An Excerpt from “Michael, Little Boy Blacker & Bluer II”

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SAWDUST – Page 41

Not too far from the Mississippi town of West Point, there was a lumber mill. They would let people load up on sawdust at no charge. We built a shitty little barn for our new house out in the country, and Guy decided that he wanted to put sawdust down for the flooring in the barn. He gathered up his five-gallon buckets and put them in the back of his work truck. We drove out to the lumberyard and the place for picking up free sawdust was next to a railroad track. We had to park across the street on the other side of the railroad track, meaning I would have to walk across the street, up a bank, then across the railroad track for each five-gallon bucket of sawdust that I could haul. Guy hadn’t thought this one through at all. Guy filled a container, while I was loading up mine. The saw dust was in a giant mountain, shaped like an upside-down cone.

It was very tall, and sawdust was continuously blowing out from a large pipe at the top. Guy told me to climb up higher into the pile because too much of the sawdust that I was getting at the bottom was wet. He wanted dry sawdust. The higher I tried to climb, the more I was sinking down into the sawdust. I was holding the bucket above my head and trying to climb up, but soon I was waste deep. Guy knew I was going to sink because he was laughing as I climbed. He continued telling me to climb higher and I was telling him that it was difficult and that I was sinking. He told me, “You can’t sink on wood.” So, I told him, “Then you try it.” Yeah, you already know that got him pissed. He didn’t try climbing at all. He didn’t want to get dirty. I was filthy but trying to keep from getting sawdust in my eyes. I saw myself as that little dog on “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” with the sawdust mountain as Mt. Crumpet and starring Guy as the loathsome Grinch.

We spent hours pouring bucket after bucket of sawdust into the back of his work truck. Once he figured there was enough, we filled the buckets and sat them on top of the sawdust that we spent the entire day loading. This was when I knew Guy was stupid. I could see it myself. I dusted off and sat back down in the truck. Guy looked angry and he said, I wasn’t going to do anything until I got the entire truck unloaded at the barn. We started for home; I was watching the sawdust blowing out of the back of the truck. The house was a few miles out in the country. After a while, Guy noticed the saw dust flying out and he slowed down. He drove another mile or so and pulled over. More than half of the sawdust was already gone. The bastard told me to lay in the back of the truck to keep the sawdust from blowing out. I know, seriously. I laid down on top of what sawdust was left and Guy pulled back on to the road.

I couldn’t see anything due to the tiny bits of dust in my eyes, lungs, and every orifice. It was all blowing out and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it, but I frantically tried to look like I was making the effort to hold it down. By the time we were sailing down the hill toward the house, it was almost all gone. This was so stupid. Even the sawdust from the buckets was nearly all gone. When Guy backed the truck to the barn, there might have been five gallons of saw dust left in the entire back of the truck. I got out and shook off. My eyes were burning, and I was wheezing from breathing in so much of the dust. I think the bastard did the whole damn thing on purpose. I scooped out all the bits I could get with my hands and dropped it onto the ground in the barn. It covered about one square foot. Guy said, “Fuck it! Go shower.” I went in the house to clean up and Guy parked the work truck back in the driveway. I never told anyone what that idiot had done until now. No tarp, no sense, just dumb. If we had at least picked the wet sawdust, more of it would have made it home. Guy, who wasn’t dusty and dirty sat his ass down and found some football to watch in the den. Dumbass.