Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Tinker Man

His clapboard house sat sinking on the lot adjacent to St. Christopher’s’ Church. Bamboo stalks teetered everywhere, randomly squashed between the trees and lining the roadside like weeds. With their caney stalks painted fluorescent colors, I imagined them all to be plastic straws, the kind with the bendy thing at the top.

I had to walk past…around…. his house to get to Girl Scouts. In the broad daylight, of course.

Mama laughed when I told her he was spooky…. “Ahhhh, half the women I know have been to visit him” “and they’ve all lived to tell about it…’re fine. Walk fast if he scares you, but if you walk slow, you can hear them” “Hear who?” I asked, eyes a little bigger. “Never you mind, honey, go ahead and walk fast…”

So I didn’t.

I slowed down and kicked loose gravel in the street. Dropped my book bag over and over again. Picked up sticks and squatted down low…..examining…..torturing …..little mounds of ants. And I listened. And peeked.

That year I stayed in Girl Scouts five months longer than I made it the year before. I learned the facts of life from the Troop Leader’s daughter ( “They put their tongue in your mouth and then you have a baby”) and I fell in love with the Tinker Man……

I spied on him every Tuesday, under the trees. He whittled and spit and took deep swigs from his beer. He never once looked me in the eyes, but I wanted him to. I would hum and play hopscotch, sing, talk to the birds….Make all kinds of racket. He never once looked up at me….

But I looked at him.

His skin so dark , freshly baby-powdered by the dust that drifted around his grassless house. His black hair, twined, knotted and fringed. Paper moths and love bugs dancing on the locks. His mammoth left hand cupping the beer can, ( I knew it was HOT beer, not cold like Mama’s.) and his other, the right, painting, widdling, sometimes just tinking coins in a cup. He smiled. Not at me. But at the dirt. At his feet. At whatever was before him.

His trees were littered with tin-can faces, chicken bones and rag dolls blowing in the dirty wind. Nonsensical carvings. He was the voo-doo man. He cast spells and took them away.

The lady in the Thunderbird flew past me. She pulled in between the neon cane trees and jumped out, in a hurry . Her diamond tennis bracelet caught the sun and the tin cans sparkled as she hustled over the crackling sticks and rotting sugar cane, lifting her high-heeled feet in fast tense. She handed him the money and he never looked at her. She left the same way she came...only poorer.

I sat down on the curb. Skipping Girl Scouts. The little black convertible arrived within minutes and the man, who should have never fit in the car in the first place, lumbered out of the driver’s door. He stretched his arms lazily to the sky. He yawned wide open. A show. For me . Or the Tinker Man. He walked slowly down the same path she took moments before. He stopped at my love, reached deep into his right pocket and pulled out a wad. Slowly peeled green bills from the money clip. I counted. Five. And then I stared at my feet and wrote in the sand. I gave the big man the honor of not looking in his eyes as he drove off.

The Tinker Man smiled at the dirt. Took another swig from his Tuesday beer. And I heard them then.

The spirits laughing.


skinnylittleblonde said...

I think I need the Tinkerman to undo a spell or two for me!:)
Sister, your creative writing is absolutely beautiful. I just love it! Your fonts are colorful & the Tinkerman may have been into voodoo, but your words...they are just magical!

Anonymous said...

You are a writer!!!!!!
Quit what you are doing (unless you love it) and pursue the path.
Very very cool. I can see and imagine the people there. I get a feel for how things/you/he/it was without having experienced anything like it.-WOW!

Shrink wrapped scream said...

Goosebumps all up and down my spine! Why are you giving this stuff away for free? Hell, I'd pay for it.. Thank you for your gift, and all for free, for you are the best writer I have encountered (I know of many).

kj said...

ohmygod! chills and thrills. mystery and magic. what IS going on in that yard?

keep writing. of course, you don't need me to tell you that because, one writer to another, it's definitely in your blood.

thanks for a nice read to start the day (oooohhh)

she said...

excellent in every way! always three steps ahead of the reader you are...

i find myself reading extra fast just so i can find out whatz gonna happen next!

favorite part of this one for me, was the mother/daughter exchange:

“Never you mind, honey, go ahead and walk fast…”

So I didn’t.

(i smiled so big).

"to defiant & curious daughters and all the mothers smart enough to raise us that way"

Bardouble29 said...

I love your writing. I feel like I am sitting down beside you playing in the dirt.

Orhan Kahn said...

Niice. You liked to tinker with the darkside, aye ;)

They put their tongue in your mouth and then you have a baby

Instant classic.

singleton said...

SLB....I'll the send the Tinkerman your way....only problem is I'm not quite sure he remembers how to take 'em off anymore, but he sure can cast 'em.....! was so spooky that I was totally enchanted with it! And if you've never encountered anything like it, I'm glad you got a sneak peek here!

shrink wrapped....we all share, and I think I've snuck a gift or two of my own just from peeking under your tree!

KJ...."What IS going on in that yard"? Isn't it wild the worlds that can be discovered if one dares to trespass even one inch onto private property?

singleton said...

she...Clink! "to defiant and curious daughters and all the Mothers smart enough to raise us that way!" Toasting you on that one!

bardouble....God, I love the dirt!

Orhan....Classic, of course!

Scott from Oregon said...

Ahh yes, but what about The Muffin Man?

singleton said...

scott...That's another spooky little story!

Matt said...

You two have led interesing lives, you and Skinny.

singleton said...

matt....nomads and hippies do!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've been known to tinker myself. My neighbors shake their heads when they see me running around outside with a butterfly net.

Spadoman said...

That'd be me scratchin' the dirt with a stick that I peel away the bark on and fumbling around, finally taking a seat on the curb. Sittin' in front of your place, waitin' for you to come near the window or better yet, walk outside. Hope you're wearing a tank top. I'll wait. Sit here and wait, hoping you'll look into my eyes.

singleton said...

JR...LOL! And they only shake their heads?

SillySpado....I don't have a curb! :)

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