Like the mechanical movements of a universal watch, the planets move in deliberate synchronization. Some spin fast, some pass slowly. The horology is exact and calculated. Laughably, we can never begin to comprehend the mainspring that wound it. The Hubble Telescope allows us to see the gear train that pushes the wheels that speed the pinions, yet all we know is that every thirty days or so, the bright moon is full and round once again. How little we comprehend.
The sun spits, flares and furies, blistering toward the great Solar Maximum. The celestial revolution oscillates to the alignment of the Mayan, to the Day of the Great Reckoning, to the day the world will end.
Tuder took a tiny bump of the chunky pale meth. No smoking tonight. Tonight was all about control. Carefully parceled snorts, no lines. He chased the nasal fury with a gargle of sweet Pabst. “Gotta lay that out too bro,” he reminded himself, “Stay focused.”
As third lead in the guild, tonight’s questing was gonna be slow and hard and determined. He texted his right lieutenant, “Shits from Aussie r online and we gotta book outta Kalimdor 4 the East Kingdoms wit credits.”
Tuder covered his ears with headphones and hit ‘play’. Like a wet tongue on a car battery, the soundtrack to the movie “Inception” threw him into the steampunked Zion of Azeroth. Tuder was ready, ready for Hell.
Something was tickling her nose and the sharp sensation woke her abruptly. Alma quickly realized that she was laying on the bedroom floor. The nestles of acrylic carpet fibers masked her face.
Worrisome disappointment and a palpable fear made her sigh out loud. Her right arm, pinned underneath her, was numb and fuzzy hot. With a rocking motion, Alma generated the momentum to roll onto her back. Either her right arm was asleep or maybe she had had a stroke. Her heart beat faster to the thought.
Of good Mid-Western stock, she didn’t feel any pain anywhere. Her toes wiggled. She chuckled that her soft fat frame protected the brittle bones of her eighty-four year old skeleton. She always worried about breaking a hip. That’s as good as a death sentence. A broken hip is the first step down and out. She didn’t feel any pain in her hip. Both hips.
Alma struggled. She tried to bring her knees up, but she couldn’t bend far enough to find traction. With a weary cackle, she thought about the funny old TV commercials, “I’ve fallen but I can’t get up!”
Alma pushed with her good arm and she was able to roll sideways, moving toward the coffee table with the telephone across the room. She rocked till she rolled again. And once more again. She had to hold her dead arm as she rolled. Alma was breathing hard from the exertion. Over. Again.
Her forehead hit the short metal leg, a curly-cue fleur-de-lis of the low-slung table. It blistered hot instantly. She touched it with her fingertips. The hurt was wet and sticky. She knew it was blood but did not know where to wipe it because she didn’t know what she was wearing. A housecoat? An apron? Alma nodded down to realize she was wearing her nightie. She wiped her fingers on the carpet.
Looking up through the glass-topped table, Alma felt for the handset of the telephone. She dialed 9-1-1 and hit TALK. Nothing happened. There was no dial tone. She hit several more keys but heard only a deafening silence. The phone was dead, uncharged, unpaid, or?
Alma flushed hot and dizzy. Her stomach pitched and she felt sick. She wasn’t sure what to do. Out here, calling for help was useless.
“No, I won’t do it!” For dramatic emphasis, she slapped the palm of her hand onto the in-laid wood cutting board that was a built-in to the island in the middle of the stainless steel kitchen. “No. We will not get rid of that!”
Tim was pissed, angry and invisibly humiliated. “What then? Put the kids in public school? Want a used car?”
“Don’t even try for humor, bucko. We have discussed this ad nauseam. (Ad nauseam was her new favorite expression.) We can cut other things. We can let go of…”
He interrupted her with an outstretched hand and measured words. “We are talking about five hundred and fifty dollars a month, plus, everything we spend there--You spend there. I don’t even use the fucking place.”
His last sentence was obliterated by a calliope of banging pots and pans. She had slapped her hand across the overhead rack of hanging cookware and it rang like an ugly wind chime.
“No. No. It’s why we live here, Tim. It’s the god-damned reason I married you. We will not get rid of that membership!”
Lors was nervously massaging his palm, creating deep red streaks. He couldn’t take his eyes off his stepdaughter. So young. She seemed to glow.
He called to his wife, “Margaret, go get some ice cream for dessert. The kid wants ice cream.”
From the kitchen, Margaret yelled, “Let’s go after dinner. For a drive.”
Lors replied slowly, “No. You go now.”
