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  • Concrete, Inc.


    Concrete, Inc.



    Flat or lined??

    come in for estimate

    (corner of Market & Dailey)






    How’s it goin’?  Look at me and my smile!  See how happy I am to be waving at you?  Douchebags, all of them.  Out of every ten cars, one must have a person who thinks they recognize me.  My head sticking out.  A goddamned smile.  Is that…?  Whatever happened to…?  Well, you know what?  I recognize you, too!  I recognize all of you, sitting there looking ahead, seeing me wave out of the corner of your eye.  Should I make eye contact, you ask?  Is it rude not to?  Well, I’m busy.  I’m on my way to a very important meeting.  Vroom, vroom!  I bet you think I wish I was you, in a car, with head and limbs sticking out of a torso and not a goddamned wooden sign.  Read my chest!  Read my back!  Read my ass!  But you can’t; it’s covered.  I’m covered.  If I crouch down and huddle, the boards could be like the roof of an A-frame.  This is where I live!  Ha!  Welcome home!  Like a snail.  Like a goddamned turtle.  Come knocking and I’ll jump up!  Head!  Arm!  Arm! Two legs!  Like a starfish all spread out.  Look!  The sign has a body inside!  But when it rains, I can crouch back down and you all can just go to Hell.  And if I cross the street, I can still be home with the sign, under the sign.  I’ll go down the block… if I go wherever, I can be home.  Like a snail.  My trail of slime always reaching me, finding me.  Here I am!  Right here!  And here I’ll stay while you zoom away.  That guy’s driving like a maniac.  What an asshole.  But, I wave.  I’m friendly!  I like you and your cheap-ass car!  Be my friend and read my chest!  If the wind were strong enough, if a tornado came down the street right now, the sign boards would flap, flap, flap and I’d rise and wave goodbye.  So long, assholes!  With my wooden wings.  Maybe I’ll have chicken tonight.  Maybe nuggets or strips or fingers.  Waving fingers.  Toodle-loo!  I’ll give you a finger.  Like this!  Fuck you, all you assholes!  Fuck you!  I shouldn’t have done that.  What if someone complains?   No one probably saw anyway.  Hey look, that sign is flippin’ me off!  If I crouch down now…  I want to crouch down.  I want to go away.  A ways away.  No one will find me.  I’ll take the sign and it will be my disguise.  And it will be good business for those assholes, too!  They’ll be known wherever I go.  Go national!  Go global!  I’ll cross the street, I’ll fly away.  I could use a smoke right now.  Just one wouldn’t be bad.  I can still say I quit if I have just one a year.  I had one at that party last year.  Sitting on the porch.  Bumming cigarettes.  Watching smoke plume up and out.  Ashes twirl to the ground.  It’s been what, eight months?  One a year’s OK.  What am I thinking?  I don’t even have any fucking cigarettes!  I doubt a smoker will walk by.  They’ll cross the street if they see me.  Goddamn it.  Or a car.  It’ll roll up smooth.  The window will go down smooth.  Would you like a smoke?  Why, yes, I would!  Thank you ever so!  But it’ll never happen.  It’s just as well.  It’ll leave my hand free to wave, wave, wave!  Here I am!  There you go!  I’m not doing this again.  When I’m done, I’ll lift the sign off my shoulders like it’s the heaviest thing in the world.  Like all the weight of the world.  I’ll lift it off and throw it at their feet.  After I get paid, of course.  And then I’ll walk off, light and stripped and I’ll enter a new world.  I’ll let the doors shut behind me with a heavy sigh.  Another one.  Another one has come and gone.  We’ll hire someone else tomorrow.  We’ll always get someone else, and, to us, they’ll be just like you, they’ll be you.  Again.  Tomorrow.  I can’t quit.  I need the money.  Oh, my God… I want to jump into one of these cars and say, just go, go, don’t ever stop.  I don’t care in what direction.  I don’t care.  But I’m stuck.  My feet are planted just like this pole here, just like this light post, like all these things that stand like me, straight, some taller than others, towering and watching those that pass us by.  All these things help you to leave, help you get away, and we stay so you’ll know how far you’ve come.  How far you’ll go.  If I crouch down, deep down, underneath the sign, hugging my legs as the wind rattles the boards.  As the passing cars rattle the wind.  As the rotating earth rattles us all.  And when my shift is done, they’ll come and close the sign like you close the cover of a book.  Snap it shut.  Back inside.  And I’ll be wedged so tight, so tight, I’ll be spread out flat.  When the sign is opened tomorrow, I’ll be exposed as a sheet of paper.  I’ll peel off and, catching a current of air, drift away, unfurling as I go, waving as I become smaller and smaller, a speck in the sky.  I’ll be something you’ll see and think how far I have traveled, how far and long.  And if you try to read my chest before I fly away, you’ll only catch a glimpse.  The words on it will be mine.


    Concrete Inc



    Flat or lined

    come in for estimate

    corner of Market & Dailey






    About The Author

    Claudia 2

    Claudia Barbosa Nogueira

    Claudia Barbosa Nogueira was born in Brazil, and moved to the United States when she was 8 years old.  With that relocation experience deeply embedded in her psyche, Claudia has always been interested in the ways in which people construct home-spaces, places where they can belong. Her story “Concrete, Inc.” deals with this concern especially as it relates to class and economic opportunity.  Ms. Nogueira has been published in numerous venues, including two anthologies: Luso-American Literature: An Anthology of Writings by Portuguese-Speaking Peoples in North America, edited by Robert Moser and Luciano Tosta (Rutgers UP, 2011) and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourteenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (St. Martin’s Press, 2001).  Nogueira has also had stories published in such journals as 34th Parallel, Nimrod, Colorado Review, and the Berkeley Fiction Review, with poems published in places like 1 Over the 8 and the Berkeley Poetry Review.