Juan del Llano & the Dumpster of No Return

His wife took one look at it and said, “You’re a screwball!”

The appellation from darkest Iowa in the ’50s was a primal zinger, and he felt it. Why couldn’t she have landed on “visionary,” he pouted?—albeit in a manly way. It was one of the most manly things he’d ever done, in fact, renting the giant roll-off dumpster, even if it was the smallest one they had. Juan del Llano could hardly believe his eyes: the sucker was so…industrial, that was the word! Just the thought of having the beast under his command for the next few days made his testicles swell with pride.

He’d rented it the day before, maddened by fear of never completing the clean-out of the old lady’s double-wide and having to stay in Arizona forever. No one could survive that, so something had to break, and did. The expense was ridiculous, true, but the estate would pay, and his share of that was only a fourth. With less than a week left to empty the trailer, the mere fact of the dumpster changed everything. Screwball, eh?

“Just look at that! I could put a car in there! No, TWO!”

“Three,” she spat darkly.

giant dumpster

Oh, perfidy of truth. With Fiat 500s, perhaps. And then his thought processes shut down: faced with the looming maw of steel, a blind urge to FILL the emptiness consumed him completely. There was already a pile of trash under the carport, so that went first. Old boards, odd pieces of metal, vases and jars clattered into the bin. Unidentifiable plastic parts, an old toolbox, dead lamps, and magazines. It was 103 °F, but what did he care? The living room closet was next: in less than 10 minutes, he utterly killed it. Umbrellas! The old slide projector! A broken antique cuckoo clock! Vacuum cleaner parts! Soon he was pitching things over the side just to hear how they crashed.

He paused for a moment—beginner’s mistake—and saw there was still room for their car, a large diesel tractor, and maybe a blimp. The cognition poisoned his mania, and suddenly he heard a voice:

“You’re never going to live this down,” she smirked.

WHAT?!? Oh, right. A prophet in his own land, yada-yada. But the sun was sinking slowly in the west, and it was time for tequila. The Cuervo Tradicional was almost an afterthought following three glasses of lemonade (103, remember), and he staggered outside again, unable to rest.

The dumpster’s heavy steel sides were still too hot to touch. Must weigh 10,000 lbs empty, Juan thought to himself. By now he knew that filling it was impossible, but at least it was there. Whatever he couldn’t pack or persuade the Salvation Army to take would go over the side and vanish forever. The sucking sound in the back of his brain was the past disappearing down a black hole, back into the Void, whence cometh all evil and joy. It wasn’t a question of whether he’d ever finish, more like don’t stand in the way.

The future needed fertilizing, anyway, and he was just the man for the job.

UPDATE, 5-18-2012: My God, it’s almost full!

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Pascale Soleil May 17, 2012, 2:05 AM

    Ah, the dumpster!

    We filled one too. Even the things we couldn’t throw out, we threw out. Whole chunks of life past, gone.

    It had to be done.

    And then it was.

    In solidarity,

    • JHF May 17, 2012, 2:10 AM

      I have three or four more days with this baby, gonna make good use of them.

      “It had to be done.

      And then it was.”

      I love it. Thank you.

  • Carmel May 17, 2012, 3:12 AM

    I am overcome with an insane desire to rummage through what you threw in that dumpster. Broken cuckoo clock … ye gods, there would be some interesting bits in that! Just as well I’m 10,000 miles away.

    • JHF May 17, 2012, 8:22 AM

      Brocken ANTIQUE cuckoo clock, no less. Probably worth zillions. But then you’d be in the same situation as Juan before he got the dumpster, except of course that it’s mid-autumn Down Under. 🙂

      • Carmel May 17, 2012, 4:39 PM

        Yes, one’s brain functions differently in an Australian autumn than in the summer heat of Tucson.

        Still, when I think what Keith Lo Bue would do with the bits from an antique cuckoo clock I could cry.


        • JHF May 17, 2012, 5:10 PM

          Well, I took another look at the cuckoo clock—which I am sure looks nothing like what most people think cuckoo clocks look like (not the touristy kind)—and decided to keep it. I didn’t feel right about it going in the trash, really. I think it’s really old, early 19th century perhaps. I’ll post or send a photo soon. It might just look really cool partially disassembled or some such. Very pretty in the front, actually.

          • Carmel May 17, 2012, 6:16 PM

            Sigh of relief.

            Don’t you dare throw any other early 19th C stuff out either!

  • Sherry May 17, 2012, 8:42 AM

    “The sucking sound in the back of his brain was the past disappearing down a black hole” – I’m waiting for that sound the day I get to leave Oklahoma!!!!

  • Rita May 17, 2012, 10:20 AM

    I’s all gonna end up there eventually anyway.



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