The chain link fence had a hole where Morty commuted daily from his home, nestled behind a stack of wooden pallets along an abandoned warehouse. The sun was sharp that day; he could feel his skin burning as he began to walk to the only place there was for him to go anymore—the dump. He’d spend his days walking through, seeing relics of time passed—dial telephones with missing numbers; carcasses of cars that had been devoured by rust; an old baby doll missing hair, stained with clay earth. He clung desperately to the nuances of these things. He picked up the phone and began to dial out a number as he held the receiver up to his ear. He pretended his call went to voicemail and pleaded into the phone: “Please, please call back.”
The lack of dial tone, ring, or answer was a painful reminder that he was utterly alone. He hung up the phone and placed it on the ground the way he found it—in the groove it made from sinking into mud after rain.
Occasionally he kept trinkets found at the dump. Yesterday he unearthed a tarnished silver pocket watch. Inside was a faded picture of a smiling woman. Her smile was genuine, with a small chip in an incisor. She had a freckle on her lip, vibrant green eyes, and strawberry blonde hair; she was beautiful. Underneath the photo was an inscription: I’ll love you ‘til time stops. The watch was broken, stuck on 7:55. He put the watch in his pocket, checking it every now and then just to see if maybe it would begin ticking again.
He scrambled up mountains of refuse and looked down, scouting for this or that. Blanched plastic, flattened aluminum cans, a mouse scurrying into the toe of a shoe. He searched for something, anything. Amongst the rubble of overstuffed, disintegrating garbage bags, rust, and broken glass, he paused. Eyes glazed, mouth open, he marveled at the sight of a grand piano—missing keys, a gap-toothed smile. He descended, foraged among the discarded and found two milk crates. He stacked them in front of the piano, and while clearing his throat, pantomimed moving long suit jacket coat tails out of the way before seating himself in front of the mammoth. He gingerly placed his fingers on the keys, pressing one lightly—C sharp—savoring the sound. His fingers stumbled, played the wrong keys. Muddled notes mingled together, cacophony.
In faulty flats and sharps blended incorrectly, his ear found euphony. Faster, louder; accelerando, crescendo. Staccatos, accents of painfully pressed A flat, F sharp. He churned out dysfunctional arpeggios in the muddled urgency to create.
He played and played, feeling the bonds of time cease to shackle. He was free of this or that. Enthusiasm gave way to exhaustion. The notes he played began to fade, slow; decrescendo, ritardando. Placing a foot on the sostenuto pedal to listen to the last sounds reverberate, he trembled.