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Monday, June 30, 2014

Bluto, parts 3328 - 3331

 3328. It would be perfectly obvious. And who delivers the papers on Sunset Avenue in that block next to Rose Place? That kid Albert, Albert what’s his name, he must be the one who has been creating this pile of wet papers 

 3329. So, there it was, April 15th, and a big pile of newspapers about six feet deep crying out to everyone that I was a loser. 

  3330. But then, on that very day, Jason asked me if I would work for Bluto on Saturday. Bluto wanted me to help him to unload some junk from a house in the town of Clinton.

3331. It wasn’t exactly a part time job really, but I made it sound like it was a permanent part-time job, so I would have to quit my paper route. My father didn’t like it, but I had no choice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bluto, parts 3324 - 3327

 3324. Behind the barn there was the most gigantic pile of wet soggy newspapers that you might ever come across in your life, piled all in one place.  Imagine how I  felt.

 3325. I  could sympathize with the murderer who reads in the newspaper about the person they killed being found in the woods somewhere by a hunter.  Nobody knows who the guilty person is but they are going to find out.  That is how it was with my pile of newspapers.

3326. If  you were cutting through those yards between Sunset and Rose Place and you saw those papers; at first you would have no idea how they could have come to be there.  You would have thought to yourself, “Who would have so many newspapers to throw away?”


3327. There would be only one answer to that question, a paper boy.  And why would a paper boy have so many papers to throw away, you would immediately wonder?  “Because he is losing his costumers and not telling his route manager about it, that's why.”

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bluto, parts 3320 - 3323

 3320. But I  know you are going to ask me why I  didn’t just cancel three or four papers at a time, or even ten all at once. But when the number got up to thirty-five, how do you tell that to your route manager?  He would have though I was crazy. And what would my father have thought about it?  

 3321. No, it was better to just go on with the route so long as I  was able to manage to pay the weekly bill.  It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t making any money; that I  had to deliver the entire route for nothing.  

 3322. But then I  got to the  point where I  had forty extra papers a day, and if I  collected every house I was still five dollars short every week.  I  got to forty extra papers a day on April 15.

3323. I  remember the day very distinctly. I still remember that day because there was a sudden spell of very warm weather that lasted for a week.  It started on April 8th and by the 15th all the snow in the entire city was gone, even the huge piles that the city snow-plows create at the corners of the streets were gone. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bluto, parts 3316 - 3319

 3016. I especially I  didn’t want my parents to find out about what was happening.  I  didn’t want them to find out that I  was throwing away thirty-five papers every single day.  By the end of January I found a solution for what to do with the extra papers. 

 3317. There was a big brick apartment house about a block from my home. It was once a farm house, and behind it there was an old red barn. That barn was always locked up but behind it, just past a little yard, was the driveway for an apartment house on the next block.

 3318. When the driveway was plowed out after a snow storm they pushed all the snow into a gigantic heap up against the back of the barn.  There was a big space between the snow pile and the barn and if you were cutting through the yards you came to a place where you couldn’t be seen from any direction.

 3319. Every day I  would take all the extra newspapers and throw them between the snow pile and the barn.  There was no way you could have seen me doing such a stupid thing, and there was no way you could see the papers either.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bluto, parts 3312 - 3315

 3312. Meanwhile, I  was arriving at the fire station later and later that winter.  The fire station was where the man from the Observer Dispatch, our local newspaper, dropped off our bundles of  papers every day.  He drove a gray 1949 Plymouth two door sedan.

  3013.  After I started to be late paying my bill I  would break into a sweat every time I  would see any gray Plymouth, even a new one.  Since I  was never there when he delivered my bundle of papers I  was never able to tell him to give me fewer papers.

 3014.When my route got down to one hundred costumers I  was losing over half my profits for the route, since I  had to keep on paying for the papers I  wasn’t delivering everyday. 

