Town & Country Ch.8: Tunnel Light Dimming
On the far seeing television, Ricky watched the latest inauguration. This year’s president-elect had done well over the past thirty years to make a name for himself, and now he had been awarded his most daring roll yet. What, with his encyclopedic bodybuilding, acting and newfangled political resume, he had quite the reputation to match—that of his own. Now, after a few minor changes to some little noticed legal documents, Arnold Schwarzenegger was to become President of the United States. Minions, dressed in terminator costumes, showed up on this brisk January morning, chanting in unison: “Ahnold, Ahnold, Ahnold.”
Arnold took the oath, as so few had done before him, to protect this nation and defend its constitution. Landon saw on the television what was to come: there had, after all, already been a movie about what was to come. Now, after the dominant three television stations reran over and over again some of Arnold’s top films, the people could muster something deep within to be all that they could be—a leading cast of extras.
As the Terminator began his inauguration speech, a hazy transformation overcame him, puddling his image. Right in front of Landon’s third eye, Arnold turned into Mr. Avery. Landon’s emotions were mixed—he was seeing Avery, but inside still feeling Arnold. The white of a January day in Washington, D.C. morphed clearly into Los Angeles. Avery seemed shriveled on this day, like a faint image left on the computer screen for but an instant after it had been turned off.
The mood of each person in attendance was distanced from the present, as if they had been deemed unable to meet halfway between their personages. Instead of withdrawing from civilization—the dignified, sane recourse—they withdrew from each other. Gathering for speeches was the activity of choice when it came to connection—all eyes forward. Adages, Avery and the fellows who sat behind him crafted a sell-fulfilling-hologram, fine-tuning it to fit a certain tunnel, whose specificity became feasible only by way of the space between times. Stale speeches picked at scabs of recursion, walling in wordways and favoring the compartments of fixed attitude. The speeches grew over time more offensive.
“Hello my subjects of the great Seraville. Today we are gathered to discuss amongst ourselves the way in which we can battle a malady which is on all of our minds and threatens the very livelihood of everyone,” began Avery in an urgent, rattling tone. “This is something that weighs heavily on our hearts, this new threat: Man-Chubacabra-Bear-Pig Flu. Man-Chubacabra-Pig Flu, most likely, poses little threat to any of us, since I think, we are all blessed with nutrition enough,” Avery said snickering.
Snickering from the audience.
“But, it is crucial we prepare ourselves in the event of an emergency. For this reason and others, I have opted to implement a few new safety measures. There will be placed in most doorways here at Seraville temperature scanners. These will help alert us to those individuals prone to being carriers of Man-Chubacabra-Pig Flu. Also, and as some of you know, there are many among us who have agreed to take part in our clandestine program, whereby some selected community members will observe the other members, reporting on those who do not seem totally healthy, and even those who do not wash their hands. I want to personally assure each and every one of you that, in fact, these measures are by no means designed to curb the liberties all of you have enjoyed as members of Seraville. We stand united, shoulder-to-shoulder, prepared to weather tough times ahead, only to come out of them tighter-knit than before.”
Avery walked away from the podium.
And then, Landon awoke from a paradoxical sleep—unconscious and automatic—with Ana on his chest and a wanting sun knocking on the window.
A dream, it was all a dream. Passing events, from all dimensions, emplaced into an expansive memory bank, through sleep, images designed to aid in the torrential of coming perception. Are the irrational fears of children, so vague and so real, ghosts from ancient lives? Lions, tigers and bears, oh my… Dreams like leafing through a historian’s tome, from classical times, Middle Ages, Renaissance on down the idle and redundant treadmill of Western Civilization.
Only in this dream-induced history book, World War II startling starts with hundreds of pages peaking out from behind. Deep into the dream we read through our own times and on into the history books portrayal of the future, if only to find we cannot make out the individual words. The serifs on individual characters were sequestered variables in a never ending math equation, and letters could not be strewn together into words nor could words become sentences.
Landon was wide-awake in a cold sweat, Ana next to him. It was morning. The clock read 7:00 a.m. The taste of the mad dream lingering in his mouth, he slowly aroused himself from the warm sheets. He consistently found the sheets more comfortable in the morning than at night, but sleep was the ancient dominion of darkness and so he abided to reality. Without Ana’s noticing, he walked into the kitchen, brewed coffee and then, once it had finished, was out on the front porch, where he rolled a cigarette and lit it. In an inexpressible entanglement, the halcyon morning permeated Landon’s mind and cleared it of the fog from his dream, making room for a morning conversation in his mind.
“What a weird dream, so real and so fake,” he thought.
A couple jogged past the house, Landon felt alone. He flickered in the morning like a net blowing in omnipotent gusts of wind. On this brighter side of night, chirping birds flew by and trees sighed along sweeping eternal winds. On the cusp, but in the loop—all the same, but seemingly aloof—Landon wandered the contours of the nightmare fading. Where’d it go? Where had it come from? A watercourse through a lock of mountains, isolated and unreachable by man, nudging and separating brooks asunder, the dream came and went as a whisper in time.
