Storytime: Garbage.

August 16th, 2017

Gerry was mostly garbage.
You know. Banana peels; candy bar wrappers; wads of paper and shreds of Styrofoam; old beer bottles; crisp pizza boxes; old pickles jars with the juice still in and used Kleenex.
And that was normal, and that was okay!
Gerry was moved on occasion to clean out his garbage. To ungarbage himself. To put it into big, black plastic and lug it to the small, concrete curb and chuck it into a tall, steely cylinder until who knew took it who where. Out of sight, out of under-the-sink, out of mind, might as well be out of this world.
And that was normal, and a little bit bad!
Gerry walked out his front door on the way to work, and he heard shuffling and he heard shredding and he walked up to his precious garbage can and he opened it up and inside was the biggest-ass raccoon with the biggest ass he’d ever seen on an animal that wasn’t related to him. It was wedged at the bottom of the can.
“Hello,” said the raccoon. “I seem to be stuck. Can you save me, kind stranger and passer-by?”
“You’re in my garbage,” said Gerry. This offended him. He might’ve been throwing it away, but it was HIS.
“Oh, yes. I was hungry. Wasting away. Very kind of you to do this. Would you please save me?”
“I should shut the lid and leave you for the truck,” said Gerry kindly.
“Oh please, please, please save me, kind garbage man,” said the raccoon. “If you do, I’ll grant you three wishes with which to make your wildest, tamest, and lamest dreams come very true!”
“Wow,” said Gerry. “What’s the catch?”
“None, just ordinary, run-of-the-mill wishes. Well, normal. Normal for their type.”
“Which is?”
“These are garbage wishes. You have to wish for something about garbage.”
Gerry thought about that.
“I’ll throw in a fourth,” said the raccoon.
“Sure, why not,” said Gerry. And he turned the can upside down and thumped its bottom with his palm until the raccoon shot out like a cannonball and faceplanted onto his lawn.
“Done and done!” it shouted as it scurried down the street. “Just be careful!”
Gerry was unphased. He knew exactly what needed to be done. Four doses of purest power were right there inside him, fizzing and bubbling and waiting to be unleashed as he saw fit.
Right now he saw a very particular fit. A little, everyday fit. One that merited his attention. One that had foiled his every attempt to solve it through normal, rational, reasonable means.
“I wish,” said Gerry – and the air pressure in his ears went all funny and he had to swallow a couple times before going on – “that my neighbour would stop leaving his trash on my lawn.”
And then he went to work.

Before Gerry’d even pulled out of his driveway his neighbour was breathing his last; felled by a stray bullet from his OTHER neighbour who’d been cleaning his gun while super sure that it was unloaded. By breakfast he was downtown; by lunch he was on the news; by the afternoon Gerry’s neighbour’s sister, who was a police officer, had accidentally dropped him down three flights of stairs; by dinnertime Gerry’s other neighbour’s cousin, who was on city council, had publically demanded her resignation.
Anyways by the same time next week half the city was at bureaucratic war with the other. But Gerry saw that lo, his neighbour’s garbage was nowhere to be seen, on his lawn or off it, and he was mighty pleased with that. Mighty pleased indeed.

Gerry’s good mood lasted him halfway to work. But then, at a stoplight, he watched the big doof in the big doofy truck next to him finish off a cigarette and flick the butt out the window without looking. It landed on Gerry’s windshield, where he was looking.
“I wish,” said Gerry – Pghlem roared through his sinuses and he gulped, queasily – “that nobody’d ever throw litter at my car again.”
The light dinged, the motors revved, and Gerry’s car proceeded into the intersection just ahead of the giant out of control semi that jackknifed through everything and chucked people and vehicles into the air like flipped coins.
The resulting traffic jam shut down one of the city’s busiest streets. The ensuing road rage led to a few more accidents that took out four or five of the rest. Then a small riot broke out and they just had to shut down well, uh. Pretty much everything.
Gerry got home on one of the last operable streets and parked his car. As sirens roared in the distance from immobilized police, he admired its spotless surface. Not so much as a wad of spit.

Gerry had the next day off. For some reason nobody was going anywhere.
So he went for a walk. Gerry liked walks because he so rarely took them; they were a treat that way. If he walked more than once a week he began to resent them.
It was the usual route. Down the street, across the road, up the street, through the way, from here to there and back again, then the donut store, which was being solo-manned by the youngest employee because she was the only one within hiking distance of the place.
“Five donuts and a large round zirconian latte-lattice with extra squid,” said Gerry expertly.
The barista checked under the counter. “Nah,” she said. “We’re out. Didn’t get the resupply today.”
Gerry’s walk was ruined instantly, all his hopes and dreams mangled. He slumped his way out the door and down the road and was almost run over by a garbage truck, the one garbage truck the city had been able to field that day, which was behind on time and schedule and had only been able to make it by driving over at least four smaller cars.
The driver made a gesture out the window, then repeated it twice but slower, to be sure.
Gerry understood it properly. He understood it very properly. And he shouted in a voice at least three octaves higher than normal: “I WISH YOU’D LOSE YOUR DAMNED JOB.”
The garbage truck honked merrily and went around the corner, where all its wheels fell off.
Later in the day a city hall employee trapped in a six-hour meeting-cum-wrestling-match who’d been forced to take the chair next to an overflowing trashcan stuffed with half-empty coffee cups stood up, grabbed a pen, and eviscerated the mayor. Half the council took his side, the other half didn’t. Then the police got involved, which got the attention of the national guard, which annoyed the military, which required the firefighters, which and so on and so forth.

And so as Gerry sat on his porch that evening, smoke rising from the city around him, he tried to take his mind off the gunfire three blocks over by looking for the big dipper, squinting up through the haze and charred fog.
“There!” he said. Then one of the stars blinked and he realized it was a plane.
“There!” he said. Then one of the stars moved and he realized it was a satellite.
“There!” he said. Then he realized it was actually Orion’s Belt.
Gerry swore loudly. But then he remembered: he had one wish left! Oh lucky day! Oh hooray for raccoons!
“I wish all this garbage wasn’t blocking my view,” he said.
And lo! There went the smoke!
And lo! There went the smog!
And lo! There went the obfuscating haze of the atmosphere!
And lo! There went the clouds of dust and debris and rock and plants and animals and broken concrete and mantle and magma and core and Earth and everything!

And my oh my, Gerry had the clearest view of the night sky of anyone who’d never been in low Earth orbit.
Of course, that didn’t exist anymore.
But wasn’t the view pretty?

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