Saturday, September 30, 2006


by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The oil man poked the back yard until it looked like a sponge and everywhere he poked, black muck came to the surface. Dad looked like he had looked a few weeks after my little sister, Shirley, died.

"How much to get it out of the ground and get rid of it?" he asked the oil man. The oil man was young and skinny and wore a stained white jumpsuit with powder blue pinstripes. Except for his bright red cap, he looked like his job and his life had sucked the color out of him.

"Gonna run probably 'bout five bucks a gallon, I 'magine," he said, snorting as he wiped his nose with a finger.

"Five bucks? That's fucking robbery! I remember my uncle paying a buck twenty-five a gallon when he got oil in his yard!"

"Buck twenty-five was thirty years ago, maybe," the oil man said. "We got more work than we can handle nowadays. Everybody's got oil. There's only so much you can refine, before you gotta start finding places to put it."

"I'll haul it off myself thanks," Dad said. "Five bucks'll bankrupt me."

"I know how it is. It's bankrupting whole countries out there in the Mid-East. They're drownin' in the shit. Awright, you got my card if you need me, but the way things are goin' it might be up to six bucks next week."

"Six bucks my ass," Dad muttered.

"What are we gonna do, Dad?" I asked him after the oil man left.

"Your cousin's got a truck with a hose. We might be able to skim it off the top or something. Pay the refinery to take that much at a time and hopefully I won't have to go to the bank."

"Dad, the refinery pays people to burn it all in their cars and furnaces. With everyone burning as much as they can, we're destroying the world."

"Take a look around the yard, son. The world's already destroyed. All there's left to do is sweep it under each other's rugs."