Giant

Giant is an adventurous short story about a teenage stoner trapped on the foot of a giant invading his rural town, faced with a seemingly insurmountable task.

Slated for publication by Down in the Dirt magazine in March 2018, available to read on their website, or down below.

 

Giant

by Christopher O’Halloran

            Living in the shadow of a giant is a double-edged sword; it’s nice to have some shade on blistering August days, but a single misstep can leave you flat as a dime.

I briefly lived in the shadow of a literal giant. This isn’t a metaphor or a simile or hyperbole or even humanization. The giant wasn’t a very large house or a famous family member. It wasn’t a lazy cloud passing in front of the sun for far, far too long.

The giant was real, and fifty stories tall if he was a foot, his feet themselves the size of big SUVs. If he had decided to terrorize a big city, he could’ve done some real damage. In rural Manitoba, however, he was left with only fields to trample and barn houses to crush.

He smushed trees, big and small, before meeting the flock of sheep. They didn’t stand a chance. When the shepherd found the bodies of the three sheep felled by the galoot, he didn’t know what to think. Their broken bodies indicated a huge downward force, as if a collection of wayward asteroids had landed directly on them.

If he was a smart shepherd, he would’ve put two and two together, what with the giant footprints tracing out a path from the forest to the main road. Alas, this is rural Manitoba, and if we had any common sense we would’ve ran somewhere better a long time ago, and not just because a giant was invading.

It took three whole days of destruction for word to reach everybody. We have social media here, but the social aspect is lacking; our population hovers between 500 and 600. That means status updates are few and far between. I never saw the far off photos posted on Facebook by my neighbours. By the time I knew about the giant, he was upon me.

 

I was lounging in my favourite smoke spot: a ratty old couch behind a tool shed on my parent’s property. The day was hot, and the shed provided shade from the sun that had beat down on our small town for the past month and a half. Smoke curled up over the lip of the tool shed in expanding rings like targets. Ring-blowing was a habit I had learned off a wandering hobo. He had a wooden pipe he made himself, but smoked different plants than me. I thought the pipe looked pretty wicked, so I fashioned my own. My current apparatus was a gnarled and sloppy thing, but it got the job done.

I was lying on the couch, one pipe balanced on the arm behind me and one in my right hand. I was whittling away at the new model, scraping off shavings in a delicate procedure much like a doctor performing open brain surgery when I heard the cracking of wood. It wasn’t slow like the sounds sheds made when they fell apart under the weight of their own roof, but fast as if a bulldozer was flattening the shed that protected me from sun-burns and age spots.

It startled me so bad that I jumped up and knocked over Pipe 1.0, spilling its contents onto the dry grass! That pissed me off, but when I turned around to confront the source of the noise, I was greeted by a huge, hairy toe. It stuck off the foot, surrounded by the ruin of my family’s shed. There was a broken two-by-four sticking out of it.

My eyes followed the foot to the tree-trunk legs to the water-silo torso to the mountain-shaped head and met up with the bowling-ball eyes. His brows were furrowed, but not at me. He lifted his foot up, craning his leg at an awkward angle and held it in one hand while pulling the splinter out with the other.

His balance wavered. I thought he was going to fall right on me, and considered running. When I looked behind him to identify a viable path, I saw my brothers running off with my parents. I thought about following them, but feared that the giant would topple right over on me. So I figured the next safest place, besides being far away from him, was being right next to him. After all, if he fell left, I could circle around right. If he fell right, well you get the picture.

Instead of falling over, he righted himself. He placed his foot down, and it sunk into a mud puddle formed where the water hose I drank from used to live. I took steps away from him, carefully watching for signs of impending stumbles. When I was out of the blast zone, I turned to run, but before I could take a step the sound of frantic yipping startled me into stasis.

I looked back at the giant, just in time to see Mrs. Shultz’ corgi fly away on a foot being lifted into the air in another step in the direction of town.

Now I’ve always been fond of animals, but my parents would never let us have one on account of them believing we would never take care of it and the burden would fall upon themselves, adults with too many responsibilities as it was. It was a point of contention for years. This fondness for animals stirred something in me. Only a coward would let this poor, little dog be carried off and possibly stomped without trying to help.

