist, bent over, red liquid moving down that orange coat and onto the hallway floor in a steady stream. And needless to say, he was screaming. My god, how he could scream. When I had finally squeaked over close enough to check it out, he laughed so hard a substantial glob of snot shot out his nose. You would've thought I'd smell the sweetness of grenadine and figured it out, but that was Charles. The Kid would prove you wrong. He was slow, but once in awhile, he proved you wrong. I reached his doorway, because I wanted to 'see it'. I didn't expect to see him standing there, holding a pile of old gardening tools by the worn wooden handles. He laughed, and tried to lift them off the living room floor. They nearly all fell, and his poor attempt to catch them left me too laughing. The Kid lay on his ugly green carpet, clanking amidst a rusty hoe, a shovel, a post-hole digger, a spade, and a few other things I couldn't name, all metal heads with splintery handles of varying lengths. When he'd finally been able to get out of the tool tangle, he picked up what looked to me like a pitchfork and yelled:

The People's Garden! It's going to be the People's Garden in the C! In the C we should, come on we should Tommy! Mrs. Peterson gave 'em to me 'cause her hips and she used to run an abbititum and we should, Tommy! She has some seeds and she's gonna get some more seeds let's build the People's Garden in the C!

Of all the things he could've possibly surprised me with; I think I would've expected a beheading before gardening tools. The People's Garden? In the C? I think I said something like,

We'll see, Kid. I saw his dropped bottom lip, and I could tell he was a man on a mission. Or a Kid, at any rate. Tell you what, I said. We'll plant some more stuff in The C. How about that, Charles? He gave me a grin through the handle of the pitchfork-thing, which he was holding upright between his eyes as if preparing for battle. Then he scowled, and blinked at me. Kid, I mean. There was just no getting around him. He could surprise you.

The C was probably one of the worst places you could imagine in an urban setting. I say was, because, as you might figure out, we did all plant. Two days after my conversation with The Kid, the temperature jumped up to the low seventies, without a single goddamn cloud in the sky. That's what I get for underestimating Charles. I suppose I thought he would forget. Mrs. Peterson helped organize the seeds and make a grid of where to plant and when, according to sunlight, soil composition, acidity, and about twenty other factors I didn't know had anything to do with gardening. As it turns out, The Kid meant 'arboretum' when he was talking about what she used to do; evidently, the old lady ran one of the biggest ones in the state in her day. All I know about an arboretum is that is has something to do with plants and people coming to check out how cool and healthy they are. Back to the point. Mrs. Peterson had an old pulley at her window. You know, one of those they used to run laundry lines across before I was born? She dropped clothesline down to The Kid, and he ran it to through a steel eyelet sticking out of the wall of the C. When something needed to be done differently, we heard the buzz of the line, followed by a scrap of paper attached to the line by a wooden clothespin. It would say, Let Marjorie help you with yankin those weeds! Or Come on boy! That hoe ain't gonna set its own rows! Come on! The People's Garden, remember? Put a little elbow grease into it! Marjorie or I or Sam read this to him, and he always giggled loudly when the message had been read. He waved his hoe, or rake, or muddy hand like it was on fire up at the window, and Mrs. Peterson always removed the strange colorful hat she was wearing that day out the window a few times, as if to say Alright then, Charles. You know what you're doing. Show all those others you know what you're doing. All this she did from her window, which overlooked the C, an inside sort of courtyard made from the inside walls of Elysium Heights. Before we began our project, all of the C except for the guerilla-garden was filled with weeds, trash, old car parts, and once - last September - the decomposing body of Stevie Duchamp, the neighborhood speed-freak. No one knew anything. It seems he accidentally fell on a knife several times. So that was the C. Windows for several stories on three sides, and no one saw who ventilated Stevie or seemed to care about what went on there. At least, they didn't until March first of this year. It kind of looked like this, if you were somehow floating in a balloon or something above the place:

Like I was saying, everyone was helping. I don't think Marjorie really wanted her son to get this thing going, but The Kid was kind of like that. You really had a hard time saying no to him. Besides, what the hell harm was it going to do? It beat the nastiness of what was there to begin with, and it was something for us all to keep ourselves occupied with. If nothing else, I think it kind of chapped us to think about these rich-fuckers feeling sorry for us and assuming a six-by-six-foot garden would solve our problems. Thank you very much, you L.L. Bean-wearing pricks. Now we have flowers to look at. Everything's perfect. Why don't you buy us some groceries and a mocha latte while you're at it?

