Iowa Writes

KATE MARSHALL
Dreamer


Tom Cassidy. His picture on the side of the idling bus both pleased and startled him— "It's got the right feel," his wife said when she'd selected it. "Just enough smile to look approachable but not so much that you look goofy or slick." He'd wanted one in his coveralls but she nixed the idea saying that people connected plumbers with "you know what" and that meant guilt by association.  He'd gone along because she had the taste, but hell, just this morning he'd snaked four toilets in a MacMansion where the shit was ankle high in all the bathtubs and the basement was flooded.  He wasn't ashamed to work with basics. Even when he'd hired on two new apprentices, he still took weekend calls. The boys deserved a life. 
        In front of the bus depot where he waited for his eldest son, a mix of people gathered on benches, glued to phones and laptops. The smell of diesel fumes mixed with juju weed and cigarette smoke. The high school across the street had let out and a teen with purple hair and nose rings slouched against the wall and passed a baggie to a plump girl dressed in tattoos and a mini-skirt. They'd just raised property tax to support new learning programs.

Tom Cassidy. His picture on the side of the idling bus both pleased and startled him— "It's got the right feel," his wife said when she'd selected it. "Just enough smile to look approachable but not so much that you look goofy or slick." He'd wanted one in his coveralls but she nixed the idea saying that people connected plumbers with "you know what" and that meant guilt by association.  He'd gone along because she had the taste, but hell, just this morning he'd snaked four toilets in a MacMansion where the shit was ankle high in all the bathtubs and the basement was flooded.  He wasn't ashamed to work with basics. Even when he'd hired on two new apprentices, he still took weekend calls. The boys deserved a life. 
        In front of the bus depot where he waited for his eldest son, a mix of people gathered on benches, glued to phones and laptops. The smell of diesel fumes mixed with juju weed and cigarette smoke. The high school across the street had let out and a teen with purple hair and nose rings slouched against the wall and passed a baggie to a plump girl dressed in tattoos and a mini-skirt. They'd just raised property tax to support new learning programs. 
        Tom Cassidy for City Council:  Change that works. He'd have liked it to read:  Tom Cassidy for City Council:  Sewer Clean Up You Can Trust, but his wife and his Chamber Leads group who fronted most of the money for the ad shot it down. He knew he should be grateful.  No one from his party had won a seat since Vietnam, and that was because the opponent was Catholic.
        Dreamer, that's what his son said. But someone had to stop things. Before it was too late.  Before the Washington gasbags wrecked the whole thing for everybody. The current bozos spent their time forbidding city workers to travel to Arizona and passing prairie dog protection ordinances. Couldn't even excavate your own yard without a permit. Wetlands, my ass.  Where he came from they were called swamps and frog ponds and you drained 'em to get rid of the mosquitoes. 
        His wife said he'd give himself a heart attack if he didn't calm down. 
        He touched his chest and stepped aside as a homeless man wearing fancy red sneakers, the kind his son had that rocked when you walked, staggered past him smelling of alley and booze. But Tom was not quick enough to avoid the guy's loaded Safeway cart that bashed his foot.  Tom stiffened. His back ached and next week, his crew would have to dig up the sewer line at the MacMansion. He saw his son jump off the bus.
        "Christ, sorry," the man said.  "I didn't see you." Greasy hair fell over his eyes as he bent his head. The man's pants, tied up with loose twine, rode low across his hairy belly. 
        "Jesus." Tom shook his head and reached in his pocket pulling out a five dollar bill.  "Get a belt."
        "Thanks, mister." The man shoved his cart to one side and stared at the bus. Then back at Tom. "Hey, wait a minute. Ain't that you?" He stepped closer and held out his hand after he rubbed it on his pants. His breath smelled like the basement of the last house. "Hey, you'd get my vote, but I don't have an ID."

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


KATE MARSHALL

Kate Marshall is a writer living in Boulder, Colorado.  This flash fiction piece was written at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

This page was first displayed
on August 20, 2014

Find us on Facebook