Monday, November 24, 2003

After the last few guests left the auditorium Jeffery got to work. First he picked up all the trash left in chairs, and items left behind on accident he put on the table in the back. Afterwards he started to sweep between the pews and underneath them. Three maybe four gum wrappers, probably from some of the kids, most of the adults were too close to tears. About an hour later all the wood had been polished and he was finished for the day.

Jeff walked to the open casket and looked down at the face fo the deceased. Made to look like he was only sleeping, his head resting on a pillow so soft that the living could only envy it. You couldn't tell by looking but Jeff knew that the head would bend in directions that would make you ill to look at because the neck was so cleanly broken. It had happened because of a skiing accident. He had no wife, no kids. Suddenly Jeff's nostrils stung and flared as fresh smoke wafted up into them.

He spun around startled as much by the smell as though he had been alerted to the other's presence by a punch to the back of his head. David stood there and took another drag on his cigarrette without even batting an eye as Jeff jumped. While Jeff caught his breath, David pulled the cigarrette from his mouth, the red smouldering tip leaving tracers of smoke as he moved his hand to his side and opened his mouth like a spector and a great billowing cloud of smoke poured out as he exhaled darkening his features before disipating into nothing.

" Jittery little guy, aren't you? " he said with his blue eyes leveled at Jeff.

" No... well... yeah... I mean no, I'm, " Jeff stammered as he tried to force out his sentence, " I was just thinking to myself and I didn't hear you behind me. " Then, to recover his ground he added, " How is the reception going? "

David took another drag on his cigarrette, the motion finally irritating Jeff conciously but not enough for him to mention it. " I've hosted more entertaining crowds, but I suppose there isn't anything really wrong with that. What were you thinking about? "

" I don't really know, " he answered, " mostly something along the lines of how bad a card this guy drew from the deck. I mean, he had everything that I wanted. A life of sorts, a job he probably loved, and nice little sports car, and he get's cut off on a ski trip. It's a crying shame is what my sister would say. " Jeff said as he looked back down at the guy in the casket trying to ignore the nagging feeling that Jeff should be taking care of the guests at the reception. Trying to listen to that little voice that told him he was the outsider here. That the guy in the casket was dead and the smoke wouldn't bother him.

" Cry me a river. "

" What? "

" Go ahead and cry me a river with that crying shame bullshit. If the guy had a good life what does it matter when he bites the big one? " David's eyes sparkle as he let the words burn and smoulder and mingle with the smoke wisping from his mouth and nostrils after every drag from the ever shortening cigarrette. " Everyone's got to go sometime, but what does it matter how much fun you had when your dead? You know what the crying shame is? The real irony? "

Jeff only stared.

" This fucker had a good life and he's dead, " David spit the words from his mouth, " and it doesn't make a difference cause he wouldn't have appreciated that extra week if he'd had it. It would have just been another good week. My life is a great big hole of shit and I'm still alive. If I could die a week before I'm supposed to I could appreciate that it was one less week I'd have to come to terms with. That's the real fucking shame "

He turned on his heals in a single smooth motion and walked out of the room his feet tapping on the hardwood floor. Each step resounding clearly in the silent room, each tap of a heal as clear and crisp as every word he said right before he left. When he was out of sight Jeff turned back down and took one last look at the man in the casket. He decided that he couldn't look anymore without feeling sick and he left the room as well.

Monday, November 17, 2003

"I love the stars more than anything else in the world when I look up at them at night now. They used to be just stars, but now, " Robie looked at Gabrielle with eyes that spoke wordlessly what his lips were unable to express. How much more what he saw awed him than he ever previously would have believed that it would have been possible.

She nodded back to him that she understood and to continue as she nuzzled next to his arm and looked back up into the endless night. She felt warm and safe against his arm. His voice calmed her like nothing else could have at the moment. The tears that had streaked her cheeks earlier that night had dried and she could feel their salty trails cooler than the rest of her skin.

Comforted that he didn't need to express something that he didn't know how, Robie continued, " The stars are like a great equalizer for all people. Like nothing else the stars are the same for everyone. No one has been to the stars, and no one alive today will ever visit the stars. We can compare who visited the moon and who has how many probes on mars, and even sent a chunk of metal outside the solar system, but the stars... all people are still equal beneath them. Each one just as unkown as all the others, each one beyond any conceivable distance, and when I look at them now I feel that this one thing and in this one way, I am the same as everyone else. There is no one better than me who has been to the stars, no one worse to me that hasn't been to them though I have. And in a world where there are increasingly more things and goals that make some people better or worse than others, I feel so free that this one thing makes me the same as every single person on earth. "

Gabby smiled as she listened to him. It was a really nice thought, so nice that she couldn't help but think of all the people she was mad at right now, mom, Frank, David. They didn't seem so bad right now, she even felt better about all of them, she felt a little happier. Other people made her feel happy and every time they did she felt a little love for them, right now it was Robie. There was no need to worry about other people right now, that would spoil what she had right now.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Michael leaned heavily onto the catwalk handrail, as his eyes wandered aimlessly over the internal contents of the facility. His brain simply couldn't decide what to soak in first, the dizzying height of the walk over the floor so far bellow or the machines and fans that still loomed so much higher above. It made him feel small. It made his world feel inconsistant, he could hear the plant running from a half a mile away, but here in it's heart with plugs in his ears there was only a sort of quite but dull roar that he felt in his body. He started as a hand touched him on his shoulder. When he turned around his guide motioned that it was time to move on.

The guide walked down toward a T in the catwalk and pointed at the far end of the split that went to the right to indicate that they were going to turn in that direction. Michael understood and his feet followed but he couldn't take his eyes off of the fans twirling overhead. Each blade he guessed was maybe sixty feet long. Each fan was massive as it spun overhead twirling with purpose and speed. The whole building was filled with activity but most of the machinery were inside of housings and the movement came from the people. The fans were simply godlike he thought as they made the turn and headed across teh plank to move towards the wall closest to the path that linked to the rest of the campus.
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