His species dimming, Landon felt himself to be at the end of a 12 billion year evolving network of being, whose start launched the beginning of the dance sociality. Once a cipher droplet, everything that ever was and is and could have been conflagrated into an enormous sheath and cooled; at the lonely inauguration it rained quarks, neutrinos, photons, electrons, protons and neutrons. Now in the present, to be of refined manner, Landon was compelled by the gravity of other people to pretend acid rain was a thing of the past, that the entropy which shadowed the fall of man was, indeed, organized. He flicked his cigarette onto the patio and rolled another. He walked in his own mind. How strange it should be, he thought, that all of these particles were filled with need; the need to find a mate, the need to form a family—the need, in other words, to be a counterpart. He knit the algorithm together, finding the truth; however, inside of him it was dark. Deep down he knew what everyone knew, that no one person was meant to stumble onto truth—that was an endeavor for the whole human family to experience as one. Except, a slip-up long ago had thrown the path of human interaction off course, and now it was doomed, of course, to regress and relive the dark chapters of history. The light at the other end of the tunnel dimming, like an unfortunate soul clinging to the ledge of a high-rise, the fingertips of man had already slipped off the shelf of legitimacy.
So it went, on and on for eternity. Landon flicked the second-half of his second cigarette onto the patio and stood up. It was time for work. Ana was still asleep as he bent at the waist to brush her dirty blonde hair off her forehead. Her glasses were still on. He kissed her on the forehead, took her glasses off and set them on the nightstand beside the bed, and then kissed her nose. He rode his bike to work. At work, George was trimming the bushes on the gate outside the main entrance of the club, whilst Tim and Marlon sat on the inside of the guard booth. Landon noticed subconsciously that the two Marlon and Tim appeared to be in a heated discussion or debate. He wondered, sort of, what about. Was it about him and what had transpired at the mall? “Hi George,” Landon greeted.
“Oh, hey there Landon, how do you do?”
“I’m doing well George, thanks for asking.”
“Yeah no problem! You’re a good kid, you’re nice.”
“Thanks George. What are you doing?”
“I’m cutting the vines.” There was a moment of silence as the two looked around, first at the part of the fence George had trimmed already, and then at that part he had not. “You wouldn’t happen to know what the two security guards are talking about in their booth, would you, George?”
“Can’t say that I do.” George said. Meanwhile, on the inside of the booth, Tim and Marlon suffered their freshly paranoid existence.
“They’re gonna find us somehow, Marlon—they’re the cops.”
“I don’t know if that’s true. They weren’t looking for us before.”
“She saw our faces! She’s gonna have one of those painters draw them up so they can walk around the streets of LA asking, ‘have you seen these perps, they are both highly dangerous.’ They’ll probably put a color code on us—‘these are red level perps’ they’ll say. It’s over, Marlon.”
“But, dude, we’re black. I mean, we didn’t do nothing wrong. You weren’t all freaked out before, calm down again. You’re messing me all up and shit.”
“I was freaked out before! Man, but now I’ve read about this shit in London, man. I heard they’ve got facial scanners everywhere there, and if those don’t work there are microphones that will recognize our voices,” Tim revealed to Marlon something he’d never fully wondered about.
“We were in a dark alley in downtown L.A., the thuggest place on earth, I’m sure none of those were around,” Marlon said.
“I am positive there are thugger places than Los Angeles, Marlon.” Tim said, the conversation changing, but keeping its intensity.
“I don’t know about that, Tim. Think about like Detroit and shit. There they’ve got houses for like $1. That’s pretty fucking thug if you asked me. Think about all that weed you can buy with that shit. That’s what I’m talkin’ about, yo.”
For upwards of a minute neither spoke to each other. They rifled through paperwork—mostly fines and tickets issued for illegal parking and the occasional skateboarders attempting, as quick as they could so as to not be caught, the 13-step leading up to the Seraville Clubhouse. Sometimes, impressive groups attempted the obstacle. In fact, Marlon and Tim pursued the criminal-kids based on their performance: those who landed, didn’t matter what trick, got off, while those who didn’t, didn’t get off—simple as that. They were lenient, but they did have monthly quotas to meet. Fickle and familiar emotions rushed through them, and all it took was that solitary minute for them to switch from their routine.
“Ah shit, Tim—now I am all paranoid. God dammit! What if they got our faces on video! They’re gonna come get us at work and then Avery is gonna flip and fire us.”
“Dude, I’m convinced nobody saw us,” Tim now played the calm one.
“I don’t know man, I’m sure if that lady cop is murdering people, she’s got spies or something.”
“Then where in the world were they when we high-tailed it outta there?”
“Naw dude, they woulda knocked us off.”
“You know what?” Marlon had had it. “Fuck this. I am sick and tired of being scared by a bunch of pansies in black executioner uniforms—by the SWAT teams and the MP’s, oh my. I don’t care what Hollywood says, yo.” He threw his hand in front of him. “Why don’t we help that brother out. That cop was just trippin’ on power, why don’t we do something honorable and courage-full for once?”
“You mean courageous?” Tim interrupted to correct.
“Man, what’s the difference? Why you got to stick to proper grammar and stuff? Language was meant to be constantly reformed—you know, created? Like rap.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve made your point. So what are we going to do for our murdered homie? We ain’t got the murderer on camera or nothing.”
“Why don’t we just go down to the station and describe her?”
“Man, that is some stupid shit coming from you again. Not a chance. They wouldn’t believe us, not in a million years. Hell, we’d probably just get suck with the charges. We got our registration in our melanin, Marlon.”