dennis 36 years

first thing i noticed
about the man
who came to fix my
garbage disposal
was his name tag:

dennis 36 years.

without saying a word
he made his way to my kitchen
white five gallon bucket
in his left hand
serving as a tool-box.

he pulled an old blanket
out of the bucket

spread it on the floor
beneath the sink
and crouched down.

i'm fascinated
and appalled
by the kind of people
who work 36 years
at the same job.

personally
i've never lasted
more than a year and a half
at any turn.

sitting on the edge of the bed
in my efficiency apt
i pretended to read
a book of short stories
by chekhov

but i watched him work

wanting to know
what kind of thoughts
ran through his mind
on a daily basis

like sherwood anderson
i’m intrigued by the
grotesques

but if you pay
any kind of attention in this life
you know you don’t
ask those kinds of questions outright
to the type of people
who work 36 years
at the same job.

i heard his wrench
drop to the floor.
bat-full of hell,
he said
and kept working.

a few minutes later
he put the towel
in the bucket
and stood up.

she'll take the full load,
he said
and walked past me
and let himself out.

that night
i was sideways
on crown and seven

playing the clown
for my first
fuck-buddy in ten years

and i stubbed my little toe
on her bedpost.

bat-full of hell,
i said
limping it off.

what'd you just say?
she called from the bed
where she sat cross-legged
in pigtails
painting her
fingernails black.
bat-full of hell
it's not my line
i stole it
from dennis 36 years,
i said
looking down there
to make sure
i hadn’t sheared off
the toe.

wha?

never mind,
i said
and got up there properly
and set the polish on the bed-stand
before giving her
the full load.