3015. But here is the odd thing about my situation; I  didn’t care about the money. I  was supposed to get twenty dollars at the end of the week, but now I  was only getting ten, but my biggest problem that I  faced every day was what to do with all of  the extra papers. I  had to throw them away but I  didn’t want anyone to notice; I  didn’t want anyone to know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bluto, parts 3308 - 3311

 3308. What happened to Bluto and Jason was never even explained, but by the end of the week Bluto had a new truck and a new job. I  say new but the job was not exactly a job, and the truck was an old 1947 panel van that had been a bread delivery truck.  Bluto’s new job was hauling junk to the dump from peoples attics and basements; he was self employed. He had an ad in the classifieds in the paper.

 3309. I didn’t know that I  was going to be spending a lot of time in the coming months in that old truck working as  Bluto’s assistant cleaning out attics and basements. It was a part time position that couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as I  was about to be fired from my regular job. My regular job was a paper route.

 3310.  I  had been delivering papers for over a year. I  took over an evening paper route of one hundred and twenty costumers from a boy that had moved and at first I  was very excited about it.  It took me about two hours each day and all day Saturday I  had to collect the money.

3311.  Gradually, I can’t say why, I  began to lose interest in my business enterprise. I  set out with my bag of papers later and later, and each day I  would find some new distraction to take up my time until I  was hours late delivering my last costumers. Then the competition, being the boys with routes bordering mine, began to convert my costumers to their routes, and I  began to lose two or three costumers a week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bluto, parts 3304 - 3307

 3304. That night Jason and Bruno returned, and so on Monday morning Jason was waiting for me at the corner. As soon as I  saw him in the distance it seemed that he had something important on his mind. He was silent and distracted.  On any other morning he would have started talking about cars, but when I asked him what he was worried about he got very angry, as if I  was attacking him. 

 3305. Jason was not the sort of a person that could explain anything personal, and so over the next several days, I  pieced together a picture out of guesses and surmises of what I  thought had happened when he was away. I  could have been completely wrong however, but there were certain obvious facts that could not be overlooked, especially the absence of the big Mayflower moving van. 

 3306. Jason had been teasing Bluto to let him drive the truck. He probably did drive the truck on some rural road in Alabama, and was pulled over by the police. Either that or he got in an accident. After that Bluto lost his job. All this had happened to people I  hardly knew, hundreds of miles away and of no possible concern to me. 

3307. But it was like someone had thrown a rock in a lake somewhere and the ripples went out, and the further away they got, they become so slight you could hardly see them; but when they got to me, my life was overturned and disrupted.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Three Penny Wrench, parts 3300 - 3303

 3300. Not that I  would have had to give up being a kid.  I  don’t know what would have happened if I  had stayed there after constructing the bed.  But it would have been too serious, and I  was sure it would affect me in a way I  was not ready for. It was a situation of self preservation.

 3301. Even though I  stuck with the bicycle and did not do anything with Mrs. Sweet in the bedroom that Saturday morning, nevertheless it affected me.  I  was never quite the same after that.  Nothing had happened, but I  couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 3302. I kept thinking about how much fun it was sitting there on the floor putting that bed together, and I  was constantly trying to think of some way to repeat the experience. I was conflicted. I  was afraid of Mrs. sweet, and I  wanted to stay away from her, but on the other hand I  wanted to repeat the experience of putting the bed together.

3303. I  wanted to be suspended in that odd place where something strange and exciting is just about to happen any second, but yet doesn’t happen. You don’t want it to happen because if it does happen it won’t be just about to happen.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Three Penny Wrench, parts 3296 - 3299

3296. But what did my attachment to my bike have to do with Mrs. Sweet?  It’s obvious, if you consider it.  A bike is a child’s thing, like roller skates and pig Latin, like cart wheels in the yard, like hop scotch and comic books.

3297. Adults have no interest in any of those things.  Adults get in the car and drive to work, then they drive home again.  At home they watch television and then go to bed.  Do you think some man is going to skip on his way to work in the morning.  Skipping might be good exercise but you will not find a single man in the entire world who will ever dare to do it even for five-seconds.

3298. That is the great tragedy of being an adult, and why, in most cases and for most people death would be a much more interesting experience.

