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Evan Reminick

With pale new daylight upon the storefronts the main drag is bare, but the traffic lights go through their colors, signal boxes clicking their slow cadence.


Picking his nose at the corner, Carl Simmons.  Tall, lanky and loose-jointed, knees bending slightly the wrong way.  His breath steams the air.  He is late for work, but more used to killing time than making time.  He waits for the signal though there is no traffic on the cross street.  He sits drinking pop on a stool in the stock room of his uncle's auto parts store.  Locates parts from the long rows of metal shelves.  Knows  the job forwards and backwards: has had it four times over the years.  When a part is out of stock on a same-day order, he takes his uncle's car to another auto parts store to get it.  One morning a week, he comes early to help his uncle do the inventory.  Minimum wage.  Plus assistance check. When he doesn't crawl out of bed, the world doesn't stop.


Sometimes after work his uncle takes Carl to his house in the suburbs, and Carl plays poker with his uncle's group.  Carl and three old farts from AA drinking seltzers and smoking discounts.  Carl winning close-mouthed, doing nothing to piss anybody off, quietly cleaning them out. His uncle puts a bony arm around him and says, "Carl, you're a real third-shelf kind of guy."  Carl stops pulling in his chips and sits there arched and uncertain, never knowing what to do with a joke.  When his uncle gets too sleepy to drive him home, he sometimes stays the night on the couch.  But when he does this his uncle wakes him early the next morning to go to work.  Usually Carl walks the five miles home.  Walking and smoking, dark of empty night on the highway berm, shining eyes of the occasional deer in the occasional headlights.


Most nights he stays home.  Occasionally he calls Francis, who is back from rehab.  Somewhere in the conversation, asks her how she's doing with the limp.  Other times he talks without picking up the phone.  Sits in the chair talking, though not much, as he is not much of a talker.  Inside he knows that doing this is crazy.  He and Francis avoid seeing each other. Lonesome, Carl buys a skin mag at the convenience store.  Bored, reads the articles.  In the back of his mind, as far back as he can push it, the question: How long?


Digs his thumb deeper up his nose, pushing through to booger paradise.  WALK.  He steps off the curb.









Evan Reminick is a writer living in Oakland, California, USA.  His fiction has appeared online in Eclectica, Comrades and The Duct Tape Press.

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