I mustered all the courage I had and sprinted after the giant, pocket knife in one hand, pipe in progress in the other. I remember smelling smoke behind me, the dank kind mixed with the regular, burning kind.

 

I caught up with the giant pretty quickly, despite my decreased lung capacity brought on by years of smoking. The big guy moved slowly in a lumbering gait, and I caught sight of a scabby heel raising up, carrying the barking dog off again into the sky. When it came back down, I steeled myself to jump on.

He was wearing cloth pants. Where he got them, I had no clue. I guessed they must have had a secluded village somewhere. Giants need to come from somewhere, a mommy and a daddy giant, and where there are two giants perhaps there is a community of giants, and where there is a community of giants there must be a giant tailor. All those giants walking around in the nude would be plain indecent.

I lifted my arms to jump on, but realized my hands were full. I jammed my pipe in my left pocket, my knife in the right, and leaped into the air just as the giant was bringing his foot up again. I grabbed a handful of cloth in both fists and was lifted terrifyingly high into the air; the giant’s steps had looked shorter from the ground. I screamed, the dog barked, it was an event.

My hands got sweaty. I knew if I didn’t make my way to solid footing soon, I would fall to the ground. If the landing didn’t kill me, a misstep from the giant would.

His foot completed the step, falling gracefully to the beloved ground. I thought about jumping off and legging it the other way, but my conscience got the better of me once again. I adjusted my grip and held on tighter. The next step brought me high up again, but this time I was ready for it. I began to circle around the giants pant leg, grabbing handful after handful of dirty cloth.

When I reached the foot, the leg was pumped up in another step, high above the ground. The corgi saw me and was backing away. Its stubby tail was over the edge of the foot. It wasn’t barking at the situation anymore; it was barking at me!

I placed a tentative foot onto the surface.

“Good doggy,” I said in a calming voice.

“Bark, bark!” It shouted at me, clearly agitated.

It backed up even more. Its rear legs fell off the giant’s foot, and it began to slip off, its front paws scrambling for purchase.

I leapt forward and grabbed the little dog by its chubby body just before it lost purchase.

It wiggled and tried it’s best to get away from me, but I held on tight.

“Quit it, asshole, I’m trying to help!” I said to it from behind clenched teeth. The dog was heavier than it looked. I wouldn’t be able to hang onto it forever.

As the giant completed its step, lowering its foot to the ground, I tossed the corgi as far to the side as I could. The dog rolled once, then began to scurry away as fast as its tiny legs would take it. It didn’t look back.

“You’re welcome!” I shouted after it. “Ya ingrate.”

 

Climbing the giant’s leg and wrestling with the worm-like dog had really taken it out of me. I sat back on the hairy foot, resting my back against the giant’s leg. The big guy didn’t seem to know I was hitching a ride, so I figured I could catch my breath before making a dash.

Digging into my pocket, I pulled out a half-full Ziploc bag and the pipe I had been carving. The pipe was far from finished, lacking the decorative flair I was cultivating. There were no dragons, no sick flames, and no busty women. It was plain, but hopefully functional. I packed it, placed it between my lips, and lit it from a matchbook I had found in my brother Aaron’s desk drawer.

The smoke filled my lungs like a clogged toilet. I sat there on the foot, puffing away, blowing rings of smoke as I was lifted high up into the air and brought back down with each step. It was, as far as I knew, the world’s first organic Ferris wheel.

I stuffed the baggy back in my pocket and examined the matchbook. It was from a local motel, not a chain but a small time business. The Stay EZ.

Aaron had been courting lately, but the women he brought home were usually turned off by the fact that he still lived with his family, so he had begun taking them to motels for reasonably priced privacy charged by the hour. I didn’t blame him. Our family isn’t the most welcoming. They were as abrasive as steel wool, picking at any small flaw they could find, sometimes not even waiting for the poor girls to leave before they began. The house made me feel like I was living in the middle of a swarm of gnats, hence my frequent escape to the couch by the shed.

