Reading Epitaphs

Peter. They ridiculed his defaults with the label of Parkinson’s Peter. He was diagnosed with the emotional torment that the name waved in his career like your baby cousin’s lack of attention. He lived off of the weekly payroll built off of the sweat drenched upon his long hours of enduring construction work. Nonetheless, the roots of his detrimental alias caused resent on him daily, as he was the laughing stock, skyrocketing a focus for co-worker ridicule.

He didn’t have many stock options.

Peter could never complete an architectural task without the dilemma of a hammer or toolbox pulled south, falling from the teetering scaffolding he struggled upon. Hence, Parkinson’s Peter. All of his detrimental work ethic was marked by the haunting culmination of his premiere day as a high maintenance worker.

A fruit ripened, ready to be picked. But fell to the ground before it did.

He had been providing his stamina with the musculature torture of heaving around heavy slabs of 4×4 wood Kit-Kats like a wrestler disqualifying themselves from the rules. In an inevitable stumble due to his lack of cognizance, he replaced the ground with his angel hair shoelace dyed in dirt, and for a moment it seemed as his size 13 Timberland boots were an anvil solidifying his foot to the ground. He fell in a Superman dive forward as he became parallel to the ground that seemed miles away. Tools submerged into the surface of nothing as he watched 20 stories tell the tale of a plummeting social esteem. From this point on, his work ethic was marked by the daily mistake in which clumsiness took part on his working skills. History would then be repeated. Peter was almost convinced he had created a new disease and he was the only bite size junk food left on the sample table. Day in. Day out. He was Parkinson’s Peter.

The construction worker backspace.

That line over misspelled phonetics.

That crumbled page of misplaced inspiration.

As the sun rose each morning, so did Peter in acute preparation for the day’s work. A five-day routine adapted into his daily mannerism. An avant garde frontier into burning flames and a triumphant enemy. His Los Angeles hospice was awakened by the steam of flavored Java and a nicotine cancer stick ignited, in effort to put suave strength in his nerves. As the boots treaded with yesterday’s labor footprints and today’s vacancy for struggle were tied around his athlete’s feet, that crystal ball assurance became his certainty of an all too familiar failure. He’d already quit locking his door as he felt that he shouldn’t lock up the cursed morale that rides shotgun with him daily. He’d rather give it a chance to be in search of a new prey.

Today he got to work ten minutes late because the bus needed to seat a handicap woman at one of the stops. As the wheelchair ascended onto the vehicle, he only wished that this defiance of gravity would apply to his mistakes. Three stops later, and seven new faces and fourteen eye contacts became the concoction for the morning’s bus ride. At arrival at the work site, he filled out his timecard and picked up his derelict toolbox, with the handle dangling from his hand like a lopsided pull up bar. He was prepared to work/live/repeat his pain. A chronological life span he lives during each arduous arrival.

Brushing teeth. Taking showers. Sleeping dreams.

Mindless experiences we all tend to forget.

He and his team were constructing a high rise for another major Market Corporation. Another Satanic finger pointing into Heaven. He was just a prisoner in the dungeon of the king’s castle. They wanted the world to consume evil. Peter was convinced Lucifer lived high up, next door to God. This was undoubtedly the most prestigiously respected structure he and his team had worked on because of the altitude they planned on having the roof kiss. Peter was situated to make the measurement to place the eagle eye lens that a high-class executive would be looking through. Four feet tall. Five feet wide. The contact lens for a blind multi-million dollar Devil. Peter never cared much of the theological morale that he was enduring, because he saw his life as more of a Hell than what an afterlife would bring. Four feet tall. Five feet wide. Reminded him of those construction workers who order around men light years below, but somehow get paid more.

Moments after intuition, Peter received a call on his radio that requested he hammer in the nails that would present the company name along the side of the building. The words would seem as if they were written on the parallel horizon of the next tallest building. It was a given that this request perturb Peter’s clandestine fear of another mistake. When responding to the call, the tone in his voice spoke in an affidavit of reluctance and skepticism.

No Problem he said.

A scandent nerve channeled in his worrisome self as he stood on the scaffolding to proceed in attaching the company’s name. The Devil’s Food Cake Company. He carefully took one individual nail at a time and pinpointed it onto the most balancing point on each letter. O was always easy. K was the problem. OK. He always saw agreements as an ambiguous skepticism.

That eccentric self on your left shoulder said yes.

That introverted self on your right shoulder said no.

He began hammering at the head of each nail as if it read an offensive statement about him. Two swings and each nail dug deep into the soul of the company name.

The. It’s a good thing I never had parents. Who on earth takes pride in failure? My ex-girlfriend saw that in me. It was blatant in the way I twisted and turned whispering the screams of those inner voices during my sleep. My eyes opened to the sunrise and the bed lay frozen in rejection.

Devil’s. That orphanage was definitely the worst hospice. I loved the smell of the dereliction in the junkie’s breath. His words at least told truth. He introduced me to mainlining. I took envy into anything that a loving parent would take shame and a bowed head in. The only thing was, no one was there to say no.

Food. A turkey bacon club with avocado waited stories below. The juices of the tomato and lettuce would surely wipe the river flow of sweat that rooted in my stamina. Right now I look like a senile woman gave me a full body facial with lip-gloss. Tonight I’m gonna have steak.

Cake. It’s funny how a slice is always offered, but no one feels they want one. Though they have a surreptitious sweet tooth with a dying urge to eat it all. I’ve heard excuses like, “I’m on a diet”, “I don’t like chocolate”, and “I’m stuffed from the filet mignon” Everyone on this planet always seems to have an ambition they are scared to light. Including me.

Company. My apartment is always empty now. The phone only rings to the melody of a advertiser trying to sell you something. That home used to have the shine of her halo above her head. Now it’s like she left and turned off all of the lights.

Exhale. Euphoria. He finally had done it! He had completed his first task ever. An overwhelming spirit of glee vibrate his chakras opened as all happiness poured into them. He was on top of the world. And he was. Accomplishments seem to always come when you work your hardest. He looked at his accomplishment smiling his tobacco-tinted teeth as if the words held a camera ready for the Kodak moment. He read each word proud. Smile. The. Smile. Devils. Smile. Food. Smile. Cake. Smile. Company. Frown. He read it again.

His eyebrows arched down pointing at his nose as he screamed a yell as if he were the power of the roller coaster, not the fear it brings. The words were punching bags that those bulky gym trainers knocked in total conscience of what they looked like at the moment. He swung his fists fast like a tire swing empty. His knuckles smashed against each word cracking with the shatter of that metal on metal sound. He began tearing down each letter in a sadistic manner with belligerence flaring in each nostril he breathed hard through for hours to complete this task. He exerted his anger and violence until his pistons stopped pumping like the gas was too expensive to buy more than a gallon. The words plummeted down from the side of the building. Inhale. Vengeance.

When he arrived back at the bottom, he was greeted by the fingers attached to a body struggling to keep composure atop of all the laughter and taunts. Peter grinned as though he accepted it was another record in his failure collection. He took off his hard hat and walked in a nonchalant manner to the bus stop. He looked back at the building and gazed north. He read all that was left. The Devil’s Company.





Written by Alex, age 14

This entry was posted in Student Writing Gallery.

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