Issue No. 3, Winter 2012

Running Out of Wax
Troy Blackford

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Dear Diary, Dear Sweet Diary,

I’ve got to keep a running log of this, my life’s greatest moment. I believe the culmination of everything I’ve worked so hard for through all these years is fast approaching. I can feel it. I can’t put my finger on precisely why or how, but it’s like a charge in the air. I think it came with last night’s snowfall.

I need to start writing down the events as they happen. Before they start happening, if that makes any sense. Got to go get some wax: I’ll be right back.

Seven fifteen a.m., Saturday. Ran out of wax again. This is starting to become an exercise in humility.

Eight thirty-two a.m., Saturday. Picked up some more wax on one of my little walks. While I was out, I found a candelabra sticking partway out of the snow. It looked ruined. I bought some silver polish for it. Fingers crossed.

One forty-six p.m., Saturday. Candelabra is solid silver. The gas station polish worked like a charm – no blemishes. In my excitement, I’m already starting to run out of wax again. It can’t be helped.

Nine thirteen p.m., Saturday. Paced the confines of my living room for four hours before making a decision. Pacing is a big help to my thought process. Kept on pacing, walked right over to Grammie’s: but nobody home. Where is he? Does he go on walks too? Walks I don’t know about? Apparently, I’ll have to start keeping an eye on everybody, even Grammie.

They call that kind of attention to detail ‘planfulness’ down at the shop, and it’s one of the company’s core values. Right on the poster.

So, with Grammie gone, this next phase of the operation will have to wait for tomorrow. Meanwhile, I managed to scrape just enough wax off my axe in the garage to last through the night. Not optimal, but it’ll do. Tomorrow is a big day.

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Two seventeen a.m., Sunday. I can’t do this, can’t live like this. I opened up the wall near the fridge and found enough wax to go on, but I’m honestly starting to worry. Why couldn’t Grammie just have been home? Trying to sleep but the pills they gave me for that dry the wax out even faster. I’m running out of options.

They say a man with no options is no better than an animal. I looked through the snow by my house for as long as I could, but I found nothing.

How is that even possible? There has to be something out there.

Seven oh-six a.m., Sunday. Wish me luck. Just got back from an errand, and I’m heading back over to Grammie’s. It snowed about six more inches last night. If I hadn’t run out of wax when I did, I wouldn’t have ever seen that candelabra. And that’s what’s going to make this whole thing work.

See, I’m trying to accentuate the positive.

Twelve twenty-two p.m., Sunday. It happened, it happened! I got it! Grammie took me over and the silver people gave me fair price. I debated keeping two of the branches of the candelabra at first but I realized I could get the silver I needed with the money from it. I can get two pallets full of the wax with what I got for that candelabra and still have enough to get two ounces of pure silver. That should be enough, Grammie says.

But get this – the silver people say just one candelabra is called a candelabrum. That sounds candelab-dumb to me. That joke doesn’t look any funnier on paper, but I’m writing in pen and crossing it out would look even stupider.

Still, not as stupid as saying ‘candelabrum.’

Ten forty-four p.m., Sunday. This is total B.S. Grammie’s car crapped out on him while he was on the way over. He says. I realize I’ve taken him awfully deep into my confidences lately. I don’t know how wise that was.

My greatest fault is probably my heart.

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Three ten a.m., Monday. Grammie’s car wasn’t broken. I know that now for sure. I found him out. Planfulness, remember?

Grammie’s here now. He says he is sorry for the lie but why-oh-why would he even do it? Funny how he starts lying to me right after I find the silver. He says he is sorry, and you know: he sort of sounds sorry, doesn’t he?

The way a person sounds can be a mask.

Six eleven a.m., Monday. I had to hide Grammie’s car because nobody is supposed to know about him now. I put it on the other side of town and walked back. Grammie is forgetting how to talk, like a bug in a web forgetting how to fly.

I have plenty of wax left but the delivery person isn’t going to be here for another hour.

Eight on the dot a.m., Monday. I didn’t think I could get the delivery guy to leave! I didn’t know they brought it all the way into your house. The guy even tried to set it up! He said that was standard operating procedure. I didn’t know any of this. I slacked on my planfulness.

