The Labors
Of Abbott
Returning home from a spectacularly unsuccessful quest to buy a couch,Abbott stops with his wife and daughter in the parking lot of a stripmall of premium outlet stores in Northern Connecticut. He's not shopping, though. What he's doing is cleaning vomited raspberries out of hisdaughter's car seat with antibacterial moist wipes. He is reminded ofthe exceptionally strong mythical hero who had to clean out the dirtystables. He is trying not to be reminded of the exceptionally strongmythical hero who had to perform the same bad job over and over. Themoist wipes are cool and pleasing, with a faintly stringent odor, redolentof bactericide. The considerable mound of red-tinted towels is striking,nearly pretty, on the black tar. He glances up once to see his daughterrunning across the searing lot wearing yellow socks and a sagging diaper,looking very much like a child whose parents do not file federal incometaxes. Abbott's wife chases the girl listlessly, pregnantly, in the heat. Inone hand she holds the ruined clothes, in the other the clean clothes.In her uterus she carries another uncivilized human child. She appearsto have no hope of catching the girl, much less of clothing her. Like a mythical hero, Abbott returns his attention to the car seat, the numerous crevices of which are coated in sweet-smelling gastric compote.She really ate a lot of raspberries. He removes the seat from the car anddiscovers that it is dripping somewhere from its center. There are brownbirds in the parking lot picking off pieces of discarded bagel and croissant, then flying back to a crevice behind the Liz Claiborne sign, wherethey live and raise their children. They appear to be uninterested in hisliver. Time has more or less stopped. Abbott's sweat drips down intothe vomit, and he arrives again in paradox. The following propositionsare both true: (A) Abbott would not, given the opportunity, change onesignificant element of his life, but (B) Abbott cannot stand his life.
--- From Abbott Awaits
Chris Bachelder
©2011 Louisiana State University Press
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