“Turn That Heartbeat Over Again”


The round steel turntable was the center of the universe. It resembled nothing more than the crudely husbanded offspring of a Pizza Hut roof and an Airstream trailer, and it turned and turned. Sometimes things dropped down onto the turntable, and you were expected to grab them, spin, and throw them into a neatly stacked pile on top of a pallet. Sometimes a forklift would come to take that pallet away. Mostly you were expected to wait for those objects to drop, and expected to never get tired. Or bored. To help with that, there was a shitty little radio to help with that, but really a connection to the outside world was the last thing you needed. You heard about Thompson’s death on that shitty radio. On another day, you heard the cool afternoon DJ drop some sort of terrifying Zen wisdom, wrapped up in what he called Clapton’s Law:

“The amount of artistic integrity you possess is inversely proportional to the amount of money you make from beer commercials.”  But the real trouble started when your mind and eyes wandered.

“IS SPAGG A FAG?” was what the graffito said, scrawled on a structural i-beam above the kink of conduit that held the shitty little radio. It had been there before he’d stepped up onto that masonite platform to throw 80 pound feed-sacks all day, every day, and it had still been there when he left years later. “IS SPAGG A FAG?” He knew the answer, had heard all the stories of that swap-meet Lothario. But it still caught him, at surprising times, and it would stick crosswise in his brain as he got to thinking about short human memories, and short human lives, and twisted i-beams laying in scorched rubble under a rainless sky. He could see scavengers or archaelogists digging- and maybe there would be no difference then, looking for 3 phase motors and sacks of dewormer, and stumbling on that ancient graffito, and being faced with that scrawled question. Would they be tormented by Spagg and the question of his sexuality? Somebody had to carry that load.

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