Master of Disaster/Breaking in the Fold
by Sabra Embury
Passing a glass-walled room, Oscar waved to an orangutan trying on designer jeans. “Use the sandblaster, Tina,” he said into a mike. He pushed a button releasing a snow cone from a shaft onto a refrigerated plate. Tina tossed the jeans aside, and with her favorite hammer in hand moseyed to the snack bar located in the corner of her furnished studio.
Oscar made his way to the end of the hall. Swiping his badge on a scanner, a green light rolled a bolt in the door in front of him, letting the handle give to a pull. Inside, Oscar took a pair of Ray Bans out of his lab coat and shielded his eyes. He flipped a switch on the wall beside him. A giant dangling bulb beamed from dim to bright, bringing with it a mob of gargantuan moths fluttering from a box of botanicals bloomed by sunlamp: sunflowers, lilacs, snapdragons, zinnias. Oscar made a mental note to cut down on the steroids filtering through the water in the sprinkler system. He reached for his walkie talkie attached to his hip by a harness. “Two boxes of Rubbish in 220, please.”
Today Oscar was working on distressing cabled pullovers for a company called Rubbish in both taupe and black: a relaxed, cable-knit sweater, threadbare and patched for a trendy, rugged-looking style. “Last time we put the pigs on this we had to turn the sleeves into tube scarves,” he thought, massaging his temple.
As the creative engineer of a textile distressing factory, brainstorming strategies for wear & tear seemed simple enough, but the fact was: fabric disastering, or “the art of the perfect fray,” had as many (if not more) stresses as any office or retail job might. The Stinky Floor for instance, which Oscar had nicknamed, held menagerie of livestock and other more exotic creatures. Officially titled: The Coarse Organics lab, it was a holding cell to a plethora of pigs, print parched piranas, and a vicious murder of crows who had a taste for denim a la mode “aka” jeans carefully daubed at the knees with vanilla bean ice cream. The crows cawed with smiling eyes whenever Oscar entered their sanctuary. And nevermore would he forget to leave anything edible in his locker. 48 stitches and a glass eye swore no chewy-chunked granola bar would ever see the Stinky Floor again.
When the boxes of cable-knits arrived, Oscar pinned them to a string of white christmas lights suspended above the grey concrete floor like a clothesline. He spritzed the sweaters with a sweet-smelling spray and waited, dimming the moth-orbited light with a switch.
One-by-one the gargantuan moths made their way from the dimmed bulb to the string of shimmering christmas lights, landing on the sweaters beaded, glistening damp with man-made nectar. Fluttering their grey wings in gentle swooshes, the moths began to graze the 100% acrylic sweaters, fraying then gently at the cuffs and ribbing. Scribbling figures onto his clipboard, the master of disaster pondered textures strong, light and soft.
Sabra Embury is a book critic for Brooklyn’s L Magazine and is a regular contributor at TROP, an online literary magazine based in Los Angeles. Her writing can be found in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Rumpus, Tottenville Review, NANO Fiction, and other places. Follow her antics on Twitter @yrubmEarbaS.