It was fine though because Grammie finally stopped talking like the minute before the guy showed up. It’s all still in the box. I talked the guy out of setting things up but I still had to pay him for it because that was part of the agreement.

I guess.

He couldn’t understand that I was fine with paying him for it at first. He thought I was trying to haggle.

I just wanted him to leave.

Four fifteen p.m., Monday. While I went to get the little bit of silver I’ll need to finish up, Grammie got out. He only got out part of the way, but it was a big mess. Luckily, his hands were ripped up pretty bad before he did too much clawing, and so only a little of that fiberglass insulation stuff got ruined. Not that I’ll need it for much longer.

He’s lucky he died; he was probably coughing pretty bad there for a while. Bad Grammie! Cleanup for the rest of day. Pushing the schedule back a bit.

I’ll be minting after midnight, after all.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Two fifty-six a.m., Tuesday. The melting was easy. The fire is gone and the burning won’t be coming back. I’ve waited and waited and it just won’t. So now I know I am done.

The finished part looks cold now but I won’t touch, won’t touch at all. Not until I’ve given it time. I have just enough of the wax to last at least that long.

I used up so much of it during the smelting.

Eleven twelve a.m., Wednesday. It’s been almost too long. Grammie is seeping into that pink insulation and it’s starting to grow bugs. I know I have to leave soon, and to do that I have to take the piece.

I can’t touch it though. I feel like it wants to burn me. It knows I’m afraid to touch it. I know now what I have to do with all the remaining wax. It’s hard for me to say that. It’s hard for me to know it.

I have to go on a walk and think about this.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Four fifty-one p.m., Wednesday. This is not what I expected. I found something else in the snow, something that changes everything. It was in parts and so I had to repair it. I had some of the parts but not the tools.

I remembered that Grammie had that kind of stuff in his car, but I had moved it. It was very risky, but I have to go to his car to get the tools I need. Things are getting riskier. I give myself twenty-six hours to leave this house. I have to work quickly.

That’s only one hour for every letter.

Nine seventeen p.m., Wednesday. The car had a note on it. I didn’t want to get close, but it had to be from someone who Grammie knew. I didn’t want to get involved. He was missing, and I didn’t want to be connected to it. Having to answer questions would be bad just now.

I got the butane thing and the ratchet thing at the hardware store instead. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for at first – that sort of thing was always Grammie’s department. I think I finally found what I needed.

The guy at the desk seemed very nervous though and I am revising my time downward. I will be out of here by eleven in the morning tomorrow if I can help it.

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Three thirty-seven a.m., Thursday. Grammie’s gone. I must have taken him out myself because there would be more serious things happening to me if I hadn’t. I guess I just took him and put him somewhere safe. I should have done that after the insulation started growing bugs, honestly. I guess it took me a while for my planfulness to seep into the situation. I have to focus on finishing my work so I can get out of here on time.

The bugs didn’t leave with him – they are distracting. I wish I knew where I put him but stuff like that is just going to keep throwing me off from here on out.

Three forty-five a.m., Thursday. That has to be the worst bit of timing. Doorbell started ringing. It’s so early here that I assumed it was someone that knew about Grammie – maybe it was Grammie. It sure looked like him at first. But then I couldn’t see anything.

I looked out the side window and saw him. I’m not in trouble, it wasn’t them. Whoever he was, he was drunk. He didn’t seem to know where he was. Him showing up was just some coincidence.

But I am revising my timeline downwards again. Seven a.m. is time zero.

Four fifty-two a.m., Thursday. The bugs aren’t distracting me anymore. They have started making more and more sense to me, to the point where now I welcome their input.

I’m getting closer to the absolute solution. There is tinkering still, but of a purely mathematical kind now. The physical tools are formed, safely enwrapped in wax.

I have to make a quick trip to the lake to find what I buried there for safekeeping. I have trusted to that – now, in the final hours, I begin to see how much faith I had put in that lake.

Yet not all faith is an ill wind, let’s hope.

