The Boiler Man

Posted by By at June 13, 2009 Print

He came in with the cell phone stuck to his ear. “Yeah, I’ve been here before” he says, with a slight Spanish accent. “Listen, babe, I’ll call you later…no…I’ll talk to you later. I’m in someone’s house…NO. Get off your spoiled lazy ass and wrap the gifts yourself. I’m working. I pay the bills. No. I don’t care. You think I care? I’ll just put that shit in a brown paper bag and tell the kids Santa was a lazy fat ass this year and didn’t wrap your presents. I’ll be home in an hour.”

He hangs up and speaks to me. “Women. I been here before. I met these other two. An older couple, man and his wife. I felt bad for them. They started crying and shit telling me this was their sons house and how he–you know died, here in the house. He was like some bigwig guy at some bank thing like a vice president I think they said. Made lots of money but still, you know, he died. Money. Don’t matter how rich you are-that shit that is gonna kill you IS gonna kill you. Poor folks. The old guy, he cried more than the lady. I felt bad and shit. She kept talking to me though-she told me how his cousin, the cousin of the guy who died, still lives here, in this house, was helping him and shit. I didn’t meet him the last time I was here. That was tough I felt real bad for them. They were crying and shit. Nice people. My heart broke for them. He was real young they said. Thirty five or something”.

“Thirty six” I said.

“You the cousin?” He asks.

“Yeah” I answered.

“Sorry bro, that must be some tough shit takin’ care-what am I doing? You don’t want to relive that stuff now, do ya? Sorry. Sometimes I just say shit.”

“That’s cool,” I let him know.

“Okay. Lets take a look at the boiler”, he says, leading the way. Of course he knows where it is. He’s been here before! I followed him through the kitchen and down the stairs to the basement apartment.

“Women,” he mumbles, as he looks at the boiler and takes his jacket off. “Yeah. I’ve been here before.” He speaks to me (I think?) “I’m the guy who put that water tank in here. It’s new. Yeah, that’s when I met the old folks. You weren’t here. That old guy. The dude that died, his father, I guess he’s your uncle. Man he cried. I know what’s up with this boiler. I gotta change these wire on the relay. No problem. Maybe I’ll cut a new piece of glass for the water level-this ones all dirty. So you can see the water level.”

“Sure. Do what you have to do” I said and turned to leave.

“Whoa. Where you going? You can’t leave me alone here. You got like money and shit lying around.” (That’s the way he speaks) “Something’s missing…You can’t say, well that boiler guy was down here alone. Na. Stay here with me. I’ll be quick.”

I stayed. Knowing full well that this man was going to tell me…EVERYTHING.

He did. He clipped and tied wires and cut glass as he blabbed on to his captive audience.

“My wife-well she’s not really my wife. We like, live together for like seven years. Well, we don’t really live together. We do. But not all the time. She, like, is over five times a week. And like a couple a times a week I go to her place. Well, it’s not really her place. It’s her moms. Little place. I don’t like going over there and shit. Too small. The kids don’t like it either. We have like…” He pauses to solder a wire. “Two kids together. A boy and a baby girl. She’s got two more from this other guy. But those kids they like me better than their real dad. He’s a shit. I have a girl too from my ex-wife. She’s really my ex-wife. I was young. I should have never got married. You got kids.”

I was about to answer–he wasn’t interested.

He talked on. “Don’t get me wrong. I love them. Pain in the ass though. I give my kids everything. I’m building an extension to my house. I own my own house. Right here on Crosby. So all the kids can have more space. So I can keep them all…you know seven days a week. I’m doing it by myself-the extension. My wife…well, you know…I call her my wife. I work hard, you know-she don’t want to wrap no Christmas presents. Screw that, you know, I bought all the presents. I paid good money for all those gifts for the kids and her mothers’ gift too. She wants me to drop what I’m doing to go home and wrap the gifts.”

He pauses to look at me and give me a look of ‘unbelievable’.

“I kn…” he cut me off.

“She can’t wrap the gifts? What is so hard about wrapping the gifts?”

He pauses again. I think he’s finished.

“Thank…” he’s not…

“She’s a good women though. Always get what I need. If you know what I mean. Always gives me a hot meal too. That’s just as important as…You know. Yeah she’s a real good woman. I’m lucky to have such a good woman. I know that much. I may not be the smartest guy in the world. But I know I got a good woman.”

Before I knew it he was done. He even had his jacket on.

“Well that’s it.” He said. “My job is done here. Nice talking to you.”

He was gone. I was exhausted.

I wanted to like this guy. After all, he’s been here before – that should mean something. But we made no connection. He just babbled on. Trying to get out as much as he could before his job was done. Curious? I wonder what he would do in absolute silence? What would happen if he had to keep his mouth shut for five minutes? Or better yet what if I started talking to him about my life…Would he be able to hear me? What puzzled me the most was how did he know so much about my cousin who died and my crying aunt and uncle. How come they got to talk?

He’s been here before. He said that a few times. He’s been here before. I guess that was his way of telling me…That it was his turn to talk.


Related Posts