I thought about the couch and its welcoming cushions, springs poking through in only one area. We were only a couple miles away from my house. If I jumped off then, I could’ve made it back before nightfall.

I finished up my pipe (rough and a little jagged at the end, I would have to work on that) and tapped it out from high up in the air. The burnt leaves floated to the ground, peacefully unaware of the gigantic disturbance brought upon our small town.

The foot fell to the ground once more. As I prepared to jump off, a whirring caught my attention. It was coming from behind me. When I turned around to examine it, I was greeted by a drone, held aloft by four rotating propellers. It swayed back and forth before me, seeming to try to get my attention. A letter on top was attached by a strip of scotch tape.

“For me?” I asked the machine.

It bobbed up and down.

I shrugged, reaching out and plucking the letter from the copter. It floated off, proud of a job well done. I sat back down, intrigued. I couldn’t remember the last time I got physical mail. The novelty of it briefly made me forget I was riding a giant.

I ripped it open clumsily, and something fell out. It was a plastic device with a little hook to go over your ear. It bounced on the giant’s foot and almost slipped off, but I nimbly reached out and snatched it up before it could travel any further.

It was one of those Bluetooth headsets. I checked inside the letter for instructions, but the only thing inside was a card that read ‘PUT ME ON’. I put it on.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello, son,” a voice greeted me. It was deep and gravely. A man’s voice, strong and authoritative.

“Dad?” I asked.

“No, son.”

“Mom?”

“Don’t you know what your own mother sounds like?”

“She- I mean you could have a cold or something. You called me son.”

“It’s a term for a man considerably younger than yourself, you friggin-” He interrupted himself, flustered. “Son, you realize where you are right? How can you be so blasé about it all?”

I looked around from the apex of the giant’s stride. A sparrow fluttered by, confused. “I self-medicate,” I explained. “I have anxiety.”

“You don’t sound too anxious.”

“Probably due to the medicine, sir.” I stretched out my legs. “How can I help you?”

The man on the other side cleared his throat. “I’m about to ask you to perform a service for our fine city. What’s your name, son?”

“I don’t know if I feel comfortable divulging that information, sir. You could be anyone, and I have no clue as to your character or motivations.”

There was a sigh on the other end. I wasn’t looking to be difficult, but I’ve always been wary of stranger danger since the invention of chat rooms and catfish.

“My name is Don Beer; I’m the chief of police here in Banbury.”

The name rang a bell, but I had always tried to steer clear of Johnny Law. You never knew how low the war on drugs was going to sink. There were people in jail for self-medicating. Considering the elevated circumstances however, I decided giving the Chief my name wasn’t too dangerous.

“Well chief, my name is Lyle Hogan. Pleased to meet ya. How may I help you?”

“Son, the giant holding you hostage is on its way to the city common. We think he’s got destruction on his mind. He’s been weaving a trail of mayhem from Mount Vincent southward in a straight line. We need you to bring him down, son.”

I gulped. “Me? Why can’t you guys do that? Don’t you have weapons for this sort of thing?”

“Not really. We have rifles and such, but something that big needs more firepower than what we have. I mean, the drone that delivered this headset wasn’t even department property. I had to borrow it from my son.”

“Are we talking birth son, or son as in a man considerably younger than yourself?”

“Birth son, you damn-” He cut himself off once more, spluttering his frustration away from the receiver. “We just need you to take him down. To get anyone else that close would be too dangerous.”

“Why don’t you guys call in the military?”

“We tried. They won’t touch it. They say bringing out the big guns to attack a minority would be a PR nightmare in this current political climate.”

“Minority?” I asked.

“How many Giants do you know, son?”

 

“Lyle, you up there?” The sound came from somewhere off to the side near rows of corn.

“Hang on, Chief,” I said, “Let me get back to you.” I peered over the edge of the giant’s foot towards the endless rows of corn.

Useless vegetable, very little nutrition.

Walking along the edge of the field was my brother Kyle. At some point last year he had fallen in with the ‘gangsta’ crowd, and as a result adopted the attire of his people.

