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Leaving

He’d be leaving town soon.

He’d be leaving, lightly loaded, on the bus.

Two items still to part with:

  1. A car with bad breaks, significant steering problems, and bald tires.
  2. That poem that ran much longer than Poe would ever allow. Epic. Five hundred pages of it.

It was the last of his stuff.

After that garage sale and several trips to the dumpster.

A potential buyer was now here for the car. He had a sports coat on.

“I’m asking five hundred,” he advised the man. “It runs, still. But . . . be careful about stopping. That’s . . . rather risky.” He explained about a few dangers involved in that. He didn’t tell him everything. Not everything about the car.

“How much?”

“I was thinking five hundred.”

“You’re kidding. I’ll give you twenty-five.”

“Come on now.”

“That’s better than nothing, isn’t it?”

“That’s almost nothing,” he said.

“Look, I’m doing you a favor. I’m giving it a good home. Huh?”

“Yeah? Then take this too,” he said, and he shoved his sheaf of epic poetry at the man, which filled a whole ream of Georgia Pacific paper.

“What’s this?”

“It’s unpublishable. That’s what it is.”

“What?”

“I’m traveling light.”

“What would I do with a thing like this?”

“What do you do with anything?”

The man smirked. “Recycle it?”

“Look,” he said. “Whatever you do, don’t take my car to the junkyard. It’s served me well. It was good in the beginning, really good, and it’s still got some miles on it. Fix a few things, and it’ll still hum. You can put life into anything if you try.”

“That so?” said the man. “Then why don’t you do it?”

“Me? I’m done with it. I need a new start.”

The man was looking at the work of poetry, fanning pages. “What’s this thing about?”

“Nothing really.”

“It’s a lot of nothing.”

“Life. It’s about life. My life. But I’m tired of it.”

“Your life?”

“No, no. That poem.”

“This is one poem?” The man was fanning pages. He was near the end.

“That’s right.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know about this.”

“I’m done with trying. You know what I mean?”

“Sure. Everybody’s done with that. Now and then, I mean. I suppose I could stick it somewhere. I have no idea where. But if it’s about you, well, that makes me feel a bit odd.”

“Whatever you do, just don’t burn it.”

The man grew red in the face. “Look here. I’m not taking responsibility for a thing like this. And you can keep the damned car too.” He shoved the poetry back at him.

He watched the man get in his car and take off.

He guessed he’d have to take the car to the junkyard.

But what about the poem? He had no idea where that was going. He felt like leaving it in the car. But then he thought of both of them out there, car and poem, in the weeds, surrounded by all that rusting metal and broken glass.

It was just too long, he remonstrated with himself. Poe was right. No poem should be that long. But then he wanted to pack so much into it, his entire self. His whole life’s journey. And what was wrong with that?




About Jack Smith

Jack Smith is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, and numerous reviews, articles, and interviews. He teaches several fiction writing courses for Writers.com.

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