To all the gang back at A&T Concrete,
What’s up!!! Panama is amazing!!! Cindy and I went swimming today and I saw this amazing fish. You guys should come here on your next vacation!!! Wish you were here!!!
It’s Al. Thank you for your postcard. Me and the guys back at the plant read it this morning during our smoke break. Eddie grabbed it from the mail room, and he read it aloud while we all puffed casually on our cigarettes outside in the cold. A few guys made wisecracks about girls in bikinis, and a couple others just coughed and dug holes in the ground with their boot heels. Hal decided right there to get that elective stomach surgery he’d been thinking about. Basically, your message touched us all Frank, if in different ways. Thank you so much for writing.
I wasn’t sure if you were looking for replies from us, Frank, but your message hit hard with me especially and I thought it was only fair to send you a note back. Work has been dragging me down lately, and I’ve been giving more thought to whatever years I may have left in this aging body of mine. Being the oldest guy here isn’t always so easy. In fact, sometimes, I think it’s pretty dang hard. Frank, my friend, I really need to talk. Can you spare a few minutes to listen?
It’s late, but I don’t care if I sleep in tomorrow morning and get to work at lunch time. For me, Frank, business at A&T Concrete has become too rhythmic, too expected, and sometimes, just too much. The band on the 5-DW mixer snapped last week, my friend, and with it snapped the window of complacency through which I’ve been viewing my dull, lifeless existence.
Your note has inspired me, Frank. Your hurried tone means you’re in a rush, a vague sensation I barely remember. Your numerous exclamation marks mean you’re excited, a distant feeling I can barely recall.
As the years inside this concrete plant slowly turn into decades, my soft hands turn into a wrinkled study in debilitating arthritis, my diversified investment portfolio crumbles like an ill-built Jenga tower, and my gentle ease and simple charm with the world around me turns into a furious, clenching desire to live my last few moments on this horrid planet in a climactic combination of excess, luxury, and sin.
I want to be like you, Frank. That’s why I’m coming to Panama.
When I get there I want to have a gorgeous view from a cabana on the white sands of the Pacific Ocean. I want a topless beach attendant, tanned golden brown, to serve me fresh squeezed papaya juice in a coconut half while I playfully tease a family of spider monkeys who have developed an interest in my new lip piercing.
I want the beach attendant’s supple breasts to sensually graze my arm, her sharp dark eyes capturing mine knowingly while she grasps my open hand. And, as the piercing summer sun slowly fades to a dark orange, as another warm day gives way to the beginning of another white hot night, I want to quickly gather my cashmere robe, my platinum earrings, and my new Blackberry and saunter back to the cabana with her in my arm.
I don’t want to be dreaming of U-shaped blocks of concrete like I am now, Frank. I don’t want to wake up sweating every night, and then limp to the kitchen for a glass of warm, salty Metamucil and a worried review of my bank book.
I want to trudge off with the attendant to my cabana, Frank, my bony arm around her taut, sandy waist, with all the unmentionables about to be mentioned, with all the deeds of sin coming to heed on top of my crumpled rented sheets. As our lips meet for a wet kiss of unbridled passion, as I tug playfully on her braided hair, and as she slides her silky hand through my new designer toupee, I want shivers of agony and ecstasy to shoot like bolts through my body. In view then out again, on top then underneath again, I need to feel those bolts of agony and ecstasy, Frank. I want those bolts of agony and ecstasy, Frank.
I don’t want to put in Sunday overtime for the three weeks in a row anymore. I don’t want to worry about Marty’s back going out again and then trying to figure out who will take his place. Frank, I’m sick of hearing Dan’s stories about the new tailpipe on his Civic. I’m tired of watching Rich’s attempts to get the lunch truck cashier to notice him. And if I have to do one more safety drill, I think I’m going to put the foreman in the HT-44 press and drop-kick the big, green button.
Book me a cabana next to yours, Frank.
Old Al is coming down for the ride.