portion of the artwork for William C. Blome's story

Stopped from Doing Carpentry
William C. Blome

I want readers to know from jump street you’ll have to get used to the fact there was no anger or malice or rancor on my part or their part throughout what I’m relating here about the day two large moving vans showed up at my workshop and backed into the long driveway I’m blessed to have. Four husky men piled from the vehicles and immediately fanned out in different directions across my land. That is, the first part of their operation was to roam and search outdoors, and they made liberal use of many bright fuchsia twist-ties to tag every significant entity of wood they came upon. Of course you’ll get a fuller picture of what they did if I mention a few examples of their tagging (and in no particular order on my part): the azalea bushes, the sycamore trees, the oak, piles of shavings alongside the wood chipper, pine boards, cedar planks, and every apple tree and peach tree within my orchard. They made an honest attempt to be very thorough: one man even tagged a flat pencil of mine he found lying on a walkway of the patio. As you can imagine, this conscientious mission outside my workplace took these guys a while to do right, but when the four got together and briefly huddled near my back door after some 90 minutes of concentrated labor, I’d have challenged anyone scanning my property to find anything composed of wood they’d overlooked.

So, evidently satisfied with the quality and sweep of their exterior tagging effort, they now marched into my workshop, and in the second phase of their plan, they went after tagging anything wooden they could find indoors. Now we’d include here my raw materials (my stack of loose boards, slats, dowels, and planks); some finished or repaired or waiting-to-be-repaired items; and various sundries and fixtures (shit like picture frames, my tables, my toilet seat and medicine cabinet, and every chair and door). Why, they even marked the chestnut finials atop a pair of tall table lamps, though thank god they ignored completely the frame and roof of my workshop and its floors, walls, and ceilings. Since my carpentry shop is naturally smaller than my surrounding property, they finished up this interior tagging in just a little better than a half-hour of whirlwind and focused activity, and at that point, they all took a short break.

Then, as three of the men went back out to the vans, one fellow turned to me and said, “Now comes the hard part, in my opinion: it’s our chopping apart and cutting and gathering up all this tagged wood, tossing it into our trucks, and then getting the hell out of here. Not to worry, though: we’ve got hatchets and gas-powered saws and other tools and baskets aplenty to get the job done, and we’re getting to it right now. I’m sure we can have you splinter-free, so to speak, and have ourselves backing out and ready to roll by nightfall.” Well, my own estimate at this point was that it would be dark in about four hours.

But to be truthful, what with the business-like intensity they had displayed thus far, I wasn’t at all surprised when the dude turned out to be good to his word: both shipping vans were full of my wood; all their tools and baskets had been collected and packed; and the tired men were both drivers and passengers inside the trucks by nightfall. Vehicle ignitions began turning over, and both trucks rolled away. When I glanced down at my watch, I squinted and discerned in the failing light that the time was approximately 9 o’clock.

Well, what I thought then and continue to think is that it was somewhat remarkable that these men accomplished all their removal and disposal work on schedule, even though some of them did suffer accidents during the operation. At least I certainly imagine they had sustained hurtful injuries from the amount and kind of yelling I had heard and blood I had certainly witnessed, but to the credit of this brawny quartet, the uninjured men immediately patched and bandaged their wounded, so to speak, and they all kept working like fucking beavers until the job got done. Oh, I realized I’d be up and about first thing in the morning, looking everywhere in the new day’s brightness for any fuchsia twist-ties still in place or for any overlooked items of wood, but I guessed the betting odds were practically 100 percent in favor of my finding zilch on the inside or the outside of my small domain.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 50 | Fall/Winter 2017