You Couldn’t Mistake It for an Oil Puddle – Benjamin Brindise
David Carter walks down the street when the building overlooking him says, “Fuck off.”
He tells it sorry, drops his eyes to the ground, and keeps walking. The sidewalk asks what he’s looking at so David Carter closes his eyes and tries to cross the street. A car hits him. His head splits. He dies.
The building laughs. The sidewalk can’t see.
The asphalt is stained with David Carter’s blood. No matter how many times they repair the street, the stain remains. At first Building is proud, looks down at it every morning and tells Sidewalk, “They may knock me down one day, but I took one with me.”
For a long time Sidewalk is quiet. Years. When water gets in Sidewalk’s cracks, forms ice, and begins to separate Sidewalk from itself, it does not make a sound.
People die inside Building. Building can not see inside its stomach, but Building can feel their collective grief. Without seeing them with their hands on the wrecking ball lever Building almost feels bad. Almost.
They will come for Building eventually like a monster on a hill. No one will feel bad about it.
Still, as the decades pass and the stain in the street seems to get darker instead of fade – you couldn’t mistake it for an oil puddle or some A/C run off – building begins to lose certainty.
Around then, Building starts to hear them in small groups out front. There are papers pinned to its facade it can not read. It hears them make sounds they haven’t before. “Historic” and “preservation.”
Building becomes aware it can feel parts of itself it never had. After they laid its last brick, everything was tight and firm and secure. Building has never felt its plinth before, but now it’s all it can feel. Building realizes in time, things get loose. Things get in.
When the wind blows Building feels its ridge cap, soffit, wall studs, floor joist, interior partition wall, exterior siding, main girder, and backfill. It can even feel its grade level, the top soil around Building connecting it to the earth.
The day comes and so does the wrecking ball. Building planned on being defiant. It was big and they were small, but it couldn’t seem to do anything expect look at the stain David Carter’s brains had left on the street all those years before. It was supposed to provide solace, a sign that while it may fall, it wouldn’t have gone down alone, but worse than the opposite there was just nothing. Nothing but waiting to be a stain, too.
As the wrecking ball rolls up, a group of people with signs and a bullhorn run out in front of Building. They make a lot of noise. Eventually the wrecking ball rolls away. The people leave. Night comes.
Building says, “I’m not supposed to be here anymore. Maybe I wasn’t ever supposed to be here. They built me, I didn’t ask to be built.”
Sidewalk says, “Neither did David Carter and we killed him anyway. You didn’t deserve being saved.”
Building says, “You’re right” and collapses.
Just Buffalo teaching artist Benjamin Brindise is the author of the chapbook ROTTEN KID (Ghost City Press, 2017), the full length collection of poetry Those Who Favor Fire, Those Who Pray to Fire (EMP Books, 2018), and the short fiction micro chap The Procession (Ghost City Press, 2018). He has represented Buffalo, NY in the National Poetry Slam in 2015, 2016, and 2018, helping Buffalo to place as high as 9th in the country. His poetry and fiction has been published widely online and in print including Maudlin House, Trailer Park Quarterly, and Peach Mag.