New Story!

Here’s a little doodle I’ve been working on that’s a little different from what I’ve written before.  Please tell me what you think.  It’s an attempt at a Donald Barthelme story, I guess…

Without Us

It begins with all of the letters.  Consonants and vowels wander from the page before they can be read, marching like ants in straight lines down library shelves and out into the street.  Signs on street corners stand befuddled and blank, as if waiting for a cab that will never arrive.  Old men who’ve waited to savor Proust, or Joyce, or Tolstoy until they could put in the time, after kids and jobs, flip through the books of blank pages and weep.  Keyboards go dead.  Pencil points dull under the weight of worried hands but leave no mark on the page.  The internet has become unusable, a repository of pornographic pictures no one can access.  GPS is completely fucked.

The music follows, note by note.  Each plucked string or blown, brassy blast floats out and away, never to be heard again.  John Cage fans are smug and ecstatic.  Some pianists, frenzied and hopeless, pound out reams of Rachmaninov until their instruments fall dumb and become nothing more than furniture, which the same pianists chop into kindling to warm their houses.

Art slides off of gallery walls in great rectangular glops, slapping onto the marble floors like vomit and ooze out the open museum doors. Some say the Pollocks look better that way.  Some pretend nothing is happening, and stare at the blank canvases, convinced that the obscene, woven ecru staring back at them is simply a new exhibit in minimalism.  Rodin’s sculptures rise and walk, refusing eye contact, not answering questions.  Gigantic steel girders–fused, abstract, jutting—rip away from their mornings and trudge down city streets like prehistoric mantises.

Everything heads East.

Film stars watch as their projected selves wander off screen, into their living room, and out of their houses, ghosts, dead behind the eyes, though their stride is purposeful, their steps sure.  Sets slide off screen.  Landscapes fade.  Nothing is left but the white rectangular glare of a chugging lantern.  Godard declares this a new golden age of film.

East.  All of it.

The words in our mouths, the sounds that we make, are next.  Tongues swell and grow fuzzy, like a child’s mitten.  Teachers welcome the silence, though they’ve run out of things to teach, and courtrooms are filled with wildly gesticulating puppets and lots of pointed fingers.  There is a lot of staring, except those who can’t bear to watch anymore.  They cover their eyes with silver strips of duct tape and lay on their couch.  They look dead, and happy.

Studies are instigated but dropped when no one can decide how to record the results.  Lawmakers call emergency sessions only to sit stern and silent; legislation has become staring contests, nursed along by past resentments.  Not a lot changes, politics-wise.

One morning the pets and children rise from silent but vivid dreams, turn towards the rising sun, and set off.  They walk, crawl, skip, drag themselves.  To the east.  It’s tragic, and would be unbearable if anyone could remember why they are so alone.

The grown-ups spin in lazy circles on their front lawns for days, wondering why they feel so sad and wondering what it is they have lost.  Their faces are blank.  The expressions change only to block out the sun or blink away the rain.

They will head east too.  That is what they will do.  And great masses of wandering feet move as one, lock-step, through the yards and ball fields and shopping mall parking lots until their bare feet feel the sand of the coast, and the cool lapping waves against their shins, and knees, and waists, and necks, and the salty wash rinses against their lips and the taste is elemental and pure and the only thing they know.


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