Bostan, MA USA
A shadow covered the east side of their home and it was now dark in the living room when previously it was hot and sunny in there. Jimmy opened the window and let the cool air blow in. It was the middle of the night which woke Helen, his girlfriend. Jimmy thought he saw trees from the woods pulling themselves out of the ground, their roots torn off, screaming. They had scampered around the yard in a low rumble and then jumped the height of the house, injecting into the ground. The trees now created a beautiful shaded area covering the east window, keeping their living room comfortable and cool.
He had sold his home in Millersville in order to buy this new house, a new commitment for both of them. He had sold his home in Millersville in order to buy this new house, a new commitment for both of them. You knew Helen didn’t mind if the money was split, as long as they were both happy. He loved her, especially her hair, which she wore in bangs, like freshly made pasta, hanging to dry. What was love anyway? It was nothing you really found. It was more like some meteor falling from the sky and striking you without warning.
Jimmy pulled into the driveway when The Twist came on the radio. He pushed the volume arrow up on the car stereo, so he could hear Chubby Checker over the sound of the twisting trees. Some of the weaker branches crashed to the ground as Jimmy kept the radio on and observed his castle. “The grass looks healthy,” he had said to Helen. “Yes, we’ve had a lot of rain,” Helen added. Jimmy got out and danced by himself, ignoring the inconvenient flow of falling leaves and twigs. A small one drilled its way into his arm. “This is really a nice day,” she said. Inside the house a strong Oak branch had broken the window and reached inside to unpack one of her boxes of books. A syringe fell out.
Jimmy didn’t tell her that he had started again. “I guess I forgot to do my homework,” she said.
Later that weekend, as they sat on the deck and the sun set, the Checker song played again from the radio, “Come on everybody, let’s do the twist.” Jimmy awkwardly twisted some splinters out of the deck into his foot. He went out like a light.
By the time Monday rolled around more trees had jumped over the fence into their yard.
“That’s fucking amazing,” Jimmy yelled. “Check that out,” he yelled to Helen while he read the town’s recycling rules. “I’m going to have to put the information in my goddamn computer. I couldn’t imagine having to keep track something like that! I don’t think I can do it. Plastics…glass…cardboard…. …magazines….leaves…wood…me!”
“You’re right honey. It’s a lot to keep up with. We’ll get used to it, I hope, even if it is a huge fucking hassle!” she replied.
* * *
Mrs. Peaitch rang the doorbell. It was the first visit from any of their new neighbors. She wore a black hooded robe. Mrs. Peaitch shook Jimmy’s hand, noticed the veins were as hard as wood.
“Welcome to the neighborhood. I see my Dogwood has made it over here,” Mrs. Peaitch said. “Sure it has,” Jimmy said, noticing it for the first time. “That one has a certain glow,” Jimmy said and winked, which struck Mr. Peaitch strange.
“Well I’m just glad most of the leaves are gone. Any extra yard work will just mean more things to do.”
“Oh, is that so?” Mrs. Peaitch added noticing a fly buzzing around the foyer. It buzzed and struck the light bulb that was hanging over Jimmy’s head. She wondered if it would knock itself out and fall directly onto Jimmy’s bald head, which had been uptooted and glowed from the illumination of the bulb. It was incorrect wattage.
“Death’s a bitch,” Jimmy said. “You notice all the yard work and that I’ve painted the shutters.” He pointed past a new Elm. Jimmy ground his teeth as Helen appeared behind him in the doorway. He turned his back on Mrs. Peaitch, and walked close to Helen. “Some people don’t understand my habits,” he said under his breath as Helen introduced herself to her new neighbor. “It’s very nice to meet you,” she smiled, while shaking her hand.
As the weeks flew by, Jimmy added more yard work to his regimented schedule, a tarp to catch leaves that feel from the moving trees and turned brown. His arms grew and grew, led by the veins which were the size of railroad tracks. He kept on the schedule as all he wanted to do was stay high.
“Why you’re doing so much!” Helen said.
“Trying to impress the neighbors,” he said. “I never thought this would require so much work.”
Jimmy was finding it difficult to find enough open ground with all the new trees to spread his tarp flat. When another tree touched down it had to wedge its way between other trees, with Jimmy’s arms–now bruised, battered and spanning twenty feet– stretched between the trunks. “I thought you were having some problems with that tarp,” Mrs. Peaitch said to him from over her sunny fence.
“I’m having as many problems as a man in debt needing to win the lottery.” Jimmy heard the trees laughing.
“I’d just be careful is all I’m saying. You never know about numbers….it’s all a crap
shoot.” Jimmy reached from between the trees to the fence and patted the top of her hood. Mrs. Peaitch didn’t move.
Jimmy continued to work, but he couldn’t stop what he was doing. He added more and more reps until his eyes nodded and his arms were heavy and warm. The trees landed on him and Jimmy had no place to go, his wooden arms could only be raised straight up and they grew into the sky. He heard Helen faintly calling for him, like she was in another world. Mrs. Peaitch told him to come to her quick and she pulled him by his arms, a shot straight to heaven.