Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2002
Subject: Thanks

Lois,

Strapping wants to thank you for the subscription. If you don't like this next article, let me know as soon as you can. I'm sure I can get Strapping to write another one.

Kevin

Denver Needs Another Blues Band Like
I Need Another Hole in the Head:
Strapping remembers his youth

The last real job I ever had ended on July 2, 1983 . I was once a carpenter. A very talented one. I pounded nails, carved dovetail joints, snapped chalk string, and carried stacks of two by fours with the best of them. Twenty-two years I worked as a freelancer. Building what I wanted where I wanted with whomever I wanted. But for a man named Newton *, I would still be a carpenter. Now I'm naught but an old man, the wrong side of a heart attack, lonely and cragged. By what cruel mechanism do the dreams of youth forestall into the hypnotic musings of senility?

It had been a musty warm day on the barrow downs and we sat upon the peak of a roof we'd half-shingled to eat a lunch of dried mollusks and tomato juice. As was his wont, Clancy the foreman spoke a toast to the clouds, sky and stars beyond. The seven of us below him agreed and started chewing our rubbery repast. Bite and chew, we did, in a solemn formation lined up like crows. For several minutes we thought of nothing but our jaws until Miss Abby-Gail clomb up the ladder to offer us a bucket of houndstooth ice cream. I'll admit I was as anxious for the ice cream as I was to see Miss Abby-Gail's dimpled smile. And I'll admit that I did indeed make towards her and her ice cream with undo haste. But if I was at fault, then the other seven men on that roof were equally wrong; hustling, jostling and generally stampeding our way that musty day.

To my dismay I was the only person to fall off the roof during the fracas. To my delight, I was fed spoonfuls of ice cream by Miss Abby-Gail for several hours as I recovered from my injuries. To my dismay, my injuries included a broken arm, a wrenched back, and a ten-penny nail stuck up to its head in my skull. To my delight, I didn't die.

In time, the broken arm healed. The wrenched back still hurts. The nail was removed in a doctor's office later that evening. The only long-lasting damage to my brain seems to be an inability to grip tightly with either hand and a tendency toward outbursts of misdirected anger. The back and the problems with my hands forever exempted me from a life of carpentry. I didn't mind. For Miss Abby-Gail felt such profound guilt over my injuries that she nursed me back to health and eventually married me.

Unfortunately, my misdirected anger was all-to-often sent on the direction of her murderous mother. An awful, puppy-drowning woman was she. One afternoon, as she railed against her daughter and her me, I could take it no more. I pulled back my wheatstraw bangs and pointed to the indentation in my head where the nail had punctured.

“You haggardly swyvemistress,” I shouted, “I need you like I need another hole in the head!”

She picked up a knitting needle and threw it at me. It lodged in my skull, only inches from the previous point of perforation. She took Miss Abby-Gail away and left me to die on the floor of our handsome cabin.

I did not die. The knitting needle came out of its own accord and now I have two holes in my head, neither of which I ever wanted or needed. If someone were to ask me if I need another hole in the head, I'd say, “Certainly not,” which is precisely how I'd reply if someone were to ask me if Denver needs another blues band.

--Strapping Danforth, February, 2002

*Sir Isaac Newton ( 1643-1727)

Sent: February 15, 2002
Subject: Possible Rewrite?

Kevin

I think we may want to restructure this or go with a different article entirely. I like the tale, but I think we may be pushing the limits given how tight our niche market is.

Take care,

Lois

 

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