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  • Where prospects are low, expectations are lower. Basement level, where his future snuggles down into a nest of stringy cobwebs. There isn’t much to do in this town and much less to accomplish. According to the charter, boasting of achievements is something only city folks do and therefore in this dust-choked borough, striving lacks ultimate purpose. No one will listen and those who do condemn the speaker.

    The local job market encourages him to participate in wholesale slaughter. But among the stellar notions of employment he entertains, a butcher fails to feature.

    And his girlfriend wouldn’t approve.

    Actually, girlfriend should be clarified by addressing the female in question as ‘brand new neighbor who will learn his name eventually.’

    No longer attending the social mixer known as school, he lacks the opportunity to accidentally smash into her, sending books flying and romance soaring. The best he can hope to gain is a wave over the garden fence which, in likelihood, will be directed to someone else. But this won’t stop him from obsessing over the position of the fingers, the bend of the wrist. He’s not thinking of cow blood on aprons and barren bank accounts. He's thinking of the possibilities, for which the town's ghosts scream against the indignity.

    His future shrugs off the dust.

    Which has him peeking between the wooden slats, eyes blinking away the dangling dirt as he trails the trajectory of her giggles. How she sends joy sailing. The wanted ads lack the chance to be a cloud above her golden head. And he remembers, whilst spying in a way his mother will momentarily note, how he used to practice kissing against the back porch support beam. His hands would go there, head tilting thus. There would be an aching slowness in his approach, an utter maturity that would prompt notetaking from James Bond.

    Unlike the delivery driver currently pawing at the neighborhood vision. Slowness and maturity doesn’t factor into what they’re doing. He slinks away, dragging his battered heart behind him, red of face and black of soul.

    He takes that job.

    In the haze of a frozen compartment, the hanging corpse wears a blue and white uniform. The headless beast sports a face full of beard and her kisses. The stranger knows her subtle touch and his effigy knows substitute torture. The butchery is not skillful and by week’s end, he’s lying to his mother about cost analysis breeding layoffs.

    In keeping with the charter, he has accomplished nothing.

    Three months and his resume of failure grows until digging ditches is the height of his prospects. Expectations couldn’t be lower than the six foot hole in which he stands, shovel in filthy hand and sweat on burned brow. Perhaps, he decides, he’s found his niche. Because, and this is how God demonstrates His favor to mankind, it’s impossible to mess up a hole. It’s a hole.

    So much like his life.
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