They sit in his man cave, the room that has been his for over 11 years. Beer and bud flow smoothly between them and the music plays as they look at each other, but words are nil, until she speaks up.
“Goddamn it, what is this place? Look at it!”
She mentions the clutter, calls it out piece by piece.
“I see 5 pair of boots here. What is up with the broken radio controlled truck? Do you really need that broken down scooter? It’s been here for 5 years! Why do you have 11 curvy rum bottles? What do you plan to do with the 3 broken blenders? Do you really need 6 tackle boxes?
He doesn’t say a word.
Well, the first days are the hardest days.
She looks around again. Takes it all in.
“Do you know that, at one swift glance, I see 3 very expensive hats in here? 8 outrageously priced fishing poles? 2 space heaters? $2000 worth of framing equipment that hasn’t been used in years? An untouched table saw?”
Again, he says nothing.
What I want to know, is are you kind?
“Those paint cans have been here since we bought this house 11 years ago. WHY are they still here?”
She looks up and sees the crates he has suspended from the ceiling. She has no idea what in the world he has stored up there.
“Baby, honestly, you have 3 strobe lights in here. We’ve never used them once. I thought I told you to recycle those pots and pans? Do you REALLY need 8 radio speakers?
You know all the rules by now and the fire from the ice. Will you come with me? Won’t you come with me?
“The air cannon I get, baby, I really do. But do you honestly need to keep all the parts you discarded after you built it? WHY ARE YOUR DIRTY SOCKS STILL ON THE FLOOR?”
He’s silent, letting her rant away.
“I know, darling, that WD-40 is the answer to everything that duct tape is not, but do you really need 12 cans? Why are there 11 plastic shot cups? And did you REALLY dig those bottles of my nail polish out of the trash to paint your fishing lures? REALLY?”
Their motto is, “Don’t tread on me.”
“I see your drafting kit. Those pens are 20+ years old. Yes, I know they still work. Yes, I know they matter, but can’t you put them in a drawer? And what about the oil filters and bottles of antifreeze and the 3 weedeaters and SERIOUSLY??? You honestly NEED 3 boxes of steel wool?”
Again, he utters not a word.
Come with me or go alone…
“Sweetheart, I love you. I respect that you have a need for everything, but truly? We live in tornado alley. That work bench could kill an entire city. 42 open containers of nuts, bolts, screws, and nails, NOT TO MENTION the 5 open faced tool boxes and the 200lb steel Craftsman box. Baby, this is a death trap!”
She looks at him. She pleads with him. She begs him to give her an answer.
Not a word does she hear.
Ain’t no time to hate. Barely time to wait.
She looks at him and she softens. The love for him overwhelms her and suddenly things disappear. She stands before him and slowly reaches out to touch him.
First is the box that holds the steel bottle of cheap vodka and water, the last thing to touch his lips. And his phone, the last contact he had with her, now crushed, burned and ruined.
She kisses them both.
Whoa, what I want to know, is where does the time go?
She reaches down and puts her hands into him. This part of him, in the second box, is in paint cans. The remains of his clothes, the steel toes of his boots, the pockets of his insulated jeans. Once upon a time, she used to put her hands in these same pockets to playfully grab his ass.
I can hear your voice. Oh, what I want to know, how does the song go?
She moves her hands down further. There is his wallet. Three hundred and 2 ruined dollars. Burned credit cards. A singed fishing license. A picture of her, burned so that only her eyes show. His license to drive, leather seared onto the edges. A stocking cap. A pack of smokes. A lighter. 2 quarters. 3 grocery store receipts. An ashy paycheck.
“Oh, my love,” she says, ” I don’t give a shit about the clutter. I love you endlessly, regardless of anything else. As long as we’re together, we’re okay.”
Come on along or go alone, he’s come to take his children home.
And she slowly stands and takes off her clothes and opens the last box. She removes the heavy black parcel and opens it up once again. And then, as the song ends, she zips up the body bag to her shoulders to lay with him one more time.
Come hear Uncle John’s band by the river side. Got some things to talk about here beside the rising tide.
The waves wash over her and carry her to a new shore. She loves him more than ever. She gets up. Puts him back in his boxes, his new home, and turns the light off, leaving the clutter untouched.