by A C Payne
A short story
Holiday in the Sun
Mincemeat pie... on Meathead Monday, no less. To stress is to put the meatloaf back in the vat, as to say the nuke was a fluke from the start. My job today was to sell out shells (mimeographed sheets of licenses and serial numbers tucked in manila stacks on my desk, lucky I'm not the chap in the warehouse...), twelve chalked-off shelves of sea-Planters. There's boxes chock-full of mollusk and lobster errata, gooey gum-tight bivalve Bugs Bunny chompers, big white molars, incisors the size of wholesale pliers... this season's hottest, sure to inspire.
The pink-flag wiretap skyline came alive around five the shadow nonetheless, caught cautiously on bended bay past east Packingtown, mousetraps and all, hung loose as lip-slips in ocean liner Hadrons, gridirons locked in ironside ring-around smackdowns, sister! Stalled stoplight, freeway half-clogged from decades of stop-and-go orange cones and hardhats. Sun-rusted condos sat frescoed over the horizon, drywall still stuccoed in split-end subdivisions, cuticles dusted in jammed-knuckle sandwich crumbs... the bone-white skeleton key to last night's fiasco... each blow a Lascaux canvas, the whole ordeal plus asbestos. Her ugly eyes, glinting pebbles in Lake Lacrimosa... highlight of our bombastic bombshell bummer-of-a-summer, the oceans lined with Roanoke's waves, wolfing down supper before the championship tidal.
We waved back to San-Fran, danced for Miles, nautical, no doubt, don't speak of trying times... fun, for all and all for, while honeybun shopped, six floors, on all fours. Club soda, six martinis on the rocks, wardrobes of leonine coats; a zebra-skin coin-purse, the Zanzibar beast holding honeybun's Px-from-the-Alps, azure doll-eyes entranced, my bubbly blonde bombshell, and vat does the mademoiselle think about zat, monsoir?
There was a fair lass from the Rhe
Who loved many wines from Bourgogne
When selecting Grenache
She replied with panache
"I'd rather have Cabernet Sauvignon"
Tall Sammy Bojangles on the keys, sequin suit, flakes of Mood Indigo, La Valse across the Bendorfer's white ivory... pairs of barelegged barely sixteens sneaking off to second-floor suites - those doors alone could light my fire. White-topped tables, God forbid, a swine-head centerpiece, encircled by the finest three-pieces of New England's old money, bellies bloated from white man's bourbon, those cutthroat hammered hammerheads in the furloughed Casino, lights low, red-velvet walls smattered in Herr Goering's private collection. All the while a static persists, a faint tintinnabulation, far-off Chinese fire-drill... deafening white noise, blackboards screaming... Jump, Jump, Jump on it! The wire snaps...
...All floors evacuate before, and this is El Capitan speaking, ol' USS Conrad says her final vows, for the napping near those blooming mollies... undercut by the bluish Moor, yes to say yes of course I, yes, said my prayers... either or... what's more, Papa stayed busy peeling packaged papists plenty paltry; poultry pulled, parsed, perfectly precluding poorest personas... pariahs placed in perfect Poisson, Plancks apart. Dead souls so joyless... no pleasure wrought from union, sinners in division's wake... Hark! High above sung crying Sherpas atop a golden crag, Babel in penumbral afterthought. Grand chandelier, o gilded threat above, spiraling in Panthnique splendor, saccharine-frosted lights waving madly like twentysomethings in the motorcade... many young Catholics aboard to meet their makers. His fingertips V-2 thunderclaps, a billion electron-volts in ultraviolent epilepsy, starboard and suits erect in heavenly praise... Das Frlein clothed in sun-kissed swimwear... insects, all aboard, sprawled beneath skyline synapses firing at eleven. Massive floodlights cavorting, high atop glassy-eyed Ajax, jackknifing at Poseidon's mercy. There I was, head half-submerged, ulna fractured by our overturned table. Second-floor glass cascaded over honeybun, tanning in SSRI-Sunshine, face-down in the rising tide... sightline scorched by salt air and quinine. Hailstones crashed through an ever-growing sinkhole above deck, its theatrics dissolved in suicidal freefall, a crazed self-implosion accelerating at Death's pace, gravity unrelenting, hellfire roaring. We clung for dear life on God's grim fulcrum, nature's whim unveiled as malice, unbent by mortal strongarms... crosswinds cut by the tritone wail of coastguard sirens. It was all whirlwind, heat, and flash, a riotous Le Sacre and we danced and danced on the world's grand stage, Broadway spotlights crisscrossing above, unknowing, friend and fiend entangled, one hand, one heart!
