The beautifully terrible and terribly beautiful...
Fragile Glory is a novel that consists of five different stories about an abandoned mall and people who relate to it. Each story sets a different tone and contributes to a greater picture of the whole scenario. It is a saga of nostalgia, decay, euphoria, melancholy, new found objectives and shattered dreams. The five chapters are named after different times of the day, which is a metaphor for the final glory days of a piece of history that is bound to be demolished.
Footsteps. Reverberant echoes taking a stroll on the cool marble floor. One mystery roamer in a monument of faded decadence. Never before had she seen anything like this. She covers her eyes as broken sunrays shine upon her through the massive glass dome. Dazed by her curiosity she doesn't notice the shadow stalking her. One more stare into the distance. He places his hand on her shoulder. She lets slip a muted shriek and rams her elbow into whoever lingers behind her.
A relieved smile kills the awful fright as she recalls a familiar face. Fuck! Don't you ever sneak up on me again. He squints his eyes, trying to hold back his diabolical grin. I'm sorry, just couldn't resist. I always had a soft spot for memorable entrances, besides I'm the one who's suffering now! He places his right hand on his chest, probably rethinking his future sneak-up plans. Well then, what do you think? Once again her eyes look into the distance, passing fashion stores, coffee shops, escalators, grocery stores, giant plastic plants and such. It's scary somehow, yet intriguing at the same time. And you say we're all alone here?
Well, obviously someone's been here before, you came in through a broken window after all but what are the odds? It's not like you find a place like this every day. He reaches for the pocket of his jacket and withdraws a pack of cigarettes. Thought you were kicking your habit? He holds a lighter up to this chin and lights up his cigarette. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! The two decide to take a walk. Deeper and deeper they delve into the terribly beautiful and beautifully terrible. Broken bottles of beer, old soft-drink machines, loose cables protruding from the wall where once ATMs stood, graffiti everywhere, an endless journey through the land of „More than meets the eye". It seems like a requiem for big business dreams – sure there is some mourning: Birds going their appointed rounds, the windy chill breaking through the partly damaged dome, cracking pieces of glass with every step made. Right around the corner used to be a bar – not too shabby, not even today. There are still some old fixed bar stools and bleached out pictures on the wall, smiley faces, content in the face of celebration. Some kind of anniversary it seems. „Olde Brazil", that's the name of the bar. The sign is faint yet still readable. Awestruck, she lets slip an audible gasp. What happened to this place?
As far as I know this place used to big in the 90's. Then another mall opened its gates, just out of town. This mall was not fit for competition, besides the owner was supposedly involved in some nasty scams. When he was busted, this place became vacant and after the financial crisis it kind of slipped under the radar. He points into the direction of some elevator shafts. Over there is a viaduct, some kind of foot-bridge leading to another part of the mall. You see, the whole thing consists of two huge rectangles connected by a small overpass. There are no windows and it's not illuminated in any other way, so as you can imagine it is quite dark there. She follows him as he heads towards the darkness. Intimidating like a 9 feet tall solid onyx wall, black as the night. Ugh, I can't even see my own hands. She aimlessly flails her arms around. May I be of assistance? He puts on his lighter. If we place some candles here and maybe some battery-powered LED-tubes...that might do. She gives him a suspicious look. Are you up to something?
He shapes a square with his fingers. I'm thinking of throwing a party! She insecurely stares at him. A party!? You've got to be kidding! He responds with a smile. You know, I've been thinking about this, we'd make it a BYOB. We could invite Dane and his posse, you know he's in that band...what was their name again....Immatrika! Copper-thieves have been busy around here but there are still some electric outlets. I know this place is a mess right now but come on, don't tell me you're not starting to see the potentials. She's scrutinizing him with a very inspecting look, then she drops her guard and sports a cheeky grin. You sure are some crazy SOB but it might as well work, I'm gonna give you that.
