by L. D. Brodsky
He dashes from the house half-dressed, drowsy. It’s been a decade or two since he’s been awakened at 4:30 a.m., forced to skip lavatory rituals, blindly grab the most convenient garb (no matter it’s mismatched), and head for the factory in north St. Louis where, for more than forty-four years, he’s been the one person to call in emergencies such as this.
Why he’s racing there at breakneck speed, flying to the scene as though to his own funeral, he’s not certain at all, since the police told him by phone moments earlier that the place was in flames, a five-alarmer raging out of control, already a total loss. Two miles away, he can see an orange glow staining the dark sky, almost feel the ghastly heat thundering, hear the sewing machines screeching, the fabric burning, girders melting.
Arriving, he grows nauseous, vomits, choking on sour chunks of undigested lunch and dinner, as firemen with hatchets and hoses, in empty gestures of heroism, rush past him as if he were a scrap of newspaper instead of the plant manager of Danforth Shirts. Reeling helplessly behind the police line, he senses he’s dead meat, an out-of-stock part in a broken engine, a glue horse, an old Eskimo relegated to an ice floe, Don Quixote defeated by a windmill, and he suspects he’ll never be hired again. After all, who, in these days of downsizing, leveraged buyouts, consolidations, and outsourcing, rewards loyalty and pride?
Suddenly he realizes who caused this fire and why: his bosses in New York are simply cutting their losses on an obsolete property worth more as an insurance claim than a tax write-off. He knows, come tomorrow morning, there’ll be no reason to get out of bed, that from the ruins no phoenixes will rise.
In this, Brodsky's first book of short fictions, you're likely to find yourself in absurdity's line of fire, the ammo consisting of an insurance agent, adept at selling policies covering impregnation by aliens; a milquetoast husband, whose nagging wife communicates with him via Post-it Note commands; a quarter-ton Jujyfruits addict, who receives direct-from-the-factory shipments of his sole source of sustenance; a family man, who abruptly leaves his wife and kids, then returns, just as abruptly, two decades later, ready for dinner; and a ravenous traveler, overcome by the Tex-Mex mystique of a Missouri hotel restaurant, whose mascot is a three-foot-long iguana. In addition, you'll be shot through by the armor-piercing language and ballistic behavior of a South St. Louis auto-factory-assembly-line worker, a man's man, who appreciates the finer things in life: brewskies and pigskin action. Beware! Yellow Bricks is a shooting-gallery full of fictional hot lead.