He wore a flat-billed baseball hat with the sticker still on it, a basketball jersey two sizes too big, and baggy jeans that seemed to defy gravity as they hung halfway down his ass. He held his phone up in front of him, staring at the world through his screen.

“Kyle,” I shouted to him, “What are you doing out here? This isn’t a very safe place to be right now!”

“Man, you know I gotta put this shit on the ‘gram. I got followers that want to see the giant! Besides, you’re up there!”

He had a point.

“He doesn’t know I’m here!”

“He doesn’t know I’m here either!”

“Kyle, go home man. You’re gonna get squashed.”

Kyle put his phone back in his pocket. “Mom wanted to know if you’re gonna be home for dinner.”

“I don’t know. I’m kinda in the middle of something!”

“You want me to tell her that?”

I thought for a second. “No, tell her I’ll be there.” Cold dinner would be better than no dinner.

“Aight.” He turned to walk away, but stumbled as his pants fell down to his knees, displaying his polka-dotted boxers to the world.

“Pull up your damn pants, you idiot. You’re apt to get crushed, tripping over yourself with a giant traipsing about!”

He pulled his pants up with a hitch and walked back down the road. His swagger made him look like a big dumb ape.

Useless boy, no nutrition.

 

“Are you still there, son?” Don Beer was still on the line.

“I’m here. I still don’t know what you want me to do. I have no training, no fighting experience, and the biggest animal I’ve ever dealt with is a Jersey Cow. They’re about as docile as this big dude seems to be, but they are also a magnitude smaller. I don’t know if this guy will be led astray as easily as them.”

“You are authorized to use lethal force if need be. Just make it look like an accident or something.”

Here was a fine example of big city thinking invading the minds of our small town’s finest. “I suppose I should sprinkle some crack on his body too, eh? Plant a gun on him?”

“Son, there are lives at stake here! Our town is booming. Do you really want to see it destroyed before it gets a chance to develop and grow to its full potential?”

“Of course not, but-”

“Then find a way to take him down. We’re counting on you.”

With that the connection was severed. There was no dial tone, but the silence in my ear sounded just as definite.

 

So I was tasked with taking the big fucker down. Me, a 19 year-old stoner with nothing better to do than sit in a field and whittle away at chunks of wood. I didn’t know what to do. The biggest thing I had tried to take down had been a cow, and let me tell you, cow tipping does not work like it does in the movies. Those things just get ornery and start hoofin’ it. If I tried to take down the giant, would it start hoofin’ it? Could it even run?

All those questions started to weigh on me, so I decided to self-medicate once more. I reached into my pocket for my baggy, but found nothing. In a panic, I started emptying all pockets. I took out my pipe, the book of matches, my whittling knife, but still couldn’t find the bag. I turned my pockets out, and to my horror found a hole in the bottom of my right front pocket. It would have fallen out, left behind who knows how far back.

“Shit.” I sat on the foot, my back against the clothed leg and my inventory laid out before me. Knife, matches, and pipe. Somehow I would have to take down this creature with a knife, matches, and/or a pipe. It was a real David and Goliath situation, though Goliath didn’t seem too keen on fighting if he even knew I was there.

We crested a hill, and before us was the city. It sprawled out like a growing amoeba, construction sites dotting it here and there like zits on a pubescent’s face. Their cranes jutted into the air, waving at us. When the sun went down, the lights would pop on. City life, or close enough to it.

Knife, matches, pipe.

I didn’t think I could use the pipe to beat the giant, so I put it away.

Knife and matches. Knife and matches. Matches and Knife.

I could just start stabbing at him. His skin looked thick though, so I dismissed the idea for the time being.

I could start a fire at the bottom of his pants, but if he could pull them on, logic said that he could take them off. Then he would be pissed. Then I would get to see if he could run.

He tramped over dead grass, crunching it beneath his feet.

Knife, matches, dead grass.

Fire.

Pants.

Kyle!

I thought of my ‘gangsta’ brother, tripping over himself as his pants fell down. I looked up at the giant. His cloth pants were tied up at the top by a long length of rope. It seemed as if the giant community hadn’t discovered leather or conventional belts yet.

