Early Afternoon: February

Originally Published as Brick Building 05/02/2011 05:53:44 AM


Photo Source: Jessica Beebe

Judd and Charlene were walking around their shit town looking for some action to get in to. It was early afternoon; everyone else in school or work, plenty of time to see what was happening. They were truants walking down the steep hill of Acadia St. after drinking a few Buds at the water tower, heading to Brent’s Market to get some smokes and to try to get someone to buy some more beer.

At the base of Acadia, on the corner of Rt. 163, was an abandoned factory. The machine age ended, the mills and factories closed, the population moved away in search of work, the mill towns declined. Typical story. Scenes from the Industrial North. Times were hard and there were no signs of the end of the slide.

“I love that building”, Charlene said, squeezing Judd’s arm a little tighter. “I wonder what they made there. Do you ever think about stuff like that?”

Judd took a drag from his smoke and a long pull from the Bud they were sharing. “Nah, who gives a shit? They’re not making anything in it NOW. Christ, my old man been out of work almost a year and a half. Who gives two shits what they made there a hundred years ago?”

It was a murky gray Thursday in February, the middle of a three-day New England thaw: the kind that melts a little snow and ice and gives hope for spring before the deep chill returns and settles in, dashing hopes and returning coats to the suddenly coatless. They were both comfortable in jean jackets, happy to have a brief respite from the long winter.

Charlene knew that Judd wasn’t very sentimental or romantic, so she didn’t go on too much about stuff like history. But she was fascinated, and relatively new to the town. She always wondered what went on in old, abandoned buildings, how people lived, what they did for fun.

“Yeah, I know. But I can’t help thinking about it!” Charlene replied, feeling her excitement build. “It’s such a pretty building. And it was a part of the history of New Clinton! Maybe they made uniforms for soldiers? Or canvas for ship sails. Or…rope, or….maybe it was a power station?”

They were almost upon the old factory, and almost at 163 and Brent’s. For Judd, they were almost at Charlene’s house and a three-hour window of opportunity to drink, fuck, play Nintendo and watch MTV before her parents got home from work and he had to sneak out.

“Maybe the family of the bosses that fucked my dad worked there!” Judd snapped back. “An’ maybe the parents of the asshole that my mom ran off with!” He took another pull off the bottle and threw it against the building, loving the feeling of catharsis and the sound of smashing glass.

Charlene knew that the conversation was over. She kept walking, leaning on Judd’s shoulder, and planning on a visit to the New Clinton library to scan the microfiche files about the building.

Judd knew that the conversation was over. He kept walking, knowing that Charlene had finally shut up and looked forward to getting into her pants before starting in on homework.


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