This Great Society - Arts


Illustration: Joel Bentley

Edward Wells II: Entropy
Illustration: Joel Bentley


“Out there it is bloody, fucking chaos, mate.” He spun on his left leg toward the younger, twirling the spatula in his left hand. The apron settled in front of him and he again began shaking the spatula at the younger gently, “In here, you think about it, and the whole fucking thing seems simple enough.” “Yeah?” He pressed down into the skillet and something seemed to shriek as he resumed talking too quickly to allow a response. “Simple enough and straight about too. That's how things are. If you can find that in here you know that is how they are. It is so elegant that you'll know, when you find it, that all it takes is to express it and like the lights, mate, you've got it.” He moved his arms around a bit in a restrained motion in front of him, removing the apron, then turned toward the table that the younger male was sitting at. He walked to the table in his plain white t-shirt that had a number of holes widening around the neck line and a soft package of cigarettes partially visible in the pocket. He placed two plates on the table. “It's so simple; yet out there, it's bloody, fucking chaos.” He sat down and then looked directly at the younger. “Now, eat up, mate.”

It was especially when the younger male sat on the hard floor of the living room – staring at the sunlight streaks cutting through smoky, dusty air to strike whatever was in its path – that his mind went to some nice and simple thought. Mostly he sat there quietly with his legs crossed and his palms up, one holding the other, both resting in the center of his legs. The sounds of the neighbours would steal through concrete walls and ears.

The younger could smell the older male and hear the older's body any time he was there. The younger had grown accustomed to this a few months after he'd come to live here. The older spoke loudly sometimes, and he liked when the younger looked at him while he talked. It hadn't taken two months to realize this. According to the older, all the things that he said would be of benefit, but some of the advice seemed nonsense in the light of the simplest and easiest way: the younger was polite, and people gave him what he wanted.

“Get up. We've got to get the trash out of here now.” The younger rose, walked to the kitchen and opened the cabinet beneath the sink. The large green plastic trash can had been with the older man longer than the younger had. The rim was worn, revealing a number of holes that were beginning to widen. The result was that small pieces of the lip would crack off when lifting the can by the lip. The older man would lament and attempt to reinforce in the younger the importance of not breaking off any more of the lip. The younger would listen. “I realize that that can is getting old, but every day that we make it last from now on is another day that we save the cost of replacing it. It's like overtime. These points are important. Do you understand that?”

The younger would nod his head in affirmation of the older's exposition. Then, the younger would inform the older when another piece of the lip would break off, because it was important. What seemed significant in the younger's mind was that the can could be used long after it had no lip, and that a broken lip was no reason for anyone to stop being polite and getting what they want.

A wrapper spun at the base of the hallway's wall. A piece of string swung at the top of the stairwell. He held the now-empty trash can to the right of his body and dragged the toe of his left shoe. It pointed at the spinning wrapper as he walked past. With his foot pointing nearly directly behind him, he dragged it across a seam in the concrete floor of the building's exterior hallway with a thump. Another thump against the angled concrete above the stairs. Another further down the hall. The light grew brighter and brighter. He reached the bottom step. The door was the last on the left, the end. Light streamed and spread around the darkened concrete wall. Light wrapped around through the entryways and the stairs to the second floor ahead at the end of building. It came up into the hall just past the last door on the left where he now stood.

He touched the handle and then knocked. The tiny dent at the upper left was always a comfortable resting spot for the ring finger of his left hand. The knob turned with his hand still on it and the man pulled the door open. The boy stepped inside and rubbed his left eye with the meat of his hand.

“Got the trash out quick didn'tcha?” The man pushed the door closed behind the boy and then walked into the living area and sat on the couch. “You know. When you don't take out the trash, I have to walk out to the left, down the short steps and all way 'round. The banging stairs you bound up, I can't take anymore.” The man sat there with the television for a moment while the boy sat down on the hard floor. “Chinga. Never get like me. Ya hear. And would ya look at that on the screen.?” The boy lifted his head in the direction of the screen. The two watched as a news story was read and text scrolled across the bottom of the screen.

“They're screaming to overthrow him. I'm wondering where's the bloody dictator supposed to dictate the people that want to be dictated when we give the country to the people that want to be free.” The younger watched as some diminishing flames and embers lit part of the otherwise darkening room in a brief image. “But out there, it'll be a lot of bloody fucking chaos before its over mate.”


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