Friday, November 11, 2011

201/365 --Playlist Story-- inspired by "Cutdown" by Matt & Kim

They cruised slowly along the road looking for the perfect house. Ronnie drove, nervous that his grandmother, Cybil, would criticize his driving, but she gazed out the side window of the van, stroking her minature poodle Mitsy, who snored on her lap. The day, just beginning, was gray and tender--there was a coolness in the air, but not yet brisk. Autumn was being hesitant.

Ronnie stopped at a stop sign.

"What are you doing?" asked Cybil, scratching her fleshy cheek but not looking at him.

"It's a stop sign."


"But it's a stop sign. You're supposed to stop."

"I didn't raise you to be stupid. Why are you being stupid?" She turned to him and shot out a withering look.

"Fine," he said sarcastically. He released the brake and pressed the gas and shot through the dead intersection. The van lurched alone and the trailer smacked against its hitch.

"Don't you get smart with me," admonished Cybil. "That's my job. You're still too young to be jaded and snarky."

"Can we just look for a place?" sighed Ronnie.

"I am," said Cybil, exasperated. "All these places have been done already."

"They still have to come down. We can just pick one."

"I'm not tearing down someone else's art."

"Yeah but it's got to be done sometime."

"I'm not arguing about this, young man. There are still fresh places we could do."

"Ugh, it's just takes soooo long to do this--"

"Oh hey, look at that!" exclaimed Cybil. Mitsy woke up and put her paws on the window and growled. "Hush now."

Cybil rolled down the window and waved. Ronnie stopped the car. Cybil leaned out of the window and admired the house before her. There were two painters working on scaffolding. They shouted back a cheerful greeting.

"Now isn't that clever!" said Cybil to the painters. "Put the van in park," she said gruffly to Ronnie, before getting out of the car and dropping Mitsy daintily to the torn up asphalt.

"You gotta view it from the other sidewalk!" yelled one of the painters pointing.

Cybil ran around the front of the van and stood on the sidewalk, directly across from the house.

"Wow," she said. "Come look at this Ronnie."

Ronnie reluctantly exited the warm van. He stood next to his grandmother and rubbed his eyes blearily. The painters were filling in a mural that camouflaged the house against it's surroundings, including the overcast dawn sky.

"Yeah, that's cool," he said coldly.

"Now that's what I call real art. Not like some of the pieces here. People get too wrapped up in pretentiousness and forgo the simpler ideas. Yeah, I like this one." Cybil slapped her hands together.

"It's gonna suck when it's a sunny day though," said Ronnie.

"It's never a sunny day in Detroit anymore. Not in a lot of places. Not for a long time."

"It's a good thing people don't live in these stupid single-family houses anymore then. I hate must have sucked when they didn't have a choice."

"Yeah, it kind of did...but I'm glad I don't have to spend all my time inside one of those megastructures. Living and working and playing all in the same hundred stories or so. You don't ever see any new scenery. It's better to be out in air when you can. Maybe in a few decades this will all be parkland  or farmland again."

"All these pieces will be gone though."

"Well, nothing lasts forever, does it? Come on. We should be going."

After waiting for Mitsy to relieve herself in the weeds by a rusted-through fire hydrant they piled back into the van and pulled away. After another half hour of passing burnt out husks, a sculpture of a lumberjack made of green copper piping, one saltbox that had been flipped completely upside-down, a slew of the usual graffitied affairs, and a henge made entirely of furnaces, they found a single story bungalow that hadn't been claimed by anybody. They got out and Ronnie unhitched the trailer, pushing it up onto the overgrown lawn. He peeled back the canvas that covered it and tipped out the dew that had collected inside the empty cavity. Cybil unlocked the back of the van and she and Ronnie surveyed the array of tools.

"Sledgehammers?" asked Cybil. She passed Ronnie his hardhat which had a fake mohawk made of plastic brush bristles and the letter 'R' emblazoned with flashing LEDs, and donned her own, which was pink and pasted with silver glitter and had a ponytail of long pink nylon hair jutting out of the back.

"I'm still not awake. Can't we just use the C4?"

"For shame! On a little house like this? That's wasteful."


"Not if you're tired."

"I really don't want to use the sledges. Seriously."

"Well, we could do a contained fire, but I don't think our permit is up-to-date."

"Crowbars. Let's just do the crowbars."

"And maybe later the sledges?"

"Sure grandma."

They pulled out the crowbars and walked up to the house. They took up positions at opposite corners of the front of the house.

"Five, four, three, two..." shouted Cybil. Ronnie couldn't help but start to grin, "!"

They smashed the siding with long practiced strokes, and wood splintered magnificently into the air.

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