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  • He is leaving again to photocopy another 3-day notice. I know this sound and smell scape so well, it's like Big Ben, like the metal on metal when a cell door closes. The black smoke from his tailpipe and the constantly almost stalling engine announce the events of the next few days as they waft into the kitchen window from the driveway, with its weeds insisting through the cracks.

    He jumps in and out of car and sty doors with much greater purpose than even his usual sweat to buy the daily treat of cigarettes and beer. I am at immediate attention each time he passes by in his camouflage pants, gleaming white hightop Bon Jovi sneakers, Adidas track jacket, pony tail, and t-shirt unafraid of his potbelly which reads, "America. Don't mess with us, Don't even try," as he hacks up half his remaining lung. In addition to doing all the plumbing bidding of the landlord, mostly half-assed, he is kept around for these moments, and he doesn't not relish them.

    I don't even need to hear and smell the car anymore. I can see them not pet the dog, hear them not say good morning. I can feel the pulling back of courtesy. I sense I shouldn't use the washer just yet, and the window to wash pounds of laundry narrows each month. Sometimes I get up at 4am if I have no more clean underwear, in desperation. Sometimes I don't even want to breathe until he leaves. This cell door opens and closes like this, like clockwork, almost every month. The struggle starts anew the very next day, an opportunity much like the opportunity offered by a hamster wheel. Money is an impressive puppeteer.

    I have a good pile going, and once it is big enough, maybe I'll invite friends over for a bonfire and light it with some of the diesel from his spare tank. We will dance and prowl around it and swing our tongues like pendulums, like the tails of paper tigers.
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