Issue #63

Summer 2017

The Revenge of the House Hurlers

by Ken Poyner

No one had suspected the depth of their emotion. As with any other class of professionals, we imagined they each had an affinity for their craft, some interest beyond a simple means to an income. We opined they had a guild, a professional magazine, poorly attended monthly meetings. Vividly ordinary. Half-respected, half-misunderstood, wholly unentertaining, all of them in possession of more details than those outside of the profession would ever care to know.

Not all that different from the brick-mites or the road benders or the fern illustrators or any denizens of the physically demanding lines of work.

We were unsuspicious. We kept our fingers comfortably collected and drew our solace from the cold well of ignorance.

But their sense of inadequate appreciation ballooned by the day, becoming grit in their teeth, a lost guttering stretch in the sinews. With the expert toss of each shed, the heave of each house, they resented more the shadows in which they labored, the public innocence of regard, the general unknowing void of the citizenry.

They would watch the televised annual bone-installers awards, wondering why there was no coverage of their awards; why the hurler of the greatest number of houses and sheds was not famous to school children, why the champion hurler could buy groceries anywhere unfoundered by fame, appearing as ordinary as a fish on his bicycle.

From this side of the crisis, with the architecture of their grievances now discovered, no one blames them.

But we do suffer. Before the hurlers went on strike, every one of us would get a call every few months: a family we knew wanted us to understand they had been thrust into the air, water pipes bubbling loose in the exposed foundation below; masonry falling unthinking away; furniture striking out across the room; doors slamming open and shut; the divine feeling of passing with the house through the air in an arc of bittersweet satori; of seeing outlined within the window, before it shattered, the land passing beneath them; the shivering thrill of resettlement.

Yes, there was an occasional complaint, the odd injury or death; or a shed hurled or house hurled without its mate, and a matched pair thus being separated – but, for the most part, anyone engaged was electric at the wondrous event, happy to be hurled.

Yet, in the joy, it seems always the actual hurler was somehow forgotten. Why, yes, the hurling was stupendous – but what of the hurler? What of the hurler?

Anonymous and unknown, the hurler would shrug, sigh, open his notebook and find what address next was to be administered, and begin the long trudge to the new location, his huge, able hands nearly dragging the ground as he let those magnificent tools go slack and unwary.

We are a people who thrive on our hurling. Yes, there are other pursuits. But hurling has been part of our culture for as long as any of our civic jobs. If there are no house hurlers, then the dignity of lake tilters is diminished, light distenders suffer a loss of appetite for their manual labor. Tradespeople begin to suspect they are not valued, that the sum of their labor is the result of their action, not the application of their skill and their labor in their action.

And it is a loss of one more opportunity for our joy. There is no shaving the glee of someone whose house has been hurled.

But for now, the phone does not ring, with the caller unable to calm down, the house just having stopped its roll or slide, settling with a shiver and a shrug into its new place, workmen about connecting the utilities. There are no notices in the paper of new locations for houses, no offers for sheds seeking new pairings, houses seeking sheds. No one reminds lost visitors that a house has recently been hurled a mile north or south or east or west.

What to do?

There are a wealth of rumors, and the rumor-mongers go clack clack clack in their diligent and delightful work. But I think it will take some sort of appeasement, a show of our true gratitude. A public expression of our need for the house hurlers, an open and civic expression. Perhaps go to the monument massagers. Imagine, a stone house hurler at the center of town square, his mighty arm cocked, his eye in aim red and steel-sighted, springing at the waist and ready to hurl without prejudice or favoritism.

At the sight of it, maybe they would reconsider. Maybe they would forgive us.

Author Bio


Ken Poyner’s collections of short fiction, “Constant Animals” and “Avenging Cartography”, and his latest collections of poetry, “Victims of a Failed Civics” and “The Book of Robot”, can be obtained from Barking Moose Press. He serves as bewildering eye-candy at his wife’s power lifting affairs. His poetry lately has been sunning in “Analog”, “Asimov’s”, “Poet Lore”; and his fiction has yowled in “Spank the Carp” and “Red Truck”; his story, "The Detached Regularity," appeared in Issue #42 of The Cafe Irreal; "Suspicion" in Issue #49; and "The Taming of the Orikind" in Issue #57.