There are times in the evenings or at night when he mourns the 8-year-old who once got up on a stage in Mamaia, recited some bullshit communist propaganda poetry, then turned his back to the audience, bent over, and took his bow in that fashion, thus sending the crowd into explosive laughter. There are times during the monotonous, soul-eviscerating workday when he mourns the dirty blonde coif of that summer boy-creature who learned to swing a wooden tennis racquet at his grandfather’s village home while listening to the old man play Stravinsky on his antediluvian violin. While he watched the old man shuffle around in his makeshift darkroom, processing self-portraits with strange, wet chemicals. While he listened to the man get dressed early before dawn, get on his bicycle, and pedal furiously the necessary kilometers to get to the spot which would allow for the optimal photograph of the sunrise. While he ate the dark chocolate his grandfather purchased from time to time with the few coins left over from his monthly pension.
His inheritance came in the post, forwarded through four different cities, years after the old man had died from tuberculosis or lung cancer or something or other or everything altogether. It was a letter handwritten on a very small piece of paper folded lengthwise so it made four pages. He found it strange that the pages were numbered in a weird order–the 1 being the first, of course, but then as he flipped the page, the 2 was on the right hand side, followed by the 3 back on the inside of page 1, followed by the 4 on the very back of the vertically-folded paper. His name was mis-spelled. It contained a “C.” The old man had left him his Leica and Roleiflex cameras, but due to his residence outside of the country the devices could not be paid for to be shipped, and so instead had to be sold to a businessman who specialised in tourism–the money being kept, of course, as recompense for all the wrangling back and forth. And besides, the diaphragm on the Leica was malfunctioning for some reason, thus rendering the device nearly useless with a fixed-size aperture. “You understand, of course,” closed the letter with a post-scriptum request for the equivalency of a hundred dollars to purchase a few pairs of jeans, which would be sold in an open-air market in Ankara, Turkey.
The parking lot into which he pulls every night for his shift is lined with dusty gravel, just behind a Chinese food stand which also cashes cheques and makes Italian subs to order. He works with a sour-smelling man named Clifton, packing light fixtures into long, skinny, rectangular boxes. Last year he received a federal tax refund of sixty-five dollars from a job he held in Receda at a children’s toy factory. From time to time, after a few fingers of juice, he likes to remind himself how much men suffer for children. It makes him laugh. It’s a line from a movie he loves.
At night he eats Payday candy bars.