[NOTE: This is not a post about male genitalia. Move along, citizen, nothing to see here.]
Today I chanced upon a heap of junk.
I don’t know what it’s like in your city, but in mine they have “kerbside collection’ months. Entire suburbs start loading the street-sides with whatever they don’t want. And I, unashamed scavenger, native-born Kiwi and practitioner of the ancient Japanese art of ‘Mottainai’, feel compelled to stop, poke, pry, and take.
Most of these heaps consist of that crappy modern furniture made of this sheets of ‘wood’ that, if they made it any thinner, would have to be redefined as ‘cardboard’. Also dead TV sets, stained mattresses, defunct toys and junk-from-under-the-house. Since I already have an oversupply of junk-from-under-the-house, I generally don’t take any of that. But occasionally I find real treasure. Last time it was a little bookcase that looked like crap but turned out to made of kauri – NZ’s premiere timber. It now looks awesome!
ANYWAY – TODAY. Here’s the irony: I’d driven a long way to get to a showroom that sold acrylic tubes and suchlike, but it was closed! Their website said ‘Friday: open until 5pm’. Door said ‘Friday: open until 5pm’. Even the guy on the phone said “Open to 5pm, Monday to Friday.” But f- it they were f-ing shut! Defeated, and exhausted from spitting f-ing expletives at their f-ing door, I drove off – only to find THE HEAP 20 seconds later.
I stopped. I looked. OMG there were ray-guns! Three of them! (Hey – you can never have enough ray guns.) There were top-hats, five of them! (You can never have enough top-hats.) And just STUFF! Useful stuff, and useless stuff that I might fix one day. Stuff I just couldn’t leave behind – like the two unused Sailor moon VCR tapes, and the two child-sized pool cues in perfect condition …
And then I began to notice a pattern. THIS WAS NO ORDINARY JUNK. There were toys – lots of them. And children’s books. And kitchen stuff. There was a freakin’ jar of brown sugar; full! And a half-finished packet of biscuits!! Two cans of baked beans. … Weird. Disturbing. I began digging down between the crappy busted furniture. (That’s were I found the Sailor Moon tapes under a heap of kid’s clothes.) EEK! My hand was gripping a bunch of teenage girl’s bras!
(NO! I did not take any. Ged’s honour!)
Under that were boys underpants, and so on. Toiletries. A broken fish tank. CDs. Mail.
Yes MAIL – with his name on it! (Yup: the Council’s gonna enjoy finding that. I carefully placed it out of the weather.)
Magazines; heaps of them. He was obviously into cars. She was obviously into those magazines that showed a lot of women in their underwear … no, wait. Maybe that stack was also his! Hmmm. move on, dig, fossick, delve … And around about then I began to back away. It hit me suddenly: I was picking through someone’s tragedy.
There was a story here, and it was sad. Something had gone wrong. Divorce? Unemployment? Had they gone broke and done a runner on unpaid rent? Had there been a death in the family? Several deaths? All the children? Mum? Dad? No; this was no ordinary junk. It had back-story.
Suddenly it wasn’t right. I’d become some sort of vulture, my head inside the corpse of someone’s family life. I pulled it out, shook off the gore, and circled twice more, but I did not stick my bloody beak in there again, nor tear at the scattered innards of this once happy beast. I tossed my last few finds into the car and hurried on my way.
Later I discovered that the sketch book I had taken was in fact not entirely blank. There were a few child-like sketches, then, in the back, a scoreboard had been drawn up.
Kez, Mark, and Connor.
Their Mum had grabbed the pad on some other day, flipped it open and written: “Connor, Please play outside with any friends as the house is a mess. Thank you. Love mum. See you at 4pm.”
So what happened? Between that day, and this? What went wrong?
I could find out.There are enough clues. But I won’t. Best leave that corpse alone.