first he turned the screws

First he turned the screws in the robot’s back panel, then he raced into the kitchen to get a pot of coffee brewing. He watered a basil plant before rolling up a cigarette but leaving it unsmoked. He refreshed the podcast feed on his phone lit a candle before pouring his cuppa and leaving it beside the pot. He turned another screw then drew up a sketch of a landscape, then rushed out to the mall to buy paints.

every weekday

Every weekday, construction workers scurry over the skeletal building, like silent film stars viewed in the modern era. Bangs and crashes and great KAPOWs echo across the paved landscape, til the exhausting roar of a city bus, thick with human figures, obscures them.
When Saturday rolls around, only tarps flapping in the breeze move. The busses’ roars obscures that, too.

flight attendant attire

Flight attendant attire, scuffed and broken shoes. Sprightly walk between offices, muffled carpet sighs. No phone works – another dead dial tone, bzzz. An email instead, un courriel. Sent, received; no reply. Another coffee, extra sugar. Another email, still nothing; no phone either. Bitten nails in the setting sun, automatic lights shut off, absent motion. Flailing arms at the sensors, but darkness remains.

Aaron Barker


Aaron Barker mowed lawns five days a week and in the rainy season turned over to flood drainage. In the new year of, let me say, ’97, he ruin’t his own tools and gizmos in a flood of his own, water rushin’ in his basement workshop and all, so he needed a loan from his brother. He went with his gas-guzzling pickup, effective nine-tenths of the time, hauling mowers and wheelbarrows but ugly, unwieldy, when hosting naught but one desperate man. Pulling into the lot at his brother’s place, he jerked the wheel just in time to avoid a half-foot deep pothole coulda swallowed your dog. His brother gave him the loan after a long, frank, and embarrassing conversation on the microfibre sectional, but insisted on quarterly interest. Barker found a few new clients and mowed six days a week, but the gear he replaced exceeded the value of the loan, and as the season worsened, and homes started flooding, he found himself helpless. When his brother’s entire apartment complex flooded with five feet of water or more, and Barker orchestrated the bulk of the clean-up with contractors and rented gear, his brother invested in his LLC. These days Barker mows a couple days a week and when it rains, his guys clear the pipes as he sucks on a smoothie and snoozes.