Everyday Larry walks into the lumber yard
with his head down due to years of bad posture.
His hair, fake or not, looks like a blond toupee,
and he twiddles his fingers in mad circles
when he speaks. Mona, the cashier,
calls him "Lonely Larry." She says it whenever
he leaves the room. "Lonely Larry, poor-poor,
Lonely Larry." During the day Larry is a lumber
merchandiser and he takes his job very seriously
even if his corduroy pants are pulled up over
his belly button. He looks like a giant Weeble
most days, and he's a massive billowing shit-talker
from years of love lost, everyday. While fastening the Velcro
straps on his gray sneakers, Larry likes to remind
me of his youth, how in his 20s he was a ladies' man,
a sure-fire chick magnet. He says it was
all due to his over-use of cologne and gold chains.
I find it hard to believe, especially since his work apron
has his name painted on it with large purple letters
and bedazzled silver rhinestones, though he's done
a great job convincing himself of his prowess. Whenever Kayla,
the woman with the perfect ass, the woman who can
speak perfect French, says "hi," Larry's
fake deep voice turns high-pitched and nasally.
He's 60, but whenever that French painting
struts by with her big black boots he turns
into himself: quiet, nervous, perverted, the shy little boy.
At night Larry is a quiz show genius, a Game Show Network
lunatic. Sitting in his father's old leather recliner,
he tries to solve puzzles on The Wheel of Fortune
while sucking root beer from a straw. "Buy a vowel!"
he shouts as he twists off the top of an Oreo
so he can lick the cream filling.
"Why won't she buy a fucking vowel!?" he asks
his purple and yellow canary sitting in its brass cage,
but the bird never replies, it just sits
on a perch rapidly moving its head and chirping a song.
Poor-poor Lonely Larry, the game shows are over
and the symphony has gotten so cruel
with night songs that Larry must go under his bed
and pull out the old box with the frayed cardboard cover.
Inside: ancient comic books that he had saved since
he was a child. And with teeth clenched upon bottom lip,
he savors each action packed square,
each crime fighter's heroic action, each word floating
inside its cartoon bubble. The hands are weak, the sweat
is real, the foreboding feeling in the dark pulls
at lost eyes and surrounds him with panic.
Soon Larry will climb into bed. "Gotta get up at 4 a.m.
and do it all over again," he'll whisper to himself.
It's the same thing each day and night, the perfect
hell on earth, relived day after day and night after night.
The perfect assassin with the perfect bullet,
inching closer and closer by the second until it burrows in us all
and plants the great seed of denial.