Friday, June 13, 2014
Packrat Red and his Cart o' Sad Crap
She should have seen it coming.
Red Barrett had for eight long years endured a loveless shotgun marriage to the daughter of a Pennsylvania steel baron. She was a domineering daddy's girl, and from day one, she made no attempt to hide her disdain for Red. On good days, she ignored him, but often she was openly hostile. After a few years, he had stopped fighting, quit defending himself against her insults, and no longer believed that happiness was a possibility for him.
He trudged along the streets of Allentown, surviving as best he could the soul-crushing employment his father-in-law had arranged for him. By day, he peddled toiletries and tools from a heavy, wobbly-wheeled cart. By night, he suffered the slings and arrows of his wretched wife.
Until the onset of the Great Depression. It didn't ruin him; he had nothing of his own. What it did was put stories about hoboes in the newspaper. Before he took his melancholy out the back door, hit the road as Packrat Red and made a life of challenging but happy wandering, he left his wife a note.
"Lynnette - I don't love you. You don't love me. If I die tomorrow, walking free the rails to Reading, it will be a far better fate than another hour of life in this house. You may keep the filthy cart."
It's good to be back! This little warmup was written in response to the STUDIO 30 PLUS prompt "He took his melancholy out the back door," from Katy Brandes' ON THE CUSP OF SPRING.