You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
I can taste the sweat. It’s dripping down my forehead. It’s a thick bead of salty, liquid pulling on my facial hair, tugging on my skin.
I feel the river of sweat coagulating around my ear, taking a turn, like a mighty river and rolling down to my eye.
“Oh don’t you come in here,” my eye says to the thick bulbous stream of salty perspiration trying to make entry.
I blink, diverting the wave of sweat away. Like a salt surfer, it rotates on top of the lip of perspiration, and then races down the curl toward my chin.
The wave of liquid perspiration trickles down my cheek bone and then, like a barrel going over the falls, it plunges to the ground.
I wash the gorged drop of sweat hit the pavement in slow motion.
It explodes like a mushroom cloud of atomic stank.
Meanwhile, my hands are full with a mattress.
It is cumbersome, bulky, tough to control.
I am moving so slowly, looking for a place to put my feet.
I try and wipe my face on my shoulder, but the mattress is jammed up in my chin and it’s hard to move.
The air in Tuscaloosa is stagnant, hot, like the manifold of an idling car.
I am on the backside of the mattress, caught in a narrow stairwell with a sharp turn still to come.
My newly graduated son is on the bottom end, going backward, trying to maneuver around the turn without falling down.
“Easy. Easy. Go slow. Watch your footing.”
I can feel the fibers in my back straining as I awkwardly bend over, clutching the mattress.
One more step till the ground.
I want to dump the mattress and stand up, fully extending my back.
I feel my muscles cramping.
It is a slight tingle at first and it begins to intensify.
I need a masseuse. Maybe a cocktail.
“Hold up. Hold up,” I yell. “Take a break.”
We put the mattress down for a moment. I wipe the cascading beads of sweat swirling on my forehead. My pores are pulsing, surging, screaming like demonic tea pots of hissing heat.
I wipe my head with my fingers like a skin squeegee. I sling a wave of moisture to the Earth.
“How hot is it here?”
“Pretty Hot,” my son replies.
He’s wrong. It’s not just hot. It’s repulsive. It’s repugnant. It’s hideously obscene.
It’s Friday the 13th meets Jason in a sauna bath; hot!
Tuscaloosa is in central Alabama. The air is thick like 1960’s civil rights injustice.
The humidity is a wet air blanket of funk.
I stare at the sun. It is broiling me like a rotisserie chicken spinning on a skewer.
I look across the parking lot.
The asphalt is so black. I can see the heat waves shimmering off the tarry goo.
I can feel the heat, smell the petroleum stank wafting up from the surface.
I imagine the chemical components separating at the molecular level, dissolving, dissipating.
“OK, you ready,” I say.
“Yep,” he says hoisting the mattress up to his chin.
I reluctantly raise my end of the mattress and we shuffle across the black heated petroleum patch.
I can feel the heat burning through my sandals.
My toes are scorching.
This is awful.
We get to the open doors of the 9 foot cargo van and put the edge in the vehicle.
I am happy to push it back into position.
It fits nicely, like an interlocking jig saw puzzle piece.
“How much more do we have?”
“A few more loads,” he says.
I stare at the tar pit, the stairwell, and the climb to the hot apartment beyond.
We trudge forward as new wave of perspiration cascades across my face.
I look at another dad and his adult son stopping on the 2nd floor and throwing household items onto the grass.
“Yee Haw,” they scream.
A few more loads I mutter to myself.
It can’t end soon enough, as I wipe my brow with my completely saturated shirt.
What we do for our kids, right?
Tuscaloosa? See ya!