It felt nice to be outside and let the sun warm you. It'd been one hell of a long time since I'd gone outside for the sake of going outside. Know what I mean? Maybe you don't. Sam helped as well, but he seemed to creak along. When our lessons began to happen less and less, I thought about bringing it up, and then thought better of it. Like Sam, I didn't really come outside unless there was a reason. And by reason, I mean rolling to Spivey's for a pint for me, and hobbling to one of two jobs for him. He grabbed a shovel and helped to move dirt whenever he could, pressed down the seed rows with his huge feet when the mornings weren't too cold to seize up his joints. That's a funny part of it, especially now. I remembered feeling sorry for Sam and his old joints. Then I would think about me rolling my chair through the dirt, stopping every two or three feet to pick clods of weedy soil from my spokes. At least he could walk. And when it finally went down, I found myself wishing I could have been him, in at least one way.

The C became so much better in a short amount of time. It wasn't like in those movies. You know the ones where they turn a piece of crap house into a mansion because everyone kicks in, and then everyone sings 'We Are The World'? No. It wasn't like that. But what started out as a few rows of lettuce, jumpstart tomatoes called 'Jet Star' and 'Better Boy', and some Marigold seeds Mrs. Peterson said would keep out the squirrels became - well, it became more. I've never even seen a squirrel in this part of the fucking city. If they ever do come around here, I hope they're packing heat. Anyway, we all did as Mrs. Peterson said, because she was - as I was told by her more than once - an arborist. Well, there you go. Experts in the dying places of the world. For about three weeks, we labored under the assumption that we were creating the People's Garden to please The Kid, to please ourselves, and to get a little bit of happiness in a place and time that wasn't the happiest for most of us. Maybe it was just something to do. I don't really know.

I took the service elevator out one morning not so long ago to find many more than I was used to seeing in the garden. I remember wondering if someone had been shot or stabbed or just made dead in our garden. What a shame, I thought. Just figures. We finally clean this piece of work up and the lettuce gets watered by some idiot's bodily fluids. But that day, men, women, and lots of children from up and down the boulevard had seen what we were working on, and had decided to help. I don't know what it became, but we began seeing exotic plants planted in strange peats and weird-colored soil in boxes set in the C. Before you knew it, someone had transplanted two-foot-high leeks at the south end, and had quite a run within a few days of the planting. I saw what looked to be people close to my age at all hours of the day and night (through my window; I still don't sleep so well since I lost my abilities) spraying stuff on the flowers and vegetables. Always adding. A spare railroad-tie bed at this end. A homemade windmill and wind chime hanging from picture-wire overlooking the second-floor sills there. During the daytime, between writing lessons with Sam and his jobs, I would see more and more wooden tongue-depressors sticking in newly-made rows of soil. Each day, more of these sticks seemed to just shoot up out of the ground, bearing words written in black marker like Bunching Onion-White Lisbon, Kentucky Wonder String Beans, Calabash Bok-Choy, Cucumber-Straight-8, and so on. I kept trying to wheel my way through the rows. Sam dug and yanked weeds and picked things that shouldn't be mature by this date (according to the queen arborist in the window) and filled old milk crates to pass out to the neighborhood. And what do you know, Sam actually began to grin a bit. I don't know how much he smiled before I met him. It doesn't matter, but I noticed it as much as I noticed the first sign of a tan I'd ever seen on someone of his age. Throughout this entire transformation, The Kid moved throughout the rows, watching over things like a foreman. He laughed and told his jokes whenever he decided it was time to. He quit walking and dug down into the dirt with the others for hours at a time, then walked for days without so much as helping. It was the first and only time I saw him in charge of anything. The funniest thing about this is that anywhere else, it would've seemed cheesy and pointless. Here, I guess it just made sense. Between those watching and directing with clothesline and those helping, it seemed we were all there together. From my point-of-view, it may be that this is largely because of Sam. I might be wrong about that, and that's ok. It just seems that - while The Kid got all this started - none of this would have happened to a single one of us if we hadn't had the privilege to meet Sam. That's how I see it.

That last morning was on a Sunday. I was in my chair at the edge of the rows, peeling one hell of a big bunch of green onions back from their dirty outer skins. I was thinking of a massive salad later with Marjorie and Charles, Mrs. Peterson, Sam and myself. The original crew. The only other two in what had become a one-hundred-fifty by two-hundred foot garden was Sam and The Kid. Sam wouldn't have been out that morning. As he walked out the door and slapped me on the shoulder, he said,

The pipes are groaning like Grendel, and I can't sleep. Might as well dig, eh?

I think those last words won't ever leave me. The reference wasn't lost on me, and it would've been before I met him. I now knew who Grendel was. Sam went to work picking sucker limbs from the tomatoes and The Kid ran inside the security-door opening. He came back a minute later, jiggling across the rows with a large piece of cardboard taped to a wrist-wide stick the length of my old legs. The cardboard was hugging and opening with each gallop of Charles' running, and reminded me of an upright seagull trying to fly in a direction it never should have tried to. He ran well past Sam, kept running to where the garden met the boulevard. Then, he stopped so suddenly he nearly toppled onto the sign. I imagined a vampiric death-by-stake, and was happy to see my imagination had run away with me. The Kid raised the sign over his head by the stick, and jammed it ceremoniously into the soil so that the writing upon it could be viewed by passers-by on the street. Much later, I discovered that the large sign read:


Sam made his way around toward the street to read the sign. As I already said, I was near the door. Had I known, I would've been wheeling that way a long time before. There was a smaller sign taped underneath the piece of cardboard, and it blew away just as Sam was nearing the street. The Kid darted for it as it bounced onto the boulevard, and - in that moment - I wished more people had been there to help me see what was happening, so that it wasn't all on me.

