American Firework

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The truth of the american dream

Text of American Firework



  • A baby cried and the power left the delivery room.The mothers last beat settled just before a name escaped.And with feet kicking, a blanket was pulled over his eyes.

  • 3

  • BANG! Tears welled behind tightly closed eyelids. The numbness turning to an unbelievable pressure that slowly ascended from the tip of his nostrils to the space between his eyes. A gentle trickle of blood ran down the bridge of his nose and dripped across his lip, splashing onto the damp cloth of his school-issued white cotton t-shirt. The other boys walked away laughing, kicking stones as they neared the schoolhouse entrance.

  • 5

  • His father brushed the black dirt from the small of his back. Just a small brown stain on his shoulder and a patch of blood across his collar left as evidence of the event. He wiped a tear from the young boys eye; a mothers job in the families of his friends; a mothers job in the families of his enemies. But only men resided above these creaking and warped floorboards.Well, one man, says the boy. One man, one boy. He says, wiping the tears and mucus from his upper lip.Someday, Someday. His father whispered, embrac-ing the boy between thick warm shoulders.

    His drowning eyes began to clear and move from wall to wall. Photos of his father hung and he continually shook hands with various masters of their respective universe. The arms squeezed hard but the wear of the past fifty years was evident. His fathers breath was light and airy but his voice was strong. The boy felt his fathers tough hands built from years of digging, only recently coming to fruition in this tightly woven wool overcoat. These photos; the proof of this success.Someday. The boy said and he rested his face on the strong shoulder before him and stared into the hand-shakes that covered the walls.

  • 7

  • He scribbled faces and cartoons around the sentences that described things a teacher was spouting from across the room, constantly thrusting a pointer to-ward the same four words on the blackboard. The boy scratched at the short stubble that had started to grow around his jaw but, frustratingly, came only in patches. A ball of crumpled paper wandered onto his desk and hit his pen. He glanced up and jumped a bit, peering around the room.A faint smile from a girl across the room.Young, bright, long brown hair. He smiled back and read the carefully crafted note; the is dotted with small hearts and hahas and smiley faces scattered throughout. A grin escaped the boys face and the girls eyelids closed, reemerging fo-cused at the desk. A grainy photo of the mother never known fluttered into the light and the boy looked back at his paper. The grin now let free, flood gates wide open. She was beautiful.

  • 9

  • The sun was going down now and a blanket of orange was creeping over the group of kids lounging in tattered lawn-chairs. The boy and his girl sat together, hands clasped and forearms resting on each others thigh. Blushing as their hairs prick up and stand on end.The fire and his girl grew warm.Someday. He said, eyes fixed firmly on the fire.

    The boy shot through the ranks. Pleasant, married, rising. New ideas, new processes, massive savings and raise after raise he returned to his girl who always greeted him from the granite countertop, dinner wait-ing and a kiss on the lips before he headed for a hot shower. So was the routine practiced for years. The apartment grew to a condo, the condo to a suburban home. The awards and plaques, family photos and mementos hung on the newly painted walls. But a dark-ness spread from the corner of the living room.A crib sat, empty and unkempt, the slightest amount of light streaming beneath the cupboards onto the pink flowered pattern. The boy caught a slight reflection from the silver bolts and his eyes were reminded of the anticipation and excitement and he stepped into the steaming shower and rays of water ran down his chest to the drain.

  • 11

  • Blanket in hand, hours of pain behind them, but the tiny girl lay as still as his own breath, as cold as the hospital air.

    The boy walked to the table, still dabbing his hair with the damp towel and sat down. One plate, one glass, one chair and one fork. Nothing but the food in his eyes, nothing but the crib in his mind. Steam pulsated and escape from the cracked open door of the bathroom.

    He held her and wrapped the small pink blanket around her tiny shoulders, shook her tiny hand. He wanted so deeply to look into her eyes and see the love he felt. But there were only peace in the girl he held.