Doldrums. A cold pot roast, over-garnished with snippets of Honey's windowsill spice garden, Zagat's "playful dish" for tonight's table pour une... No appetite, Honeybun? Leno's on down the hall, muffled applause, closed door suggesting Lexapro, lapis lazuli eyes fluttering softly shut, Dr. Benzo rowing her lovely little head to shore, no fuss, no worries, pal. No worries? Quarterly sales are boomin' baby! You can bet those VPs are dining downtown tonight - tables reserved post-haste, fingers crossed for a second vacation, meanwhile head honcho - the Big Man Upstairs, showing off fresh Titanium-White business cards Drachma Silver Helvetica - Hey, who's complaining? Not me, no siree... thirty-watt halogen buzzing overhead, standstill traffic below a ghastly ambiance, the city in a restless lowercase, the day's inertia winding down, a lonely power series slowly but surely approaching its zero. The air holds an incompleteness, uncharted by G/FONT>del, our presbyoptic eyes unfit to see, overtones climbing in log curves, infinite, all-permeating... since when? Since little league games with Mikey on shortstop, Joey Silva's gut-busting fastballs, clambering to catch homeruns at Cubs games, late nights in Hyde Park days, stumbling over Ms. Forget-Me-Not, the Midway moonlit in crystalline clarity... since firelit honeymoons overtop Banff's black diamond snowcaps, sky frozen in green-gold... summer? Like anything changed... summers on summers fell backwards in trust, sun-starved pines knotted over deadfall and amanita. The forest is always empty, a woodland limit squeezed lifeless between Earth and sky; two airliners kiss in near-miss, joined at a single nothingness, nature's cruel calculus. Isolde, limp in Tristan's embrace, smoldering in daybreak's tryst, lay encamped deep in Nordschwarzwald - der Schliffkopf unseen. Unsung, huddled neath churlish fronds... under the Great Volcano, midsummer air hot and thick, erupting, stonewind billowing down shrouded mountainsides... The Alpine Combine is a state-of-the-art facility, I assure you... assurance only of the slow-death, the inevitable march, the day-in-day-out, the tweed suits and sales meetings and carrot-on-the-stick promotions and HR reports and the clock, the swinging pendulum... the black suede shoes, slick shoeshine, creeping over the pit. I dare to gaze only to find those ugly eyes, rusted bloodlust splattered on white studio walls, hundredfold, a mud-caked diaspora, snuggled complicit enough under white-man's china, bull-shattered dreams in single-cells... best they stay real quiet, best those Camel-yellowed shades stay pulled real low, catching heat in low-orbit. Their lives mirror ours, the same circadian circus, pale negatives... Yin and Yang. FM-Radio Rumor has it they frequent fluorescent-lit laundromats on late-nights, those sick purple eyes, bony full-moon half-dollars with quarters in hand, slim-living as brothers and sisters, crawling on the concrete jungle floor. No, us nighthawks hang in high-rise canopies, Handsome and Honeybun footloose on exotic hardwood; His Master's Voice, a guilty chardonnay, two sips-too-many, a glass? Who cares? C'est la vie... it couldn't hurt my baby, now could it? Not with your eyes, Honeybun... as pure as an azure sky of deepest summer... not a chance... One more round, baby:
Why, the hills are greener than Austria!
Why, I say, it's a mighty fine place
The sunshine's brighter than Mexico
On the First Lady's pretty-white face!
Take me home to the Rockies and countryside
Under purple and star-spangled skies
In railcars for miles on junctions abroad
Thank God I'm not one of those guys!