Friday, February 12, 2010


The guy who rents the house across the street washes his car every day. Sometimes, he washes it more than once. And periodically, throughout the day, he will come out with a rag and a spray bottle to wipe away some invisible speck or blemish or to do just a little more polishing. I know, because I work from home, and I see him out there when I’m sitting at my desk in the study.

He parks on the street, rather than in the driveway, even though he risks receiving a ticket from the city ordinances. Trees, you see, hang over the driveway. And trees, of course, have pollen. And pollen, well, pollen would fall on the car, and then he’d have to come out, immediately, to wash the car.

I wonder how much difference it would make for him to park in the driveway. As I say, he washes his car every day, regardless. The pollen wouldn’t be on his car for very long.

I went outside to talk with him, one day. I told him he could call me Marty, and he told me I could call him Jim. We went through the usual introductory topics. The talking was easy, and Jim was good at it.

He told me he used to be in marketing. Everyone around him was being laid-off, so he quit the big company and now mainly did consulting. He and his wife had separated. She was still living in Westchester because she had gotten the house. Things were amicable between them. They still talked on the phone. They had gotten married too young, he said. But they were still good friends.

He had two daughters, Lauren and Amanda, and they both went to college in New Jersey. He was going to visit them that afternoon, as a matter of fact, once he got done with some other stuff he had to do.

I told him this and that about me, and about my job, and about my family.

"You happy, Marty?" he said.

I thought for a moment or two. "Yeah, Jim. I think I’m pretty happy. You?"

"Not really," he said. He leaned over to pick a pine needle out from between the windshield wipers. "But you gotta keep your perspective on things."

We talked some more, and then I went back inside. It started to rain, and the drops were loud against the roof.

Later that night, when I was done with my work and my wife had come home, and the kids had all been put to bed, I looked out of the window in my study, again.

Jim’s car was still there. I wondered if he was going to New Jersey or if he had changed his mind because it was too late.


  1. You do have to keep your perspective on things. But happiness is really just a myth created by the MAN. There really is only the DARK ABYSS!

  2. I think he killed himself!!! This totally reads like a suicide. Good job, Marty.

  3. Damian, is this the flash-fiction piece? It definitely gets my vote out of your last 3 submissions. Publish it!!!

  4. I am waiting patiently for more brilliance...When am I going to get some?

  5. Great piece. At the end, I pictured that scene fading to grey. It's pretty cool.