Home > Musings of a Decorative Ham Man > Musings of a Decorative Ham Man

Musings of a Decorative Ham Man

By Chris Vitiello
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I have no memory of any mother figure.

It is said though that my mother is still alive.  She lives alone in the distant provincial town of Heaves, far north beyond the Dietz Mountains.  A man (we will call him Klobedanz) recently was interviewed for the position of semi-post-production foreman at the factory and while viewing his two personal statements, I happened to notice the name.

“You are from Heaves?” I demanded.  He shifted uneasily in his seat.

“Yes, I went to school there and graduated…”

“No,” I stopped him.  “There is no need whatsoever for me to understand your sordid personal history, Mr. Klobedanz.”

Later, however, I returned to the statement.  You should consider hiring me because I have Lankville small-town values.  I come from Heaves, where people help each other do things like fix tires.  They will gather around in large groups of ten, twenty and horn in on your tire to the point that you get pushed back into the dirt and can no longer feel the wrench.  You can no longer see your car or understand anything.  And, later, they will throw a picnic and there might be cold pies, a ham and often some dough pockets.

I tossed it away (indeed, Klobedanz was not hired) and consulted a booklet brought to me earlier by a research assistant.  ABOUT HEAVES it was called, an ancient side-stapled pamphlet in simple block lettering.  There was an advertisement for a feed store on the back cover and a small map inside showing the main street and the few ancillary roads that ended abruptly at what appeared to be wheat or perhaps alfalfa fields (the legend was unclear).  A cemetery and Fluid Fellows Hall were crudely noted by a vastly untalented artist.  Though that artist was likely deceased, I had a fervent desire to whip him.

I grew determined.  It was late, approaching midnight, but I selected an appropriate vehicle from the garage and made the seven-hour drive without stopping.  I reached Heaves at dawn.

It was grim and utterly silent.  There was not a single operable storefront– it was as though the town had been crassly and suddenly abandoned.  Nothing was boarded; it was indeed possible to view dark interiors with little more than a forgotten broom, the remnants of a chair or an enormous but renounced stuffed panda inside.  Standing on the sodden wood porch of a former general store, I looked out on the hamlet and its odious hill houses with nothing but rancorous outrage.

I chose a street– white, cracked cement forming a byway to nowhere.  The occasional wood frame house– ramshackle centenarians– stared back at me.  Soon, I found my first inhabitant of Heaves, a tiny, barrel-chested old man in a blue bathrobe, attempting to feebly bend over to pick up a paper.  I swiftly grabbed it out of his reach and held it to my chest.

“Look at me, old man,” I said.  “Look closely at my face.”

“What?”  He blinked in the sunlight.  He was entering an area vastly beyond his understanding.

“I asked you to look closely at my face.  Study it.  Do it now.”

He issued a few more senseless utterances.

“You will not achieve the satisfaction of this newspaper if you do not do as I say.”

He tried.  Minutes passed.

“Now.  There must be a woman here.  An older woman.  There must be a resemblance, you understand?  Tell me.”

I waited.  There was an endless period of deep confusion.

“Do not just tell me something I want to hear old man,” I warned.  I showed him the whip then.  He seemed to focus.

He described a nearby address.  I looked down at the paper.  Heaves Regional Gazette.  

“I will give this to you now, old man.  Atrocious prose awaits you.”

It required a simple right turn on the main street and then onto an overgrown dead end side street.  The house was the last on the north side– it was a crumbling bungalow with missing cedar shingles.  Dead plants lined the rails of the front porch.  An overturned bird bath covered with a deflated Easter decoration filled the cramped front yard.

I stared up at the lace-curtained bedroom window.  “You are there.  That is enough.  It will soon become clear.”

I deposited myself in a filthy wicker chair that creaked monstrously with even the slightest movement.

I would wait.


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