Knife, pants, matches, fire.

The plan came together in my head, and thinking of the safety of all in my community, I began climbing the pants.

 

It was hard going; there were no holds to place my feet in, so it was all upper body work. I pulled myself up, grabbing patches of cloth in my hands, one after the other. The sun beat down on me as I climbed. When I reached the bottom of his ass, sweat ran down my forehead and into my eye. I had to wince and blink rapidly, stopping my climb. When I looked down, I noticed how high up I was. My hands started to shake, and I had to hug myself close to the giant’s ass.

When my vertigo passed, I climbed the rest of the way, finally reaching the top and wrapping my hands around the giant’s makeshift belt. I almost shouted in triumph, but stopped myself for fear of being noticed. Hooking my arm over the top of the giant’s pants, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my whittling knife. It wasn’t huge, so I would have to work fast. I began to saw through the rope.

I worked at it for what felt like twenty minutes as the giant made his slow, lumbering way towards the city. I kept expecting us to come out of the dry fields and into some fertile land, but each field we entered was dead and yellow.

The rope was hewn almost to the end. I grabbed the cloth at the seat of his pants with my free hand, ready for the drop. I didn’t know how far his pants would slide down, but I prepared myself for the worst.

I kept sawing. I watched the fibers split.

With a sudden snap, the rope came apart. I held on tight as the pants began to slide down the giant’s legs, revealing a large, pock-marked ass with a crack the length and depth of the Grand Canyon. It hitched at the giant’s knees, and he began to stumble. I shuddered in the air as his pants caught. His rear foot remained on the ground, his calf creating a convenient slide. I let go and slid down it.

When I got to the giant’s heel, I sprang off, rolling on the ground. I came to rest a stone’s throw away from him, looking up just in time to see him fall. The ground shook with the thud. It took a couple seconds for it to stop.

The giant just laid there. I thought maybe he was unconscious or something, so I figured it would be better to get it over with. ‘Twere well it were done quickly and all that. I took the matches out of my pocket, cautiously stepping towards his body. I lit one and held it up, ready to drop it to the dry grass.

The wind blew it out.

I was getting ready to strike the second match when I heard the sound of soft sobbing. I looked around for the source before I saw the giant’s shoulders shaking. He held the sides of his big head with meaty paws and cried into the earth. There were deep sobs as if God himself were weeping.

He slowly rolled onto his back and I dropped the matches, dumbfounded. Tears rolled down his face making big streaks on his dirty cheeks the size of table runners. He sniffled loudly and screwed his fists into his eyes.

“Why would you do that?” He cried, his voice booming like a cannon.

“I uh-” I started before feeling heat baking off the ground at my feet. When I looked down I noticed a patch of grass on fire, my pack of matches shriveling up in the center of the growing flames.

The embers, I thought, memories of my youngest brother, Danny, and his early obsession with trashcan fires coming to mind. Once he had set a bundle of newspapers on fire in the backyard. I had stomped it out, but charred bits of the paper had spread to a pile of dry wood we had stored for an upcoming bonfire.

The fire was growing before my eyes. I brought a foot down on the flames in an attempt to stomp it out, but they were too fast for me, chewing up the dead grass. I backed away. It crawled along in the giant’s direction.

“Hey, fire!” I shouted, not knowing why. Why would I try to save him? I had tripped him up with the intention of killing him!

I was going to kill him.

The severity of that hadn’t hit me before seeing the flames heading towards the giant. I was going to kill someone. Some people would see him as a beast, as a monster hell-bent on destruction, but laying in the grass he just looked like a big kid to me.

He sat up. When he saw the fire, his eyes grew huge. They looked like two swimming pools, deep and dark. He shrieked, his deep voice rising to an octave that would’ve been funny in other circumstances. When he tried to get to his feet, his pants tripped him up again and he fell, landing with another tremendous thud. He rolled onto his front and began trying to crawl away. His knees shuffled up like the back half of an inch worm and his balls hung out behind his thighs. I tried to look away, but they held my gaze, mesmerizing me like a horrendous accident.

