Captain Kirk had been sleeping with the drunks in the sawgrass behind Nat’s Den, a biker bar on the railroad tracks in Boynton Beach. Then I hired him and gave him a home in the back of a cube van that was parked on my property. This seemed to be a significant upgrade for him, especially after he outfitted it with a sofa and a dresser and a little TV. He’d gotten the items during his late-night wanderings through the neighborhood, crawling over people’s garbage heaps while high on crack.
I don’t know when he slept. He’d always be waiting for me when I got in in the morning, cheerful and anxious to blubber about nothing. I didn’t like talking first thing in the morning. I’d set him to work on the lawnmowers, the weedeaters, the stumpgrinders. He wasn’t a very good mechanic but I was barely making it, and he was affordable, and always friendly to the customers, so I kept him on, helping him save enough money to buy a Winnebago which I secured for him through a friend. The Winnebago, though somewhat old, was in near perfect condition when he got it, but he smoked his cheap 305 cigarettes in it, burning little holes in the carpet and upholstery and curtains and eventually filling it up with piles of detritus he’d scrounged on his 2 a.m. wanderings. Pretty soon, it was stuffed beyond capacity – you couldn’t even walk in it – and the overflow spilled out into the yard. That’s when I discovered that much of what he’d been hoarding had not come from trash cans around the neighborhood, but from my own trash cans.
“Captain,” I’d say. “I threw this away for a reason. It’s trashed.”
“I don’t know,” he’d say. “I think I can fix it.”
Of course he couldn’t. He didn’t even try. But he kept collecting my garbage, and soon his spillage was all over the lawn. He had everything out there: track lighting, torn-up leaf blower engines, mannequins, Halloween masks, dry-rotted hydraulic hoses. In a word, anything that struck him as remotely salvageable or sellable or shiny, which was pretty much everything under the sun. In the end, I took to smashing everything into little pieces before I threw it in the garbage, knowing that if I didn’t, it’d turn up in the lawn the next day, and I’d probably trip over it.
Then came the blowout: the morning I began violently deposing his mess and he freaked out, chasing me around the building and out into traffic with a 7-foot bull float pole. It was the closest I’d ever come to being murdered but we somehow made amends and it was only after that that he started tidying up his little space, selling or discarding as much as he could bear to part with.
It must’ve crushed him though. He lost his ambition to work for me shortly after that. All he wanted to do was lounge in his Winnebago smoking crack and watching movies.
I shitcanned him. He knew it was coming. He probably wanted it. He sold his Winnebago and downgraded soon after to a teal riceburner which he had no license to drive. He mainly used it as a storage facility. Then one of my customers offered him a job painting a newly constructed house in Fort Pierce. He was also allowed to sleep in the house overnight, but the house had no electricity, so Captain Kirk brought a generator to the job. The generator, incidentally, was thrown out by me six months earlier because it wasn’t worth fixing, but Captain Kirk resurrected it somehow. It was the only thing I ever threw out that he resurrected, and he set it up in the garage and closed the garage door and ran a cord from the generator to the bathroom down the hall and plugged the cord into his little TV and sprawled out on the newly tiled floor watching late-night reruns and drinking Colt Ice and smoking crack until the fumes crept into the room and carried him away.