Walter: The Liquitex

March 15, 2017

It occurred to Walter, that if he would simply write his house number on the side of his trash can -- along with a few choice expletives -- it would render the can far less desirable to poachers. And it was this thinking that had him standing outside in his bathrobe at 2 AM with a can of orange Liquitex. "Five. Two. Seven. Maple." He counted aloud as he sprayed the uneven coats on the fresh new surface, the "seven" looking 10 times angrier than the "five." He had not guessed just how gratifying this angry painting would feel. He smiled, flipping the can with his slipper and painting the numbers again, this time calling down the street to whatever opportunist might be lurking in the bushes. "Five. Two. SEVEN. MAPLE. Is this my trash can? IS THIS MY TRASH CAN?! If you steal my can, YOU'RE A DICK!"

His 7-year-old daughter stared down at him from the 2nd story window. She smacked at the glass, but Walter did not hear. He pressed on, his left slipper, now dusted orange from the overflow spray, flipping the can again, exposing side one, which was now badly smeared into something like an 80s nightmare font, and side two, its bloody rivulets dribbling down into the freshly cut Bermuda grass. Walter took half a step back to center himself, and then opened fire with a verbal scourge so loud it could be enjoyed from three blocks over: "I'M A DICK!" The declarative fit perfectly on side three, enclosed in a conjured rectangle of orange marching ants, or fire maybe, YES, FIRE ANTS – jumping robotic FIRE ANTS – waiting for some asshole to fuck with him now: “Fire ants! ROBOTIC FIRE ANTS! You hear me, you little SHITS, you little shit stealing dick people!”

Walter lost his breath and stumbled back from the can. Now there was a great deal of moisture falling from his face. His orange paint-covered fingers reached up to touch the side of his cheek. He muttered softly as he slumped into the grass, “little shits….” Walter lay there a long while, spooning with the trash can and thinking about his lonely life. About the man he had intended to be. About that pretty girl named Lara from Ms. Walsh’s homeroom class in third grade, the one with the long braids, who was always nice to him, maybe nicer to him than anyone since in his whole life, if he was being honest about it. That was a long time ago. The street lamp flickered on and off. Walter filled the can and dragged it to the street. And now, the flaw in his design. He sighed dejectedly at the realization and then slowly turned the can around so that side three was facing the house. He whispered through the fog, “Yep. I’m a dick….”

Walter looked over his shoulder to see his little girl staring down at the scene below. He smiled weakly and waved, “I’ll be right there, honey, just putting… just putting the trash out.” #thestoryofwalter 0103

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