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  • Aaron Carruth

Puny People

His latest violation of the Good Samaritan Act


“So, I pull up to the curb opposite this woman, right?”

My father is glowing. He loves these kinds of stories. He’s the villain and it’s hilarious. There’s a superficially thin layer of self-awareness. He knows his actions were morally questionable (at best), though, he hasn't engaged in any sincere, reflective thinking. He’s too gleeful to concede his conduct was anything but amusing. And, he’s right…


I think.


“And, I can finally read this puny sign,” he flicks his knuckles against my shoulder and draws closer: the universal action for get a load of this.


“FREE,” he says, his mouth curling to the Grinchiest of smiles.


Reader’s note: If you’re wondering why a person would bother posting a puny sign to advertise the fact that everything was free at their yard sale, you should know two critical facts.


1) My father is, by most medical standards (save Chechnya’s), legally blind.

2) He has a strange love for the word puny, and applies it liberally (sometimes, inaccurately). I think it’s because he considers himself to be quite large (which he is). In a way, at least in a contextual sense, most things are puny compared to him. Most commonly, it’s me. He loves to call me puny.


“So, I run past the lady and grab four boxes filled with DVDs.”


“DVDS?”


“Yeah. DVDs. I got forty bucks a box for them at the auction,” he says. Like, do ya mind? I’m tryna tell a story here. And, I know what I’m doing. Why don’t you and your puny little brain stop interruptin me?


“So, I drag the boxes of DVDs back to the truck.”


“You dragged them?”


My father turned and pointed to four MASSIVE cardboard boxes neatly stacked against the garage bay door. Dragging two would be impressive. Four? Other-worldly. [1]


[1] Such are his appetites.


“As, I’m running back to the sale, I lock eyes with the lady. It turns out she’s got a cane.”


He paused here to grit his teeth. Or, smile.


I’m pretty sure it was a false-teeth-grit that turned into a smile.


Yep. That’s the one.


“How old was she?” I asked, probing for the appropriate level of disgust in my expression.


He shrugged.


Now, most certainly, he was smiling.


I’m going with old. Quite old.


“And she says: wow, you’re a lot faster than me, and she turns to hit the sale.”


Hit the sale? The mystery-aged woman. The one who relied upon a cane to steady her walk, was gonna hit the sale?


Methinks not.


But, as my father has always advised: Expect the worst and prepare for it.


“So what’d you say? What’d you do?”


“I ran in front of her and I stacked a blanket box on top of a table with two other boxes and I got outta there.”


“You-“


“And, I’m pretty sure she wanted them. She was in the business.”


“The business?”


“Yeah.”


I’ll admit that we both laughed then. I think it was for the same reason. It was wrong to nearly upend a caned woman for a blanket box and some DVDs (in the business or not), however, my father has a way of making these kinds of stories irresistibly funny. He’s just so damn pleased with himself, but in a “how crazy and effed up is my life?” kind of way. It’s always likable.


I think.


------------------------------


Public Transportation


“Do you think it’s okay to park here?” my mother asked, as she pulled the RAV in line with a bus stop.


“I don’t think so.”


She scrunched her nose and half closed one eye in some sort of failed winking attempt and shut the engine off.


I sighed and opened the passenger door. I had done my civic duty.


The yard sale was a sad affair. Christmas decorations and maternity wear. My mother bent down to inspect a box of books. Instantly bored, I paused to consider my surroundings. It was peaceful. Idyllic.


There’s something especially pleasing about the world’s volume at seven am. It’s several decibels lower than the daily average. You can isolate and identify sounds with incredible accuracy.


Birds chirping, squirrels tittering, the whoosh of water being sprinkled across a lawn.

And, a city bus – rounding a sleepy subdivision’s corner.


“Mom,” I pointed, smirking. At that precise moment, I was the least helpful son on the planet.


My mother, not well known for her athletic prowess, dipped her shoulder and immediately began to run(ish) back to the RAV. There was no one at the bus stop but rational thought had since abandoned her.


The bus driver, unaware of my mother’s transgression, slowed his approach to compensate for what he must’ve mistaken as a potentially wounded (and late) patron.


No, kind sir, not she.


Not late, I’m afraid.


In fact, she was the person discourteous enough to park in the only stretch of sidewalk allocated to non-drivers.


Carry on, my good man. Please forgive us.


“Was it worth it?” I called, grinning in the most unbearable of ways.


My mother paused to pull at the base of her gray, zippered-hoody, scowling. “Shut up,” she said, in a tone that I instantly understood as: God, I’m an idiot. Don’t tell your father.


------------------------------


A picture is worth two hundred and seventy-nine words


The opening riff from Billy Idol’s “Flesh for Fantasy” crackles through a dusty black radio.


A woman, sleeveless, takes a long draw from a bent cigarette.


She’s peeling pull-tab lottery tickets. A pile of losers has gathered at her feet.


A hunk of ash is flicked perilously close by.


Somewhere, a volunteer fire-fighter cries out.


“FLESH, FLESH FOR FANTASY,” she snarls, nodding to the beat.


A man, perhaps her partner, emerges from the garage wearing a t-shirt with a pack of wolves on it. The shirt is oxygen-depriving-tight and covered in the kind of scuzz reserved for yard sales such as this. He drops a box of Halloween decorations on the table from an I don’t give a shit height.


“Hey! Watch it!” she says, refusing to break her search for clovers and bells.


He snorts and adjusts himself, unburdened by social expectations.


Atop a cracked, plastic table, sits a strange combination of items.


Handcuffs.


A police hat.


A used (and poorly cleaned) nasal blockage machine. The kind sold from infomercials and those As Seen on TV shops.


The Complete Box Set of Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease DVDs. [1]


A recorder.


How I got COVID-19 (and hepatitis)


Sometimes I play a game in my head. It doesn't have a name, but for the sake of the story, I'll call it "What's the worst thing I could do right now?"


Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, it's too terrible to act on.


Not this one.


I picked up the recorder and began playing “Hot Cross Buns”.


My mother stared at me, her mouth agape, contorted in revulsion.


Her eyes quivering – wide. What have you done?


I imagine she would have shared a similar look had I killed our hosts in cold blood.


The woman held a second cigarette between her lips, and offered a joyous bit of genuine applause.


We are a troubled family.


[1] I did some research regarding the series and stumbled upon this review from a user who purchased the set from Amazon. I felt compelled to share it with you. Here is the abridged version.


No strip, no aerobics, but good full body muscle training


The title here is very confusing, it's not about stripping (otherwise I wouldn't have bought the DVD either) and not about aerobics. It's about muscle training for the whole body. The instructor's explanations are good; all important points are pointed out. The exercises are a good mix of old and new exercises. I found the number of repetitions to be too low, but I am also an advanced one. The music is very monotonous and, contrary to Carmen Electra's intro, you can't choose any other music. The coach is very sympathetic and competent for this. I need to see if there's more DVDs with him. All in all, a good muscle training DVD for beginners and rather untrained. Three out of five stars.


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