*** ‘Vignette City’ is an ongoing project of daily writing and urban photography ***
They’re shutting down the ice factory. Everybody makes their own ice now, the Boss said. They got fancy ice cube trays now, Boss said. Made out of rubber so that the water freezes into shaped like stars or penises, he said. Little ice penises in their ice buckets on their bar carts, just slowly melting and dripping down to nothing or filling up their gin and tonic or whatever it is that people drink up there on those patios in those new buildings they’ve been building downtown that look like robots hiding out like buildings just waiting for their chance to change back into robots, the Boss said over the factory intercom the day he got the news and after probably he had been drinking a little gin and tonic his own self that day. Just that morning he had been saying that he’d just seen one of them movies about transforming robots. Can’t ever be sure what is or isn’t a robot, don’t that give you pause? He asked me that morning and I didn’t then know what to say, because I’d never thought about it and so I said, I’ve never really thought about that Boss.
There’s no time now to occupy my mind with such thoughts. I already miss the days when I had the time to, even though the factory has not yt been quite shut down yet and so now is still a day when I got a job and a few moments to think about such things, but I don’t want to be occupied with the frivolous, because I have to start looking for work and this was the last ice factory on this side of the river and what is a guy to do when he’s my age and has hooks for hands? Not as though there is much work for me in offices. In and out of ice factories all up and down the river all my life since the war. It is all I know, if I’m being honest. This works suits me, always has. And I’m equipt. In and out of freezers on boats up and down the river, lots of years on. Sweating in the cold. It is the only life I have had stateside, since the bad times. My belly sure has swelled this last decade or so and on the occasion when I catch sight of the bathroom mirror out of the corner of my eye, I am often surprised to see my Old Man there looking at me, only it ain’t him, it’s me. And it makes me look at me and think about him and think maybe he was not quite as bad I man as I always made out. In my memory of him, he is younger than I am now. If I crossed his path on the street I’d say, Kid get your chin up. Or something like that. Such a down man he was.
Kid, I’d say to him, don’t let the world hurt you so much. Just love that little boy you got. Love him good, because the world out there is a cold place for a man, especially one who can’t even hug his old man on account of his arms being like that.
Nobody ever said that to my old man though. Or if somebody did it weren’t never apparent in the way he behaved.
A cold world out there, I wish somebody had said to him, because it would have helped him and maybe helped me too. Who knows?