Six twenty a.m., Thursday. We aren’t sunk – what I had submerged in the lake was still there, in its little waterproof box weighed down with rocks. The whole thing was hard to find, and I definitely needed the hammer I had brought with me in order to break through the ice.

The box contents had not frozen solid, though. I spent some time in the water like a frog. A big frog with a hammer turning over freezing rocks and cracking ice.

It was too cold for bugs – I enjoyed the break from them.

Six fifty-five a.m., Thursday. So we did it! I’m about to head out there now. Lucky find, that candelabra. That sped the whole operation up by months.

When a gift like that presents itself to you, you intrinsically understand that life wants you to pay for the opportunity. Usually with interest. So I had gone to work.

But when I found the second thing, after the seven ounces of silver and the two pallets of wax, well – that’s when I knew my fortunes had been, in some intrinsic way, tied to those of this week. For good or ill, I have aligned with the world, and it with me.

For that reason, I hope you don’t find me too terribly self-centered in this memoir. I have been recording only my own part of the world, as I see it – and it will take the work of many others to make sense of what is here found.

Seven a.m., Thursday – Time Zero. I’m leaving.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Eleven twenty-six a.m., Saturday. It worked out better than I could ever have hoped! I’m back! I got put in the lineup, but she didn’t pick me! She was the only one who saw, and obviously she didn’t see much. I was so thrilled.

Everything since then has been back to (somewhat) normal. I have to keep an eye out for a while. But tonight I’m going to run down to the gas station and have myself a look at the newspaper.

I’m pretty sure there’s something in it I’d be interested in reading.

Twelve forty p.m., Saturday. Nobody knew what I meant. Everybody acted like they didn’t know what a newspaper was. They said things like ‘Son, calm down,’ and ‘Are you hurt? What happened?’ What happened? I don’t understand.

They were either serious or pretending – but either way, I never got to see that newspaper.

One oh six p.m., Saturday. Doorbell started ringing two minutes ago and hasn’t stopped since.

Go away!

One oh seven p.m., Saturday. Oh no, it’s Grammie! It’s Grammie!

One oh seven p.m. and thirteen seconds, Saturday. The door is cracking!

One oh seven p.m. and twenty seconds, Saturday. All the windows are making the sound of cracking ice. Doorknob is going runny and I don’t know where to go!

One oh seven p.m. and thirty-four seconds, Saturday. The windows are just water and the knob is crawling towards me!

One oh seven p.m. and forty-seven seconds, Saturday. The dust from the doors and walls is sticking to all the window water! I should never have given away all my wax!

One oh seven p.m. and fifty-nine seconds, Saturday. Why did I give away all my wax when I knew about the water?

One oh eight p.m. and three seconds, Saturday. This is Grammie. This matter has been resolved and the thread is now locked.


Troy Blackford, a 28-year old office worker with eight published short stories – ‘Birds on Glass’ in the September 2010 issue of Black Oak Presents, ‘The Days of a Driveling Instruction are Departing’ in the April/May/June 2012 issue of The Storyteller, ‘Now for the Sunbeams’ in the Spring 2012 issue of the Avalon Literary Review,,’Seeing the World for Pennies a Day’ in the October 2012 issue of Epiphany Magazine, ‘Whalesong’ in the October 2012 issue of Inkspill Magazine, ‘A View of the Park’ in the October 2012 issue of Roadside Fiction, ‘Object’ appearing in an upcoming issue of Garbled Transmissions Magazine, and ‘Hearing Voices’ appearing in an upcoming issue of Bewildering Stories, lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and two cats.

  • Dave Eccles

    A strange tale indeed! One that leaves me scratching my head and wondering just exactly what it is that i’ve just read!
    The story itself is well-written, as are all of Troy Blackford’s stories, and i’m left wanting to read more, to ask Troy the question: What happened next?
    The inside of Troy Blackford’s mind is a complex and sometimes frightening place to visit, yet well worth visiting!

  • Funny and scary at the same time. Loved these lines: But get this – the silver people say just one candelabra is called a candelabrum. That sounds candelab-dumb to me. That joke doesn’t look any funnier on paper, but I’m writing in pen and crossing it out would look even stupider.