victory shifteth from man to man


People said that Craig Gonzalez looked like Frankenstein, “but cute.” Well, he assumed that people said that about him, “people” as opposed to the two petite flautists he’d actually overheard saying it. What were the chances that he’d overheard it the first and only time it had been said?

*

It was a little like when he’d been playing the piano in the lounge of Johnston Hall, and Buttfuck the Guitarist had been listening in the next room, unseen by Craig Gonzalez, though all he’d had to do was raise his head and he would have seen Buttfuck the Guitarist. But he tended not to raise his head when he was playing the piano. If he’d raised his head that other time, he probably would have noticed the flames shooting out of the toaster oven. He tended to keep his head down and to make a humming noise, which he himself didn’t notice unless he concentrated very hard on noticing it.

*

Then Buttfuck the Guitarist had gone home and told Brant Wojack who lived next door to Buttfuck the Guitarist. Craig Gonzalez was pretty good friends with Brant Wojack. And the next day Craig Gonzalez was telling Brant Wojack all the reasons why he’d been too busy to call Brant Wojack, and Brant Wojack, said, Well, not too busy to be playing the piano in the lounge of Johnston Hall, apparently. Brant Wojack sometimes hung out on the path outside Craig’s dorm, pretending it was coincidental that he just happened to be there when Craig Gonzalez stumbled back to his dorm.

*

The clothes dryer was making a loud noise, typical for his sister’s mixed bag of a domicile. So he put some toast in the toaster oven which he had to remember did not pop toast of its own accord—had not popped toast for some years now. Shut the laundry room door, shut the kitchen door. Hummed obliviously. Craig Gonzalez had great big tendon-encircled forearms from all the hours he’d spent wrestling with his sister’s awesomely uncooperative piano.

*

Luckily the toaster oven was plugged in right next to the big double sink, so all he’d needed to do was grab the toaster oven, which was spewing flames and scorching the bottom of the cabinet, and avoid the flames by holding the toaster oven at arm’s length and reach around the flames to pull the plug and deposit the toaster oven in the sink and run the water to douse the flames. And write his sister an apologetic note and remind her that electronic appliances that have been submerged should not ever be used again, and that he’d reimburse her somehow for the electronic appliance.

*

But of course the next time he went to her house the toaster oven was plugged in again, making toast. Of course! Just like all the times he’d cautioned her that the pantry immediately adjacent to the forced-air furnace wasn’t the best place to store canned goods. Then he’d been desperate one afternoon and eaten a can of salmon straight from the can, and whoop, the next thing he knew he was in the E.R. at Sacred Wallet with a nurse about to shoot a pint of antibiotics into, of all places, his butt. Maybe because the butt is not far away from the stomach?

*

He bumped into Brant Wojack outside his dorm, well what do you know. Brant Wojack had a big goofy smile on his face and took a little notebook out of his back pocket and showed Craig Gonzalez his profound observation: In the University neighborhood, joggers smile at you. Craig Gonzalez decided he would be kind to Brant Wojack for a while. They went together to the lounge of Johnston Hall and Craig Gonzalez played the piano in the main room while Brant Wojack played the electronic organ in the other room. Whenever he played a piano other than his sister’s, it felt like he’d been working out with a double set of ankle weights on and then had removed the ankle weights.

*

The gas furnace kept turning itself on, shutting off, every few minutes. Obviously that couldn’t be good. Craig Gonzalez called it to his sister’s attention. She wouldn’t do anything about it, but he wanted to be on record as calling life-threatening hazards to the attention of his dear sister. He at least owed her that for her generosity in letting him play the piano whenever he wanted, that is whenever he wanted and she wasn’t home.

*

His sister went to a conference for radiology technicians in Colorado Springs, and Craig invited Brant Wojack and Buttfuck the Guitarist over to jam. It went really well except for the stopped-up toilet. Also they’d lit candles and put the candleholders on the “good” end tables in the living room. But it went really well, Brant Wojack playing the electronic organ in the guest room, the organ that his sister had won by filling out a zillion entry forms at Chick-fil-A. Somehow though the candle wax dripped onto the end tables, and Craig Gonzalez spent the whole next day peeling off candle wax with his thumbnail, and for a whole week he couldn’t let anything get within inches of the end of his thumb.

*

Then his sister died in a plane crash on the way to a career-building retreat in Colorado Springs. He loved his big sister, and she was gone, just like that. But he had a lot of resilience, like the time his mother had told them she’d just been diagnosed with brain cancer, and he’d immediately gone out back and started shooting free throw after free throw so he didn’t have to think about his mother. Or the time he’d bombed his Geo final and walked nineteen miles in the dark, making resolutions. Now he would never play the Happy Song again with his sister, their famous sweet duet. He took his iRig keyboard out into the back yard with his phone and played his part of the Happy Song, played around with it, added some stuff, added some more stuff, until it wasn’t the Happy Song any more. After that he went and made it back into the Happy Song.  

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