Cavuto has come by once since the accident, and I can't believe he's been anywhere near us since then. He didn't mean to do it, and I would never think he did. A thing is what it is, and it sucks no matter how you slice it.

It all could've never happened had it been a few seconds before or after, but it did happen. Charles made for his small sign in the street as the Ready-Rhubarb Truck jammed down the boulevard. From where I sat, I could see the truck heading down the road at high-speed, moving toward The Kid as he tried to save the piece of cardboard. In an instant, Sam clipped quicker than I thought an old man could clip. I might've screamed, but I really can't say for sure. I do know my hands were on my wheels, cranking for all I was worth, but I seemed to be stuck in the dirt. Then I was on my belly, dragging and pulling through tomato hoops, tongue-depressors and peat mounds. I stuck my head up through the garden just in time to see Sam half-limping, half-sprinting toward The Kid. The founder of the People's Garden stood a few feet from the squeal of the truck's smoking tires and the rush of the steel moving toward flesh. Sam ran faster than anyone should and he shoved, and he fell.

The sound was horrible. I couldn't tell which was machine, which was the crunching of a person. After the fact, I had to ask Cavuto to make sure I didn't imagine what I thought I saw. I'll probably never be as well-read on things and books and stuff as Sam was, but something sticks out in my mind. There was something in my memory he once said to me that, strangely enough, I understand now. As he saved The Kid's life, I saw Sam in the way of that immense truck for that last moment, and he looked right at me from not so far away at all. And I'll swear for the rest of my life the truth of it - he died with his eyes wide open, and a calm smile on his face. The Kid lay against the curb trying to walk his messed-up kneecaps off and figure out what the fuck happened to his fellow gardener, I had somehow dragged myself to the curb. Sam was still looking at something, though it was at something not in this world. Only one of his eyes was open now, and his neck was turned at an impossibly strange angle. My dirty hand brushed against the small rusty garden fork Mrs. Peterson had given him, bent and scrunched against the front tire of the Ready-Rhubarb Truck. His glasses - I noticed - were embedded in the upright grill of the steel, and The Kid was trying to pull them out. All he could say was that thing we all later tried to say.

I didn't mean to Sam I didn't mean to Sam. Oh, man oh Sam please come back. Please come back, Sam. Please come back. I'll be good.

Please come back.

Monday, 30 April, afternoon.

The super came by again today. Fuck that asshole. I have to love the way the people that benefit from cash are so understanding of loss. Pretty heartfelt, really. These people are absolute gems. Threatened to have his movers roll me out themselves. Before he left, he dropped off several gallons of new paint, and a huge, two-man roll of knock-off Berber Carpet. What a nice man. Guess I'll have to grab and go.

Tuesday, 1 May, Who knows what time?

I'm sitting in my apartment, adding to your memory from my place and my atmosphere now. I don't know if he would have wanted me to have you, or the stacks of pages I stole from under the shitty little kitchen table, but I can't think about that right now. I suppose I have a few early hours of writing - of now self-instruction - to go, and then I have to go find The Kid and work on more tic-tac-toe.

There were candles burning today. I think it's those Guerilla Gardeners and community activists, and maybe a few others. I think I get why Mrs. Peterson was wearing the black hat with her robe and other things now. I've always been kind of slow at figuring that shit out, I guess. As far as I know, I'm all that's left to write and tell what happened. I don't think I'm important, and I probably never will. I just know that a few very important people let me try things, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let a new tenant or a rushing by of unexpected steel wash all that away. Not when I have a working typewriter and a few decent neighbors.

The garden is kinda falling apart. It's weedy, and from the news crews and all the curious jackasses walking all over the place, I don't know if it's gonna be savable. Where were they when The Kid was out in the fucking street? Everything's trampled. I can still see my wheel tracks in the dirt, and I just don't want to do it anymore, at least right now. Well, maybe I am done with it. The difference between an after-school special and this is that this really happened, and it isn't over yet. I miss the old man. I got started with him and he helped me figure out what my next move was supposed to be. And here I go with the rest of it.


  1. this really is marvellous. I just loved the writing style, the characters and the descriptions , the sadness. The loss of something that gets you thru the day.
    First Class.

    Michael McCarthy

  2. Emotional and heartfelt. The characters are alive. (Well, except for Sam.) As with Michael I really enjoyed the writing style. Well done!

  3. Outstanding. Great depth and emotion. Quiet emotion. Keep writing.