The Trashman Cometh
by A.W. McKinnon
On Mondays, retiree William Bagley would move a kitchen stool to the living room window. From there he would watch as the trash truck stopped at the curb. Next to the stool, on a small table, lay a note pad and pencil.
Except for holidays, the trash truck stayed on schedule and arrived between 10:20 and 10:25 Monday mornings. William Bagley’s notes, kept over the past two months, reflected the consistency of the driver and his helper.
He had no quarrel with the driver. William Bagley's interest lay with the helper who rode on the back of the truck, the one who carried the trash container from the curb and dumped its contents into the compactor. This helper never varied but was always the same thin man with long hair pulled back into a ponytail.
William Bagley could glance at his notes and see his scribbled words to describe the man, words such as bonehead, dimwit, imbecile, and jerk.
The helper tossed containers to the curb after he emptied the contents into the truck, an act that sent containers and lids flying. William had replaced three containers because of the helper’s thoughtless, disrespectful actions. He wanted him disciplined, or better, fired.
For two months he took notes. Five times he had called to complain about the helper. The woman who answered the phone at City Waste promised she would bring his complaint to the attention of management, yet nothing changed.
Three times he had written letters of complaint to the company; all went unanswered. William Bagley sensed that the helper knew of these phone calls and letters. When he threw the trash container to the curb, he would stare toward William’s living room window, as if he knew William watched.
This Monday would be different. No more notes, no letters or phone calls. He would address the problem face to face with the helper.
William Bagley stood at the curb next to his trash container and waited for the trash truck and the bastard helper. He glanced at his watch. 10:20. He could hear the truck on the next block.
The trash truck turned onto his street. He watched the helper empty his neighbors’ trash containers. True to form, the helper threw the containers back to the curb, and sent lids rolling down the street, containers bouncing behind them. William Bagley fumed. His blood pressure elevated and pushed blood to his face as he waited.
The truck rolled to a stop. The helper jumped from his station on the back of the truck and walked toward William Bagley and his trash container. Without looking at William, the helper picked up the container, carried it to the truck and emptied the contents. The helper raised the empty trash container over his head and threw it to the curb. The container bounced down the street. The lid rolled a short distance and then came to rest at the curb. The helper turned his back on William, as if he were invisible, and stepped up to his station on the back of the truck.
William Bagley screamed and rushed toward the truck. He grabbed the handle and pulled himself up onto the step where the helper stood. He lashed out at him with his fist. The helper leaned away from the punch and cursed. William drew back and rammed his fist at the man again. The force of William’s second punch was so powerful that missing its target carried him off the step and into the compactor. As he fell, he could hear the helper shout to the driver, “Okay, move it.”
The driver released the brakes and rolled down the Street. William Bagley fought to pull himself out of the garbage. He cursed at the helper and struggled to stand. He reached for the side of the truck to balance himself, but his hands were useless against the slime, and he lost his balance and fell back into the foul smelling filth. The helper hung onto the back of the truck, his head thrown back in laughter.
The truck moved faster now. William Bagley tried to throw himself forward, over the trash and garbage, in an attempt to reach the opening and his freedom. He landed short, and again sank into the fetid depths. His eyes and nostrils burned from the slush and stench. A foul taste in his mouth caused him to gag and spit. If only he could stay on his feet, but the truck moved too fast. He shook his fist at the helper. Over the roar of the truck, he still heard him laughing. Exhausted, he dropped to his knees, covered his face with his hands, and slipped deeper and deeper into the muck.
A.W. McKinnon is a seventy-one year old aspiring writer residing in Southern Illinois. This is his first publication.