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Crawlspace Kenneth

The man in the crawlspace, Crawlspace Kenneth, had started to sniffle and sob again, and it was hard for me to sleep again. "Man, it's really not that bad!" I called up from my bed, on my back, on the third wide-eyed night. "You know, your age, I slept on park benches. Park benches! Crawlspaces, I'd have killed for one." But it was the lonely nights - not the crawlspace, he'd kept telling me - that got him going. He never left the thing, and he didn't have a phone, and I was a claustrophobe, so he missed out on those introspective night-time conversations. And who could live without them?

The drama crescendoed over Labor Day weekend, while I spruced for a visit home, and Crawlspace Kenneth bawled and howled right above me. The bags under my eyes hung to the chipped linoleum, I kid you not, and I'd stopped with the reasoning-him-out-of-it. Suddenly I heard a rattling in the ducts, running up the wall and through the crawlspace region. "Kenneth? You all right?" I asked the ceiling. But he was occupied. A woman's voice, tinny with duct reverberation, was chatting him up through the metal. On her way to a family cookout, a real conversation fangirl, lost in my building but charmed to meet Kenneth, promising to return this way, I gathered. She called herself Airduct Alice.

Story by:

John Gabriel Adkins

12 December 2016