3 Micros by Todd Mercer



In the Mood

How to become the nursing home’s youngest resident: Dive into a city pool without seeing if it was drained. I’m glad to be alive. Many people tell me I should be.

The music in the dayroom is the sorest trial. Crooners, old-time Big Band Swing. Staff parks my chair beneath the speaker and I’m stuck ‘til someone moves me. No sensation from the C-5 vertebrae downward.

It was after dark. My friend wanted to swim too. He told 911, “He’s dying.” Ten feet below on the concrete, I said, “Bad news, man—we’re all dying.”

A little levity.



Jane, shopping in Home Depot, answers other customers’ questions. They mistake her for a Paint Department employee. We load our cart with electrical cable, junction boxes, switches, outlets. The whole Edison package. We’re illuminating a former crack-house we bought at distress price. When we first went through, items thieves had stripped out included the copper pipes, the breakers. Most windows. The stairs. The place screamed “ruin.” Ruined lives poisoned the structure. Jane saw the potentiality. She said, “We have complete freedom in here.” I said, “Seems like the last tenants let their freak flags fly.” Jane was busy with the future.



Corey tells strangers in the bar’s next booth his needlessly extended shaggy dog story about three strings who fought, then said, “I’m a frayed knot.” They laugh superficially, because the joke isn’t too advanced, but they were raised for courtesy. He isn’t focused on our depressing discussion about my wrecked relationship and the diabolical other party whom I have not decided to leave. What friend wants to hear drawn-out installments from a guy living for years in Crazy-town who won’t rent a moving truck, but still complains? Corey rejoins me, interrupts my woe-airing, cuts his advice to a dangling phrase. “Stab me once, shame on you…”

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