The grand day, two partners in crime working exhaustively on the preparations for the party. It's amazing what we've made out of this place. She's taking some time-out, sitting on a pile of empty plastic boxes, sipping on a can of Coke. You know, with all those lights we're almost slipping into a romantic territory. She gets up and jokingly forms a heart with her fingers. He's still contemplating the result of all their work, seemingly not reacting to her shenanigans. If you say that. The wind gently whispers through the cracks in the dome. The drowning sun draws cascades on the marble floor. Why did you run away? You gave us days of uncertainty, you wouldn't answer when someone called you. And then you pull off something like that. You know, I always back you and this time we're obviously doing something really intriguing but I can't shake the feeling that you're hiding something from me. Are you okay?
I'm alright, I just needed some timeout. Guess I just had to find myself. Their conversation is interrupted by a silhouette entering the hall. A dark figure with a slightly crooked posture, sporting a Bauhaus-tee is slowly approaching the two conspirators. Hi there, Dane! Where's the rest of the band? Dane stretches his head to the left side. Stuck in a traffic jam I s'pose. The hell do I know. Brought a few cold ones with me. Got a smoke?
A few hours later all guests have arrived., a total of 24 people, a radiant bunch consisting of the band, a few art students and close friends. They have settled down in the huge atrium right in front of some escalators. The scene is illuminated by dim blues and reds. Laughter echoes through the huge complex. The partygoers are having a good time, chatting, sipping on a bottle of beer, smoking some pot. Every now and then Immatrika play some of their tunes, mostly improvising since their environment is not too compatible with their equipment. The host is leaning against a wall on the upper floor, overlooking the whole scenario. He's teetering to the deep reverberating bass-lines, sensing a subtle touch of the wind, reaching through the cracks. Suddenly a tap on his shoulder: Revenge! Gotcha at last, ha! He turns to her. Listen, I was wrong to question your integrity. It turned out great, all the people are having fun. It's like it used to be. You've really set something up. He takes a sip from his bottle of beer. WE have!
Alright, we have! I'm gonna tell Hank you had a great idea. I don't know why but he doesn't like you very much. He thinks you're some kind of weirdo. I've tried to convince him that you're a decent guy over and over again. We've known each other for a long time after all. Her eyes are peering upon the lively crowd. Anyway, let's change the subject. This place seems so familiar, it's like a childhood memory. Speaking of which...no, sorry!
Tell me, what is it?
You might think I'm silly but do you think there is one of those nostalgic coin-rides? I used to love them.
Yes, there actually are some in the northern end of the mall, we'd have to pass through viaduct. I'll take a few tubes with me. They are heading towards the overpass, accompanied by the screeching sound of Dane's vocals. Walking through the damp blackness they seem like fireflies approaching the unknown. Somewhere in the distance they can make out a faint source of light. The moon is shining through the diagonally aligned glass ceiling. There we go, it's going to be a long walk through the corridor, those rides are situated in the very edge of the complex. Hope you like horses. Those things used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid, it's like they stare right into your soul with their dead eyes. She's smiling at him.I don't mind em', except for when they go all savage and rogue. But you know what they say, wild spirits can't be tamed!
Oh, here we are! Look at these ugly things, haunting. She playfully punches him in the upper arm. Ah, come on, they're charming! Once again his face is decorated with a slightly evil grin. Yeah, I guess you're right, oh look someone carved „Wide Load" on its butt. She takes a seat atop the slightly mangled coin-operated horse. He reaches for his pocket and withdraws two quarters. What? You wanted a ride, it's worth a try, right? He inserts the coins into the slot.
It's still working! I can't believe it's still intact. He strikes a self-endorsing pose. She starts to giggle but suddenly she curbs her euphoria. Listen, there's a reason why I wanted you to bring me here. I wanted to talk to you in private without anyone noticing it. Somehow I just can't shake the feeling that there's something wrong with you. Why all this hiding? I think there's more to it then what you decided to tell me. Why did you run away? We all were terribly worried about you. You are behaving so strange lately.
I was...I was running from you, as a matter of fact I was running from myself. But then I just had to phone you, had to have you around. He is playing with a sticker attached to the horse. Figured it would be fun for you to see as well.
What do mean? You were running from me?
He bites his lower lip and hesitates for little while. You know, I always thought you were different from all the other girls. Being the bum I am I could never live up to that. Then again seeing you with Hank made me shiver. I think I lost myself.
What is this supposed to mean?
He chokes. Liz, it's so damn hard for me to say the words but...
He lights another cigarette.