General Bereavement in the Time of Hammers

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The carriers were getting bored with delivering hammers to the unaware typists. Screwdrivers would have been better for all involved, but just then it was hammers, and there wasn’t much to be done about it. At least not from the perspective of the carriers. The carriers had to be involved; they’d do just about anything to stay involved.

Foremost and most salient, being a carrier meant being involved. That’s why they became carriers in the first place; they wanted to be involved. Staying involved was of the utmost importance to the carriers. The carriers had thoughts of other careers only when boredom struck, at around 4:30 in the afternoon, after all the deliveries had been delivered. The carriers had ideas about other ways to make ends meet. But it wasn’t anything substantial, just flighty notions, just amorous drifting, just balled-up socks in a bottom drawer.

The carriers wore knuckle-less gloves, and their knuckles took quite a pounding. But they needed the touch, that tense tactile feel of fingertips, to carry. If the wind was out pushing them around, well, that was something they could handle. The carriers did not shy from wind. Though sometimes they did wonder what the wind would say to them if it had a voice. If the wind could speak would it say, “Carriers! I am the wind! Listen to my conch-shell roar. I will pockmark you with the clichés of robins. I wish my breath would stink of beluga caviar. My presence alone will destroy you. You will all be winded. Scoreboard!” They had these odd thoughts about ordinary things.

The carriers made haste in their travails. They pounced on lesser-involved breadwinners. They out-foxed source material. There was a picture postcard fluttering in their nightmares; it was of raw ground buffalo beef, turtle shells, and a dwarf in a burgundy knee-length dress suffering from a blue-ringed octopus bite, all under the metallic glint of a carburetor-silver sky. Carriers had things to do at night. They made pushpin pillows. They dove from piers. They worked on their stew-stirring skills. Boredom rarely entered the equation, but when it did, well, there were more serious issues going on then, and things could stay solved only if they out calculated the difference, diametrically.

The carrier-hammer situation was something that needed to be dealt with. It needed dealing with terribly, like a runaway muffin delivery truck in search of an emergency escape ramp. Everyone agreed on this. The typists certainly, although very oblivious at all times, would spell-check their daydreams before knocks summoned them to the door. (Oh yes. Here it was: another hammer being delivered. It was becoming too usual.) The typists were hunting for nails before long, but, of course, they would only be hurt and diminished by this fruitless quest. Felled by the broad keystrokes of carpal-tunnel thieves and the typos of inky fingertipped hooligans, there was really nothing more for them to do but continue typing and drink marmalade tea by the bucketful, like rainwater, only with some fluoride added in for their own upkeep.

The carriers felt it was time for a change. Recalcitrance entered the stacked reams of conspiratorial tomes in their consciousness like a cold glass of Wite-Out. Hardly a minute went past when they didn’t contemplate chancing their whole careers for the dream of an uprising. The carriers stopped showering. A sacrificial, spiteful stink became their solidarity. Sometimes one of them would use blunt-nosed thumb forceps to pry open a Super-Glued-shut mailbox. It rarely worked, but when it did, well, that was something inordinately special.

The hammers kept coming. Droves of hammers. A pounding of hammers. Hammers to fill warehouses. More hammers than could be safely contemplated. They were swimming in hammers, up to their ears in hammers, hammered with hammers: ball-peen hammers, claw hammers, dead blow hammers, lump hammers, framing hammers, upholstery hammers, sledgehammers, dog-head hammers, twist hammers, bush hammers, and even a few rubber mallets. Nobody was quite sure where all the hammers were coming from. But one thing was for certain: they would not stop coming.

Once a carrier asked another superior-by-far carrier, “If a hammer could swim, what would be its favorite stroke? Or would the hammer even swim at all? And why would a hammer want to swim in the first place? Is sinking in the hammer’s nature, or would it strive for the high ideals of the surface?” The question fell upon deaf ears, as the superior-by-far carrier was wearing his honeycomb earplugs, and did not bat an eyelash at anything spoken to him, ever, when he had his ears plugged like that. Silence was his only garden, and a pyrite one at that.

Trepidation swept in, and change came on. The carriers began to question their role as lackeys shackled to the Words-Per-Minute whims of some arbitrary higher power. If they could plant things, if they had plows and scythes and hoes, if they had seeds and acres of fecund land, if the agrarian demands of society would just get some damn chutzpah already and rise up — well, then the carriers would be able to do something productive and not have to schlep around all their days merely delivering an endless supply of hammers to these heedless typists. It was something to contemplate. Events were commiserating with never-taken routes towards vague goals. The typists grew impatient with the capricious nature of supply and demand. Words were exchanged, though what words and between who remained unclear.

After a short “down-and-out truce” among all parties, a jubilee time was set upon. The typists took their newfound hammers to the streets. The carriers, who up until this point had concentrated on delivering with a little ordering on the side, now concentrated their efforts on ordering full-time, and the relationship between these two parties, not without a dash of civility, changed. Hammers came to represent status, worth as an individual, rationality and willingness to pragmatically achieve sovereignty that would yield results of any sort. This meant not only opportunity but also danger for any hammer-wielding typist, as the very hammer that made them powerful also made them vulnerable. A ravishing monster with an insatiable appetite was being fed with briskets of fear.

The carriers did not know sides; for them there was only one concomitant we. It materialized like an ancient post office and stamped envelopes in their dreams, as they lay shiftless and panicky in the cantankerous folds of sleep. What would they carry if they could no longer carry hammers? What had they done before? How had they gone about life without the constant duty to routine that hammers required of them? It was difficult to remember. Hammers had become all they knew, and they couldn’t now imagine living without them, though before this Time Of Hammers they had lived well without a single one. Somehow it had not mattered before, but now it was all that mattered. The hammers had come to dominate their lifestyle completely; they could not live without them.

The typists evolved to become no longer content with sedentary habits. Lacunas of wild nothings entwined their modus vivendi like cymbal-clashes of bright, like clanking seidels in barrooms, like the diglossic mutters of used-car salesmen committing treacherous acts of mytacism, and it was all moving forward with an unprepared rattler-snap of discontent. The hammers became unavailable for ordering. There was no carrying left to be done.

Nobody cared about the carriers as much as they used to. They forged ahead without purpose or goal as the wily typists adapted to the unique circumstances that had shaped a scared new frame of mind onto the scene. They scoffed at the carriers who knew only a smidgen of how and not a lick of why, whose need to be involved was only surpassed by their ignorance of what made the whole ruckus affair tick. Hammers. It was all hammers. Nothing could be accomplished without hammers. And the typists had a bounty of them to wield and to hold over whomever they wished. All the carriers could do to compete was to perform tasks at the typists’ bidding. Everyone became settled on this, “just being the way things are, now, and there’s nothing to be done about it, so might as well just carry on.”

A proclamation was made: “The hammer swings. Justice is doled out. Carrying has gone out of style, to say the least. Those who control the hammers shall be blessed with an inordinate amount of power over those who do not. All the riches of this world cannot be had equally. Some will have; most will have not.”

A scruffy kid without shoes stubbed his toe on something in the dirt. He winced in pain. A man came up to him and told him, “Holy shit. You’ve just kicked at a hammer, kid. Good luck with that.”

The kid just stared back at him, innocent and angry. And then he asked the man, “What’s a hammer?”

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