Friday, January 13, 2012

Grunstein's Sabbath (a short story)

             Walking back from the market with a bag of white bread and milk, Grunstein spied a slate gray Fishbein maintenance truck parked in front of one of the other Fishbein buildings on the block. The van was loaded down with ladders, cables, buckets, like a peddler’s cart in the old country.  Catching his breath, Grunstein looked around.  Seven AM, no one in this neighborhood awake yet.  As quickly as his body allowed, Grunstein slid between the narrow space flanked by the van and wall.  He slowly lowered himself to his knees in front of the front tire.  It took a monumental effort.  He fumbled in the breast pocket of his jacket.  He found his nail clipper and with shaking hands, released the file.  It took some time, but he lined it up with the small black nozzle used to inflate the tire, and pressed.  The sporadic hissing made a sound not unlike Grunstein’s attempts to relieve his faulty bladder.  A hiss followed by a lull followed by a hiss.  This made Grunstein chuckle, and then cough.  When the tire rim was flat against the asphalt he raised himself with a colossal marshaling of his will.  He looked at the despoiled tire and did not think the effect was sufficiently dramatic, so he repeated the performance at the rear tire.  When he righted himself, his arthritic knees pulsed liquid with pain.  But he looked at the van, satisfied with his work:  it listed to the port side like a boat cracked in its hull, taking on water and poised to flounder.  When he got back to his apartment, he took two pills and fell in bed.

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