Shingleknight

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The last thing we buy with money is a box of assorted seeds, as if that’s supposed to be some grand metaphor or something. The house we pick to squat in is an old Craftsman, paint peeling, shutters falling over drunk. It’s a house for a grandpa to watch Wheel of Fortune in.

We rip the shingles off first thing, toss them in the front lawn as late-season cicadas laugh at our efforts. The shingles that don’t break we repurpose into a suit of armor. A knight who’s always on duty. We lay the dirt and seeds on the roof, and some of the seeds stick to your feet and in between your toes and on the backs of your thighs when you bend down to poke the seeds in with your pinkies and I spritz you so it looks like you’ve peed.

I make a raft out of an old armoire door and use it to navigate the flooded basement’s treacherous sea. I trawl the ocean floor with a rake, paddle with a shovel. Turns out there’s a plug in the ground. Like your average garden variety bathtub plug. You watch the drain slurp the water into a whirlpool, laugh and throw popcorn at me. I imagine the Wheel of Fortune grandpa plugging the drain, flooding the basement, and taking laps with floaties on. You say he must have a Speedo too. A glorious banana hammock. I add it in.

In time we claim our bounteous roof harvest, plant more seeds, and construct rooms our childhood selves would talk about as they poked holes into jar lids and prepared lightning bugs for their new homes. There is, for instance, an astronaut room. Just a shit ton of space stuff, really. A bedroom we convert into a rolling meadow with tiny trees and dewy, sloping hills, complete with papier-mâché shepherd tending his clay sheep. It is, as they say, something.

We don’t work, unless you consider building this home work, and we don’t.

A heckler arrives on our front lawn at the end of the month, insists our creation is an eyesore. There’s a sign and a slogan involved. The day after, we get a counter-heckler wearing a pretty sweet T-shirt with our shingleknight on it. Our guy live tweets the whole thing, draws a small crowd. Their guy recruits family, friends, and a sizeable chunk of the neighborhood’s octogenarians.

The police arrive next day. By now the protesters and counter-protesters number in the hundreds. They brandish signs and flags and effigies. Chants cancel each other out. Threats are made on shingleknight’s life. A circle of people link arms around him to offer protection. The other side stages a hunger strike and burns little shingleknight figurines that a vendor’s selling for two bucks each. The cops plant a troublemaker in the crowd, deploy rubber bullets and tasers once he does his thing. There’s a melee involved.

Shingleknight goes, and then the house does, and we watch it all burn from the backyard.

It is, as they say, something.

We leave when the fire burns out and everyone else decides to go home.

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