08 November 2011

General Kosciuszko

If I had never told a story about Larry Lastagna and his little car, I might never have known about him. Larry, you see, lives only in a clump of brain cells in my head – next to another clump that deals with the smell of burning chicken fat and another that is tasked entirely with making my left earlobe feel as though it is being bitten by a small dog. Amazing how the brain works, really.

Larry was a janitor at an elementary school. Properly, he was called a “custodial engineer,” but nobody was buying that, least of all Larry himself. “I scrub out the shitters,” Larry would respond when people asked him what he did for a living, and he was quite proud of that fact. Monday mornings would find him scrubbing the porcelain to a bright, shining gleam. Tuesday through Friday would often see much of the same. For eight hours each day Larry would work his art – upon toilet, floor, wall and stairwell. In the evenings he would return home to his wife in their comfortable little cape cod. Larry would paint in watercolor and serenade his wife on the violin. Paganini made his spirit soar.

One year his wife suggested they take a cruise in the Caribbean, and after much soul-searching, Larry agreed. When the school's winter vacation rolled around, Larry and his wife packed their swimsuits, their zinc oxide cream, a copy of Being and Nothingness, and a hard salami. They shuffled off on their merry way to regions far distant and far warmer.

On the first full day of the cruise, as Larry and his wife strolled on the ship's deck with cool drinks in hand, they spoke of their dreams, of their aspirations for the years to come. They spoke of their love for one another and for their plans to use their gifts and their talents to make a positive impact in the world. So much to give; so much to share. Life is a blank canvas and dreams are the palette.

The next morning Larry made his way to the bathroom in their suite. He gave a cock-eyed look to the white porcelain toilet and with great passion his thoughts turned to the disinfectant and scrub brush packed away in his luggage.

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