Pushing Blood


It’s rainy and mushy out. Sometimes when it is like this I think of the past. It’s not in a nostalgic sense that I think of it- but rather I just think of it. There are some emotions- but they are compartmentalized, safely put away for time in their proper place.

I wonder where the people are from some of the old times. I don’t know any of them anymore too much. Some of them, believe it or not, are even dead.

I remember him, the welder, and unofficial foreman, and that he passed away when I moved here ten years ago. He was like an uncle, and had known me since I was in high chairs. He had this strange thing that had happened. He believed, and I don’t know if it was true or not- that someone had a curse placed upon his family. Clumps of hair and some bones were found numerous times on his porch. Tell me about it, I would say then, knowing that he had been outlining the events for others. You are too young to understand things like this, was all he would offer. Curse or not, things sure went wonky in the last years of his time on earth.

The wife after a life together, decided to kick him out, – and everyone closed ranks against him. His eldest son wanted only the household and the money- and it was the daughters that stuck with him in spirit. He used to come stay with me- how Kara hated it, this intrusion. This little man that she did not know or have any history with, a senior citizen by then. We had no room really, – but the small basement was finished. He used to go in down there and politely ask me to turn up the heat- because it was still cold. He used to try and bring fruit in order to not come empty handed- and then the fruit would have fruit flies- and Kara would say, Nice. Now we have a strange man living in our basement, and fruit flies also.

I think, as I thought then, that he was playing the martyr just a little bit. By this I mean I felt that he was not telling his family where he was, – and expecting them to come looking for him, to have some sympathy.

Nobody came around that I can recall.

He had told me that once he entered his home, he sat in a chair and his wife was to do whatever he asked. If he required a glass of water, – it was delivered to his hand. So, I thought to myself, She probably built up so much resentment over the decades and decided to mess with you once and for all and get you out. But you somehow can’t see it and are proud of your ways still, – as you are stuck here on a Saturday afternoon when you should be somewhere else…

But I had feeling for him. He was from the shop also- so I was, though I did not think of it consciously, doing right by some proletariat notion of rightness or support. I remember presently- writing this- some of his hobbies. Now, – he himself was quiet, unassuming, polite, and safe. He was slowed by then, – a train chugging along past its hey-day. In the coming years he would have heart attack and recover. But then, he was, if not spry, then at the least not without any major health concerns. He liked strippers and wrestling. Actually wrestling, the WWF, came first, and then strippers a close second.

So he would ask if he could watch the WWF- and while I read Al Purdy or something like that- he would be watching Rowdy Randy Piper or Hulk Hogan or whomever. Whenever I did look up, I would see someone bleeding from the head and being banged into the ropes or upon some object like a chair.

Want a plum? He would ask.

No thanks. I am good.

A peach then?

No. Thanks anyhow.

You should eat more fruit, he would caution, I notice you hardly eat any fruit.

So he would munch into his fruit,-eyes back on the television. In his glory because, though obviously scripted, the wrestlers were spilling some good blood.

And after work- he would be going to ‘Caddies,’ which was the name of the place with the women, all the time- probably almost every day. I mean- he made a lot of money. But he was like a kid going somehow, rather than a dirty old man. Hard to explain the nuance of that- not an excuse- but there is was. One got the impression that he had been waiting his whole life for something so magical. And now, – by freedom and law, by choice and even in a sort of ‘good conscience,’ he could go see these women- stilettos and neon bathing suits.

Then just stilettos.

And in that industrial corridor on the outskirts of the larger city, I always remember it as rainy and foggy. I used to tell him, in the form of a question, Are you going to see the foggy night strippers? Don’t you ever go home? He would smile and always say the same thing; I have to go see the dancers first.

There was a company- it was a few districts over and off the highway- that was trying to make fake blood- but was having trouble with the hemoglobin or something (word had gotten out and investors in the know were said to be pulling out) – and it was no small outfit- they had the largest machines in there- not for the blood, – for the factory part or something- and he worked on these machines when they were being built. But there was some problem with it all- and nobody could figure it out- not the engineers, not the factory types- not the builders- nobody.

So, – they kept sending me as a driver out there with him to look at the machines on the site- (in the end, many moons later- it was found out somehow- almost as if by accident- that the incorrect grease was being used on the shaft of the machines, and that one that could tolerate much more heat or something was needed- not a standard one). See, it’s like sometimes there is an odd law intrinsic to the universe. This law says that at times, no matter how much you want to understand something, – if it is not time, – you will have to wait and the answer will come later. Anyhow-on the way there and back, – he used to do some yoga thing only he understood. He would sit in the passenger’s seat of the big hunter green box truck and put his hand out and receive the sun. He seemed so content in what he was doing that I did not speak. He told me once that it helped somehow with his blood-flow. This pushes the blood around my body like the waves of an ocean. So, – I remember him there also- on the highway- on days like this- foggy, overcast, mushy, – the snow melting just enough into the ground to make mud and all manner of gucky things…

So he- for some reason- I told him later that I had discovered a figure said to be a Divine Mother, and she was an Indian incarnation of such. I told him I would meet her one day. She was then in Germany living- and I had read everything I could about her. He often went to Germany, and stayed with some lady acquaintance there. So to me, being a very naïve and idealistic person in many ways- I thought it was perfect. But he always laughed me off politely and said things, when pressed on the matter, like Why would I want to go see some Indian saint?

After a few visits he stopped coming. I don’t know where he went. For his moments of openness, most of the time he held the cards close to his chest. Then he somehow ended up back home. I don’t know exactly how it was then for him, his progeny, or anyone else involved. One day someone called me with news of his death. He had passed in his chair late at night while watching television.

I don’t know if wrestling was on.

Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian writer (more of a poet) and has a book of short fictions published with Fowl Pox Press (2013) called Chalk Lines. He has written over one thousand vignettes and some other works also, but work mostly with short forms. He recently took up landscape photography (as an amateur).

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