It's A Hard Block Life

Originally published Wednesday June, 14th 2006


The sun always beams down hot on the town of Mortlair. Known by many as the brick capital of the west coast, a land covered in vast piles and heaps of bricks. Mortlair boasts seventy-nine active kilns and furnaces that churn out an ever-changing community of bricks. Bricks, Blocks and Cubes all abide by a rigid hierarchy and caste system. Power is seated with the Cinder Blocks, a burley group of coarse grey cement figures. As the key stone to the modern brick society, Cinder Blocks gather every hundred days at large social parties. These parties are often catered, all-day events that sprawl off the yards and into the streets of the gated all-Cinder Block neighborhood. Amidst the revelry, elder Blocks exchange loaded glances and stares to communicate points onto several great running debates amongst bricks.

There are several facts still in question within the hearts and minds of the brick world. Where does mortar come from? Is it proper for Bricks to be cored, and if so, should four holes be considered garish? Not to mention, the never-ending discussion of what is the future of the block. It is from these discussions that the ideas for governing Mortlair spring. When an idea is presented that cannot be instantly refuted, Cinder Blocks decree to the Glazed Bricks that the idea be made law. From there, the message travels to the Fire Bricks who spend their days obeying the Glazed Bricks, who tell them how they should manage the common Brick piles. Fire Bricks order Clinker Bricks to enforce the punishment of halfing all Pressed, Cored, and Clay bricks that refuse to abide the Cinder Blocks’ decrees.

The world of a Clay Brick is not fair; their lives are spent sitting on crowded pile communities where there is little room to stretch out and little access to the sunlight for most residents. Complaints are rarely heard, as these “lesser” Bricks fear the fate of being a Half Brick, which are destined to patch uncomfortable spots in walls.

With some descent in the community, drama is inevitable in a community of building supplies. Recently, a strong-curled Clay Brick named Sando Bluntface has undertaken a strict regime of daily firings and bake outs to be forged as hard as the Cinders. Unlike his family, Sando did not revere the stoic Grey Blocks. He had made his own ideas about brick kind. He had spent many years as weight on a mechanical pack mule that gave walking tours of Death Valley. He spent his youth in this constant heat, which made Sando’s hide harder than most Clay Bricks. He had seen the world outside of Mortlair, and he new what struggles laid before his people. He devised an ingenious plan to sneak into the Grey Block party by coating himself in the ash of a kiln.

A daring move for sure, Sando played it cool when stopped by a Rent-a-Cop at the gate to the Hill Valley Estates. Remaining motionless under pressure, the Rent-a-Cop believed that Sando was just a handicapped Cinder and allowed him entry. Inside the gate, Sando finally had his chance to mingle in the realm of public opinion. His excitement was short-lived however; the aristocratic Blocks were not social at all with the Crippled Block. He tried will all his might to get someone to notice the thoughts on his face, but nobody would notice him. He felt isolated in the corner of a party.

He was about to give up and head home when he spied a stash of tequila lying, untouched, in the guesthouse of the host Brick. Breaking through the window with ease, Sando snatched the booze and whipped up some of his famous Brick-Pile Margaritas. He brought the mix over to the buffet table and placed where everyone would notice it, right next to the shrimp cocktail platter. Within an hour, the party went from regal to raging; Bricks on Bricks, mortar shots. It was sure to go down as the party of the year.

Intoxicated, the Cinders started to notice the Block that brought the great drinks. Sando had his chance! He finally had a chance to say what had been on his mind. He shouted, “We need to rotate the Bricks on the pile so they can harden!” A great cheer erupted from the crowd. Many bricks shouted “Genius” and “Corner!*”

Now accepted into high society, Sando has chosen to remain as a secret operative for the common Brick. He has already gotten his wish to have his communities rotated through the light. He hopes in the next hundred days to unionize the Brick workforce and archive equal rights across the brick world.

The Axis of Stevil, even though not acknowledged by bricks, is supportive of Sando’s efforts and has promised one hundred cases of Cuervo 1800 to Sando Bluntface in support of his progressive thoughts and actions.

* Brick superlative, short for corner stone. Used rarely, it is a term of great praise.

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