“I’d Rather Be Metal Than Meat” (A short story)

Sunbeams filled the dilapidated car and the glare blinded Emanuel. His fingers slid easily around the glossy frame of the laminated wood wheel as he pretended to navigate the old town car around the burial mounds of batteries and plastic bags. The heat of the sun had rendered the leather seat malleable and it stuck to the underside of Emanuel’s bare knees.

The trash yard slid beneath the dusk and Emanuel heard Mr. Valera shout for one of the workers to close the old metal fence gate. Emanuel left the car and walked to the small bungalow office which held the office for the yard. He walked from the blue glow of late dusk into the artificial luminescence that radiated fromoff of the small building.

“One of these days you’ll fall asleep in that car and the rats will eat you!”

Mr. Valera grinned. His dark face was scrunched up and his taught skin looked like it was going to split. He grabbed a quarter of a lime off of a small cutting board on the old wooden counter and tossed it into his drink. Emanuel looked up at Mr. Valera from the old ragged armchair. The lime was magnified in the glass exposing many pores in the green portions and wrinkles and craters in the brown portions.

“That’s why I lock the door,” Emanuel said as he got up. He shook Mr. Valera’s hand and walked out of the junk yard office.

Walking under the empty night sky, the fog-distorted glow of the moon and the orange buzz of the street lamps lit the concrete grid of Emanuel’s suburban town. As he rounded Rockaway onto King street he spotted his uncle, Isaiah, sunk in an adirondack chair on his family’s wrap around porch. Behind his horn-rimmed glasses, Isaiah’s black eyes tracked Emanuel as he walked up to the old house.

Emanuel’s gait shrunk rapidly as he came to the slate stepping- stones that wouind through the grass lawn. Isaiah shouted to the boy, “It’s late, but sit up with me, you will be tired in the morning anyway.”

Emanuel sighed and whispered, “Alright.”

Smoke emerged from Isaiah’s mouth as he tapped the stub of a cigar in an adobe ashtray. His beard was brown, though it had a strong grain of grey on either side of his chin.
“One of the guys waiting at the courthouse today was wearing a black suit and a black shirt and a black tie. He actually looked pretty good. Maybe I should have Deb buy me some black shirts instead of just blue and white.”

A quiet settled over the pair. Emanuel looked at the dark street, but could hardly make out the trees decorating the sidewalk because of the light of athe lantern between him and them street. Isaiah clipped the end of another cigar and pushed himself up in his seat with his elbows pressing into the armrest. Emanuel sat down in the swinging bench and looked at his uncle in profile.