Issue 01

Pollution

H e really was a strange little bald man. Not quite tweed jacket pulled close to him, furtive and alone, stealing down to the creek bank where the light caught his glasses and the waves. I didn’t believe it really, the first time I saw him kneeling there; sternly, sweatily uncorking the bottle of cleaning fluids he poured into the water like a solemn rite. There was something ritual, even aesthetic about his hands, the smoothed-out face with eyes defocused, far away.

Uh. Sir?

He looked like a train had hit him, full to the brim with a nasty, shamed anger.

Can I help you?

Are you pouring cleaning chemicals into the––

It’s none of your fucking business what I’m doing, actually.

Mid-snarl I realized he was squat, strong. Weird the way he looked so weak from far away.

I walked off, watched him put the bottle back into the little plastic sack he’d bought, saw the slip for four dollars and ninety-four cents lilt out into the grass.

***

I ‘d watch him every Sunday. Same bag, same receipt. He’d watch the different colors eddy through the creek, boots tamping down the browning rim of grass around his favorite spot. Same routine: march down, pop the cap, a long and lonesome pour into the gently flowing bank. Then back up to his truck, week after week. Most of the time he never knew that I was there; I mostly never stopped him, even when I wanted to.

One time I did.

Get the fuck out of here, he’d said.

Why are you doing that?

I told you to get the fuck out of here. Get out.

You can’t do that, man. Seriously.

His face was filled with blood and I could hear his exhales. I walked away again, stood off to the side, watched him finish. He was breathing heavy like that for a while, heaving it toward the creek until the pace slowed and finally settled.

On his way back he was crying.

Andrew Roxby grew up and went to college in Nashville, where books, especially literature and poetry, were his solace, teachers, mentors. He recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing for television.

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