His whimpering broke my spell. I ran around the fire, pulling the knife back out. When I got to him, I climbed onto his legs and ran up to where the pants had caught. I began sawing through the cloth. It parted easily.

When the rip was down to his ankles, he started shaking out of them. The movement threw me aside. I rolled and rolled before stopping myself. I looked up to see him shambling out of the pants. He got to his feet and began to run away, his footsteps shaking the ground.

“I guess they can run.” His head was down, his arms were pumping away, and his balls were bouncing between his legs like two boulders in an oversized potato sack. He would be someone else’s problem now.

I turned to walk back home but saw a carpet of flame making its way towards me. I did a 180 and found more fire. There was fire left and right. Heat baked off, making me sweat. It came in waves, hot and dry like an oven opened at the peak of its cooking. Blinding, orange light stung my eyes, making me wince. Harsh smoke filled my lungs, making me cough. I felt my skin growing hotter and hotter, panic taking hold of me. There was only one way out.

“Help!” I shouted.

The giant stopped.

“Please,” I pleaded.

He turned around.

The flames encroached, the heat rising. The giant furrowed his brow, his mind conflicted.

“Man,” he said, dejected, before running towards me. If the sight of his giant bouncing balls wasn’t terrible enough, his huge flaccid wang was. It swung to and fro like a tree caught in a tempest. I cringed and looked away, closing my eyes tight in an attempt to forget the sight. I felt the giant come close, his steps shaking the earth beneath my feet. Part of me wanted him to just step on me so I wouldn’t have to think about his junk any more.

Instead, he swept me up and lifted me to his chest. He trotted over the flames, wincing. When we stopped, I opened my eyes and looked at the blaze. We were safely on the other side of the road. Both of us were mesmerized by the dancing flames.

“Will it spread?” The giant asked.

“Not far,” I answered. “These fields catch fire almost every summer.”

He put me down on the road beside him and we watched the fire lick at the sky.

“You tried to kill me,” he said, shock in his voice.

“Are you surprised?”

He hung his head. “A little. They told me up in the village that your people would try. I didn’t want to believe them.”

“Sorry.” I kicked at the dusty road, feeling pretty shitty.

“It’s alright.” He began to walk back towards Mt. Vincent.

“Wait, where are you going?” I asked, hurrying after him.

“Home. I’m obviously not wanted in your society.”

“Oh come on, maybe it’s just me who wanted you dead!”

“I heard you talking to the man on your ear device.”

I reached up to my ear. The plastic Bluetooth must have fallen off while I was climbing the giant’s pants. I hoped that wasn’t Chief Beer’s personal model. “You knew I was there the whole time?”

He nodded.

“Why didn’t you do something about it? Why didn’t you kick me off?”

“I guess…” He stopped and stared at his feet. “I guess I enjoyed the company.” He sat down and hung his hands over his knees. Sweat beaded on his forehead and ran down his face in fat drops. He was obviously exhausted.

I sat down next to him. “Where were you going?” I asked.

“Your town,” he replied. “I hoped I could do some work for you. I see those big metal devices moving things and I think, hey, I can do that, I can move things!” He began to drag a huge finger in the dirt, absent-mindedly. “There isn’t much for me to do on the mountain.”

“You can’t move things up there?”

“We don’t need things moved as often as you people seem to. My people just relax most of the time. We like to swim. We don’t feel so heavy in the water.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad. Why did you leave?”

“Because I’m bored!” He threw his hands in the air, frustrated. “I want to do something; I want my life to have purpose! I’m tired of just sitting around, doing nothing, ticking off days until my heart eventually bursts in my chest.”

“I feel you,” I replied, taking the rough pipe out of my pocket. I turned it over in my hands, examining the hard edges and the sharp mouthpiece. A work in progress. Just another way to kill time.

I tossed it overhand into the flames. It send up sparks where it landed, disappearing in the fire. It popped and crackled. I got up, dusting my hands off on the seat of my pants.

“C’mon,” I said, beginning to walk in the direction of the town.

The giant scrambled onto his feet. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to get you a job.”

“How?”

