Friday, January 28, 2005

the colour brown...

Yesterday, my young friend [14 years old] was telling me she has a place she looks at every morning to see how far the water's gone down...the garden wall.

Everyone has a measuring spot they obsess about. If you mention yours they practically insist that theirs is the more accurate spot.

My mother - the fire hydrant.

Neighbour - the Suriname Princess's garden bench.
I - the electrical outlet in the stairwell, the door in the stairwell, our gate.

[I must therefore be the most obsessed.]

Well, when I looked this morning, the stairwell was empty.

[Yesterday the stench was Vile. Foul. Fetid. Repugnant. As if the jumbies were partying down there, as if they'd arrived straight from their beds underground. I threw Ajax Floral Fiesta Antibacterial Cleaner. For good measure I added bleach. Baking soda. More baking soda. The smell grew worse].

This morning...jubilation. The jumbies had gone with their Eau de Dead. [Eau, by the way, is French for 'water', isn't it?].

Then Neighbour phoned. She had donned her long boots and gone to look at her rooms downstairs, down to the toilet there.

The septic tank has overflowed into the downstairs toilet.

She hurriedly closed the door.

She went back upstairs.

Five minutes later she went back down to look. Just in case what she had seen was not true.

It was true.

She went back upstairs, sat down, and said in a quiet little voice, "Oh my gosh."

When her husband came home she told him to go look. He looked. He went upstairs. He stared at her.

This midday the garbage truck came, braaaping its horn. I gathered the two weeks of garbage bags together, donned my boots, closed my eyes and prayed. I went downstairs.

Have you ever seen that movie, The night of the living dead, with all them people rising from their graves, "clodded" with earth and strange things, dragging through people's homes?

Downstairs looks and smells like them creatures had dragged through. Brown leaves, brown wood, brown unidentifiable lumps...

Brown brown brown.

The smell of brown.

As for the car. Fungus on the seats. Fungus on the steering wheel. Fungus on the doors inside. There is a fungus amongus, and it smells like ripe brown cheese. Plus.

We're alive, twenty oh five.