You Got a Job on the Garbage Barge

Amanda Lee Franck

The Garbage Barge has been slogging up and down the coast for years, putting into port and accepting unwanted things in exchange for gas to keep the tugboats running. It is a towering, leaking wreck, and it’s your home. You are a wizard or a pirate radio operator or a raccoon or a barge worker, or maybe you raise goats in the listing high rise that’s been dumped on the stern. Things grow in the trash. Chemicals are leaching out of rusted barrels, growing legs, and setting off to seek their fortune. Beetles tell you their life stories, raccoons steal your pens. Something in a diving suit disappears into oil-slick bilge water in search of baroque pearls. A forest of rebar sings in the salt wind. Out past the gas lake, there’s a town on fire. It’s been like that as long as anyone can remember. They say that no matter how far into the trash you go, it keeps going.

Most towns will pay just to get the barge to leave. Disposing of objects and people that are too dangerous, embarrassing, or on fire is a bonus. The barge is always hiring, and it’s a great way to get out of town quick. It’s not a great way to make money, but you might find something you never realized you were missing.

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