3299. What I  understood back then was that Mrs. Sweet was inclined to introduce me to some of the few interesting things that adults get to do that take up some of their spare time;  activities that I  could only vaguely imagine and that I  was very curious about, but only in an abstract sort of way.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Three Penny Wrench, parts 3292 - 3295

  3292. My Schwinn was my first good bike.  I  couldn’t have bought it, I  came across it by accident in my cousin Joey’s garage after he went away to college. It was all rusted from being left out in the rain.  My aunt Lucy gave it to me for free because she didn’t know it was worth anything.

 3293. I  took it all apart and cleaned it up, removed all the rust and put it back together again. I  got the idea that I  wanted the bicycle to be absolutely silent and run with no squeaks or clicks, so I  removed the fenders and also the chain guard. I  even removed the kick stand because it was always clicking against the pedal when it came around.

 3294. After that I  decided that in order for it to be truly perfect it had to be a three speed, instead of a one speed coaster brake bike, so I  replaced the back wheel with an English wheel with gears.  At that point I had a perfect bicycle; the perfect combination of the speed of an English bike with the comfort of the seat and the shock absorber of the American bike.

3295. The only problem with it was that it had no brakes. The English wheel did not have the coaster brake, and there was no way to attach a hand brake to the Schwinn frame. To stop I  used my foot, dragging it along the ground, but as a rule, till I  figured out how to attach some brakes, I  was just always extremely careful.  That was very stupid, but then, as I  have said  before, I  was not a very bright child.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Three Penny Wrench, parts 3288 - 3291

3288. On the contrary, a boy like that would never be allowed to go to the second floor, it was strictly a question of knowledge, and even more, a question of aesthetic appreciation.  

3289. Mr. Embree, the owner of the bicycle junk yard, was also the owner of another peculiar property. His dilapidated one story house of cracked and pealing gray stucco sat in the middle of a lot covered with dirt patches and weeds.

3290. His house was sat all by itself at the entrance to a large woods. The woods, were urban woods, the type at the edge of the city not yet touched by urban development. Woods that manage to continue to exist at the borders of urban areas might be said to be the exact opposite of those woods you find in their natural state.

3291. The woods behind Mr. Embree’s house were full of intersecting foot paths and a hundred years of accumulated trash. One could find both stoves and refrigerators, cars and trucks, pots and pans, and millions of broken bottles mixed in with broken bricks and cinder-blocks.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Three Penny Wrench, parts 3284 - 3287

 3284. You might picture to yourself this conversation happening between the owner, who looked like a aging Hell’s Angel member, and some 13 year-old boy like myself. “I want to buy a Bendix brake for this wheel.” “We only have the New Departure, in stock, but it will work just as well.” “That’s all right, I want to wait till the Bendix comes in, how long will it take.”

  3285. A conversation such as that would not automatically be rewarded with the honor of going up the stairs at the back of the store to visit the bicycle graveyard, but several such conversations, and many such discriminating purchases would lead to this event.

 3286. The store owner might say of a particular part, “It’s not available anymore, but go up in the attic and look around, probably you can find something up there that will work.”

3287. This casual suggestion was actually the bestowal of a great honor, and had to be understood as such. The right to access to the second floor would not be given to some other boy who walked in with his parents and purchased the most expensive bike in the shop and then decorated it with the endless add-ons available such as electric horns, raccoon tails, streamers, and saddle bags.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Three Penny Wrench, parts 3280 - 3283

 3280. Therefore, although the city still exists, the bicycle store is gone, its building is gone, its street has disappeared, and the neighborhood has been transformed into highway surface. So, in many ways you might say that the city still exists in name only, whatever its name might be.

 3281. In the bicycle store, on the second floor, was a big attic room with hardly any light except for a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. In the gloom the entire floor was four feet deep with bicycles in various states of decomposition; a true bicycle junk yard. 

 3282. One could not simply go to the back of the store, mount the stairs and go rummaging through the great collection of broken bicycle parts that were stored there. If you ventured to go up the stairs to the mysterious dead bicycle room, the owner would call out to you to desist, and then mutter something about how his insurance did not cover the second floor.

3283. If, over the years you made purchases that indicated that you were a true lover of bicycles, you graduated to the statues of being allowed to go to the second floor. How did the special status come about? Simply by the inadvertent display of knowledge about bicycles and their parts.