“I know a guy.”

 

We strode up to the roadblock just as the sun was beginning to set. Chief Don Beer had set it up just outside of town. Two vehicles flanked a police saw horse. One was a standard issue police cruiser, the other was an SUV with Police Chief stenciled on the side. When they saw us, they raised their guns, taking aim at my new friend.

“Woah woah woah,” I said lifting my hands to the sky. “We came to talk!”

The giant raised his arms, imitating me. The blue tarp he had been holding around his waist came loose and fell to the ground, giving the officers a show. Good, I thought. If I have to live with that image, so should they. They cringed away, groaning and gasping. It was quite unprofessional in my opinion.

“Cover yourself, beast!” The police chief was pointing a large, double-barreled shotgun at my new friend.

The giant picked up the tarp again and wrapped it around himself.

“His name is Klunja,” I told Chief Beer.

“He is a danger who needs to go back to where he came from.”

“Come on, Don, what kind of attitude is that? That doesn’t sound very accepting.”

The chief looked flustered. “You know what I mean. This is not about PR, this is about public safety!”

“He’s gentle, chief. Watch.” I lifted my arms up and Klunja lifted me into the air, as delicate as a proper girl at a tea party. He held me out and I stood on his palm, arms on my waist. “See? He could crush me, easy as cake, but he doesn’t.”

“Put the boy down!” The chief pumped the shotgun in his hands and I got nervous. Klunja did too, and he began to lower me down.

“No, Klunja!” I ordered him. “Stand your ground. You are not doing anything wrong.” I turned back towards the officers. “We have every right to be here!”

“We can’t have a giant in town, Lyle. It just can’t be done.”

“Put me down, Klunja.” He lowered me to the ground and I hopped off. I walked towards the chief. “Come on chief. The guy just wants a job.”

“He’s dangerous!”

“How do you know?” I asked him.

“Look at him!”

I did. “You see a big, dangerous monster because you don’t know him. You think that even if he doesn’t hate and want to destroy, he’ll cause ruin accidentally with a few clumsy steps. You don’t know that he takes great care where he steps now because he hurt a few sheep along his way and now feels tremendously guilty.” I turned back to the chief. “Klunja is not a monster. He has the capacity to learn, to feel. He just needs purpose.”

“What will the people say?” He lowered his shotgun, then began to rub at his brow. He was a heavy man, sweaty in the heat.

“They’ll admire the small town, so open and welcoming that they let a giant integrate into their society with open arms. They’ll be in awe of your acceptance and our diversity. In a world so obsessed with being politically correct, you’ll be a tier above them all! This is beyond affirmative action, man; this is unprecedented on a spiritual level!”

The big chief sat on the bumper of his car. He peered up at Klunja who looked down, sheepishly.

“What can he do?” The chief asked.

“I can lift big, heavy things,” the giant explained.

“He can swim, too,” I told the chief.

“So he can work in construction, or be a lifeguard?”

“The city is booming, chief,” I said. “Plenty of buildings need to go up.”

The chief examined Klunja, looking him up and down. “Your name is Klunja?” He asked the giant.

“Yes, sir.”

“You think you can get yourself a pair of pants before the weekend is over?”

“If I get the material, I can sew a pair myself. I’ll need a big needle though…”

“I think my wife has some lawn darts in storage. You make yourself some pants and meet me at the station Monday morning.” He got in his SUV, placing the shotgun in a rack above the front seats.

Klunja’s face lit up. “You hear that Lyle? I got a job!”

“That’s great!” I told him.

“You meet me Monday morning too, Lyle. You’re going to be working with your pal.”

I looked at the chief, perplexed.

“You’re going to have to pay me back for that Bluetooth, son. Those things aren’t cheap.” With that, he closed the door and drove off, leaving his deputies behind to clean up the roadblock. I turned to one of them.

“Do they drug test in construction?” I asked.

“They don’t drug test in small towns,” the guy explained, carrying the saw horse to the back of his cruiser. He loaded it in and they drove off, windows rolled down. Smoke came out in wisps, and the smell that trailed their car was not of tobacco.

 

 

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