    His girl sat, lounged in the soft couch on the right of the room. Reality television sounding with a near empty glass of chardonnay in her hand. The rest of the bottle lay on the floor by her feet. His fork screeched against the glass plate. Glass collided with glass and the boy, glanced up, peering around the room. Wine dropped from the mouth of the bottle and splashed, rush-ing around and up the sides of the glass his wife held loosely. There was no paper rolling across the table, no grin or faint smile from either party.

    He leaned his head against the glass and watched as the doctors talked with his wife. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she stared at the motionless pink blan-ket. His phone rang and, sighing, he glanced down. The Office blinked with each ring and with one last look at his wife, he answered the call.

  • 13

  • Cigars burned and smoke spewed from the open mouths of the shareholders. A record-breaking quarter.A record high value.Champagne was poured from glass to glass around the circle of over-the-hill masters of the stock market. The boy, in his first thousand dollar suit and tie, sips on a glass of red wine and watches the group from just outside the swinging double-doors. Just months ago his character, intelligence, and ability was scrutinized for days by these very peo-ple. His history, his wealth, his credit. Nothing was quite good enough for these mens money unless it got results, and even then, your time was limited.

    He took a deep breath and wiped the sweat from his brow. The glass shook and ice clanked against the sides. The circle parted as he walked forward and the people raised their glasses to the air. To a great quarter and many to come. The men never even stopped sucking in air long enough to here his toast, yet they all yelled, clanked their half-full glasses and downed the remains. The men each shook hands with the boy but looked past him as they did. Their hands were cold and their good wishes empty. Money flew into their pockets but how and from where were secondary to them.

  • 15

  • The boy set down his glass and walked into his dark office still cluttered with papers, pencils, calculators, books on law and business and hundreds of printouts on everything from insurance to zoning permits. The light crept in through the keyhole and the hoops and hollers slithered their way to his desk.Distant.Someday. He said with the laughs of congratulations slowly getting more raucous with each glass down.

  • 17

  • Another day down and another creaking and groan-ing turn of the key in his front door. The granite countertop was bare and the oven was covered in envelopes and papers. The microwave had taken over the kitchen. He popped open a bottle of scotch and took a deep gulp, savoring the liquor between his cheeks before swallowing and pulling one last drag from his cigarette as he started toward the upstairs bedroom. Along the walls, the promising and opti-mistic family photos had been removed. No young couple smiled to the camera. Instead, he watched a series that documented the rise of his company. Handshakes and papers signed followed him up the stairs to his dark room. One pillow on the bed, the remote already on the nightstand, and a Chinese take-out menu sitting by the phone. He drank his scotch and sank into the mattress, shirt and tie still tight around his body.

  • 19

  • Portfolios smacked the hard hickory table the stretched from the boys lap. Fifteen feet of people gnawing and clawing at the boys cufflinks. Tugging at his shoelaces and each mapping the best route to the top.His mind was shot. Another night of sitting at his desk till late in the night. A bottle of scotch on the left, a computer screen in front and a phone glued to his ear as he barked orders to a factory manager about slow production. The numbers were down and it was doing nothing to help the boys routine of obsessive work. It had been weeks since he ate a meal at his home, days since he answered the door, and probably months since he had an interaction without mentioning the company. Something Different.Instead of intense eyes and pensive brows, there was an eerie excitement to the air. The parasites seemed almost pleased. A glossy sheen ran over the boys wrinkled nose and receding gray hair.

    The V.P. stood and made his case.A two-thirds majority vote on the mental health and physical ability of the boy. The decision: voluntary resignationThe boys heart stopped and his eyes seemed to bulge from behind his eyelids. A stuttered phrase.Its decided. A tall thin man said with a quiver and a sniff, and the rest of the attendees approved with a nod.

  • 21

  • But this is my company! My whole life!Only eyes staring back at him.A cold stone was placed on the boys chest and he grasped for air. Icy stares met his flailing pleads with disguist.

    He rose and walked out of the room. Whispers and awkward looks passed as the double glass doors swung open. The receptionist chattered and tapped the keyboard while the meeting carried on and the boy sank into the cool black leather of his desk-chair and gazed at the tabletop. A photo of his father looke