By: Sam Reilly
The first item they pulled from our garbage was a used condom. Then they threw it at one another. By the time the trash men reached the last house on the last street—our house—they were routinely hammered.
I was grounded for pushing Tommy Doolittle into a set of lockers. Alone and sitting in my room with no iPad, iPhone, video games, television, or computer, per my punishment, I watched the drunken workers rummage through our rejected memories.
The pair of trash men reminded me of Disney characters, their features exaggerated and their movements sketched out to be slapstick comedy. It was like watching Jasper and Horace, incompetently taking my garbage.
They laughed at the old panties my mother discarded. They giggled like schoolboys and got a hard-on once they pulled out the black thong my college dropout of a sister had decided were no longer in style.
“I screwed this hot girl back in high school. She had a thong just like this.” Jasper remarked.
“Yeah? I bet you lost your lunch money in about 30 seconds too.” Horace coughed after his jab.
“Hey at least I got to spend my money. Can you even find your beanie weenie hiding under your belly?”
My sister was basically my mother, just 20 years younger. They had the same eyes, smoky and blue. They shared the same smile that would captivate a room while also possessing a temper that would scare the devil straight. Even their tears streamed down the same wrinkle lines near their lips.
Five months ago, my parents split up. Mom said it was because our father didn’t know how to treat a woman. My dad said it was because he was tired of carrying the weight of the family: the dog walking, the soccer practice, the electric bills, and the mortgage. Mostly he meant he was tired of carrying my mother.
“I just thought that he took out the trash.”
“You could say that too…” my sister replied.
I continued to watch Horace sort through the waste.
“You finding anything else good?” Jasper asked.
Three-week-old banana peels, empty bags of spinach. Mom had begun her juice diet after she hit 110 lbs. Proclaiming from the kitchen that no one would hop aboard her like this, a Newport snugly between her teeth. She was right. No one would hop aboard her, but it wasn’t because of her weight.
The last item fished from the waste bin was the family photo from Disney World. We were all there, even Dad. It was the last trip we took as a family. Right before the picture, Dad yelled at Mom for having a smoke in Fantasy Land.
“It’s the Happiest Place on Earth! Why the hell do you act like this?”
Much like the animatronic characters in the rides on “It’s a Small World,” we all wore smiles. We didn’t know what else to do.