Ensign William W. Jones had to take decisive action. The false alarms on the rig were disrupting the health and welfare of the crew. Three or four times a night, on a tough schedule. How can we barrel oil with sleep-deprived men? Productivity suffered and Jones was sick of the cranky complaining.
He typed a memo to his senior manager to autograph. There wasn’t any doubt; all of his memos got approved. That’s one of the reasons he had risen in the ranks.
Barty hit the soft brown silt, hard. She landed on her back and the fine dust, microscopic river sands, carousel-led around her and danced. It had been a single shot. A rifle. A sniper, not an attack. Her thoughts were simple, exact and in order. In the same manner as she had always lived her life.
“Why me here? I’m in maintenance… I’m not outside the zone. I am safe. No. Obviously not… The sky is so blue and my cammo is the same color as the dust and the rock. Fancy that.”
Philly: West Dauphin and North Eleventh was bad. Worse yet, Zargun Sahr, southeast of Gazni, off A01. Shit hole and No Where. Gimme Philly, Oh Lord.”
Toes. Feet. Calves. Thighs. Waist. No move. No feel. No go. This ain’t a-go.
Fingers. Hands. Forearms. Elbows. Move.
Barty pulled open the pocket on her right sleeve with her left hand and liberated the ear buds. With both hands, she placed each of them in their proper place. She couldn’t lift her head, no matter how hard she tried. Like reading Braille, she felt to find the iPod in her breast pocket.
She was so tired, so suddenly.
By touch, she hit play.
Instantly, Ghostface Killa, Trife, Sheek and Bully of the Wu-Tang took her home. The trombones blew their back-pedal noise to Kingdom come. “For this city, to get this money, Vegas, yo, yeh, What am I living for? What am I living for?”
Matt threw down the remote and set his beer bottle on the coffee table. He felt it rise from his gut to his throat and both hands leapt to cover his face. The pressure had been building. A sob was trying to escape and he was going to cry.
But nothing happened. Nothing happened. The sensation fled as quickly as it appeared.
Matt sat still in the dark. He had failed when he needed relief the most. He felt like he had lived through a million wars of a million years of a million heartaches. His body, his upper chest and his head felt like a balloon ready to pop, incapable of taking even the slightest breath of air or another indignity.
There was nothing he wanted more in the world than to cry. If he could cry, all the pressure and the burden and the heartache would go away. If only he could cry.
Tyler wanted to try it, just once, to hear what it sounded like. He took the batter’s stance. Feet apart, on line. Rock back on the rear leg; the bat high above his head. Lean into it. Give it all you got.
It sounded like hitting a watermelon.
She typed furiously with two index fingers. Each keystroke was a stab.
“What is this supposed to be a commercial endeavor? An art project? And what's in it for people like ME? -- Who have very little (read 'NO') patience for business that doesn't benefit their own everyday business(es), and for that matter not much patience for art that is less than amazing? Let me know, will you? And to address the absurd self-indulgence of some of your written works. -- This is not about YOU. Your words should re-focus to address this audience, this particular forum. But what you bring to it has to be at that level or better. & It’s not. (& I'm not saying I consistently deliver whatever goods I'm supposed to be peddling, either. But I’m elevating the standard, the perceptive quality - - I'm rarely happy with what I turn in. But I really try to trim the worst of it & I'm always conscious of the audience.) -- But talk about your self-indulgence!?! It's beyond Paris Hilton level.”
From Gottverlassen Magazin, translated from the German: “… once they fell, they never got up due to the stampeding and panicked party crowd at the Love Parade. Heimer Unger, father of sixteen-year-old Heidi Unger, said that he and his wife received a text message from their daughter approximately an hour before the time of her death. It read, “I love you.”
From Art ‘N Star Magazine: “What does a Gucci model, the prestigious Museum of Contemporary Art, a ham-handed daytime soap opera and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have in common? The End of the World, done in good taste? The faux pas of a gaudy floppy hat and the wrong shoes while you are standing in-line at the Pearly Gates? Or could it be actor James Franco chewing the scenery with a guest spot on General Hospital and calling it Phine Art? If you chose the latter, hang on to your airline sick sack. When he’s not busy cashing his Spiderman residual checks, Franco is a self-professed artist. To rub insult with injury, Franco and his new General Hospital co-star, MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, have filmed their steamy love scene in front of a live-audience at the MOCA satellite museum in West Hollywood. The end of the world is upon us.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at ww.GordyGrundy.com