We swept the leaves and piled them high. The pile didn’t block the sun or anything, but it took a half minute to circumnavigate. We used a battery-powered soup blender to reduce the leaves to chips, then granulate, then powder. We added water from the lake and two sacks of cement. Other stuff got mixed in: bugs, hair, dirt, cigarette butts and at least one dead field mouse. We used a shoebox as a mould, slapped in the pulp with a rusted trowel. It took three days for the bricks to dry. Winter at the door, we started laying brick. With a little imagination, the pile that had been leaves started to resemble a leafy yurt, vaguely.
Things hadn’t worked out at our previous addresses. There’d been a squat in Camden Town, a flat-share in Berlin and a Christmas on the streets. There’d been a neurotic great aunt on Rhode Island. Don’t know what we were thinking. There was the bivouac in The Adirondacks. We’d liked it there, until the weather changed and some bears moved us on. So we walked south, into Fall. Winter never far behind. We traveled light, apart from carrying our yearbooks, my mother’s cookbook, and the twelve hundred page printout of the family tree. This was stuff we burned to keep us warm. We watched my ancestors rise in the smoke. Comes a time to let go. The paper gone, we spooned to stay warm.
The bricks rise with the days. The sky says snow. On a Wednesday, a fat man with square glasses stops by from the Buildings and Planning Authority. He gets out of his car, says “The hell are you kids doing?” His voice is octaves above where he’d probably want it to be. He places his briefcase on a stack of bricks, sits on it and crosses his legs; tries to cross his legs, it doesn’t work and they fall apart. He is too fat to cross anything. His hands haven’t seen each other since he was a lad. But he’s beautiful like a Botero is beautiful. We tell him so, “You’re beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” We could go on but he waves for us to stop. We quiet down. “So,” he says. He lights a long thin cigarette, blows out the match and drops it at his feet. “Let’s take a look at this baby.”
Kevin O'Cuinn lives and plays in Frankfurt on The Main. Links to his work can be found at www.kevsville.blogspot.com