Town & Country Ch. VII: Cacophonous Hubbub from a Valley of Boxes
Of all the valley neighborhoods in L.A., Landon and Ana’s happened to be among the only nudged up against a hill high enough so as to overlook a yellow haze of city exactly so senescent as the brush dress below it, ornaments for the earth. While seated upon a rock on a cliff near their home, their sweet susurrations led air molecules to dance and make impressions, whilst the warmth of their thighs fed off itself, maturing through the friction between soft and shifting bodies.
They spoke of stuff, tiptoeing around the whole Truth as only humans could. Their unending conversation simmered always in the oven of time, and they knew fullwell that, existing somewhere, were parallel consequences and possibilities. And, as if a math equation inside made them aware of themselves, the two inched closer, barely noticing. From their temporal lobes out, the offing was ablaze with a sunset familiar to the landbase in this part of the country. The tips of their noses pointed towards the nearer points and their temples outwards to the margins. A crimson orange was strewn with the exhaust of planes, some spreading to become blankets dimming the earth and trapping in the heat.
A valley of boxes defined by the rigidity of right angles produced and consumed a nation of squares. So what if they were all the same? Ana sighed and looked at Landon. His stomach sank just a bit and he could taste the sincerity in her eyes and closed smile. That identical sincerity rested in him as well; and so therefore, a reciprocal bubble barnacled the lovers to a pier of eternal amity.
They felt at home with each other. Something about the southern California evening evoked in them a pensive contentment, perhaps the robin’s egg blue and honey yellow of the night falling from the universe’s fingertips, though neutral in nature, imbued in the sentient feelings older than words.
The cacophonous hubbub of the thoroughfares below, sharing time but seemingly disparately spaced, cast a rhythmic din over all things, all the time, like the unnoticed generator of all things droning. The two noticed, once more, the up-above, where flying from north to south, and vice versa, commercial jets appeared to bolt along the sky with poise—if only from afar—for illusory was the secure composure.
“Do you ever wonder how similar to these people we are?” Are our lives going to be made by the same mechanical feelings as theirs? By anger, fear, sadness, joy, surprise, disgust…” said Ana, referring to the drivers who, indeed, drove by feel. She hoped Landon could muster something positive. “Like, are they much different than us?”
“Of course I do—it is important to think about that or else it’s difficult to keep friends around. It’s so easy to misspeak. I don’t think they feel too different from us, anyhow. I do think, though, that because you and me do think and feel, we feel those emotions you mentioned, while the rest don’t. It seems so many are driven by baser emotions—like, they’re driven by ecstasy, terror and despair and little more. ”
“Yeah,” Ana paused for a quick beat, then continued, “but, you’re right—we think about different things, so it’s hard to keep much in common with anyone.”
“I guess. If one thing is for sure, the four year-olds have the right ideas.”
Ana smirked—“maybe we’re just strange and that’s why we don’t have any friends.”
“We have friends,” Landon protested. “We are pompous assholes, though—maybe nothing more.”
“We have friends, but not like Danny has friends.”
“Sure, Danny has friends, but he is also a little fried. The more people he knows, the fewer he realizes he forgets… I wanted to say—I think everyone means well. There are exceptions, of course, like Mayor Avery,” he answered soberly.
“But Avery is pretty disconnected,” Ana pointed out. “This guys got quite a lot of wealth and connections.”
“Yeah, and he is a psychopath.”
“No he isn’t…” Ana emptily argued.
“I don’t know—some of things this guy says in his speeches. They’re totally insane.”
“Yeah, well the people down below, the population or whatever…”
“You mean the Plato’s ‘its,’ the unwashed masses, the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders.” Landon interrupted.
“Don’t interrupt me,” Ana scolded.
“The ‘population’, in quotes, is mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, cousins. They are not just the population.”
“I agree,” said Landon.
“And most of them see the world as a coincidental and chaotic place, and so their anger is misdirected and confused. Thinking, or what we qualify as thinking, gets our neurons all tied up and twisted in bunches,” she said. “Well, not the four year olds. When I was a child my mom took me through a carwash—you know, one of those ones where you get to sit in the car—and I screamed and screamed and held onto her for dear life. She didn’t understand until many years later, when she sat through one again, and realized just how scary all those machines were!”
“I did the same thing with a shot,” Landon recounted. “I screamed and screamed until the nurse called in a plumber to hold me down. Come to think of it, I am sure the plumber knew exactly what I was protesting. That’s probably why he was a plumber. She was convinced I was going to bite her. I am pretty sure that I wasn’t going to bite her. In fact, I’d be more likely today to bite a doctor trying to give me a shot. The more you know, eh?”
“We think that only the older people are the teachers, and that children have little to teach us. We couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Ana said.
“I know, right?” Landon agreed. “By way of some rite of passage, be it video games or shooting each other up in south central, we sacrifice the logic of children for the logic of the real world, all the while knowing this newfangled common sense will keep us from ourselves.”
And that was where that conversation was forced into retirement. A return to the jib jabs of comfortable conversation was in order, and so they seceded from the philosophizing. In this moment both were happy.
“How is Danny?” Ana wanted to know.
“Oh, Danny is insane. But the mad ones are for me.”
“Are you saying I’m crazy?” Ana asked swiftly.
“Maybe.” With an answer like that, Landon took a chance.
Landon smirked and chuckled and peered off into the distance before returning the gaze. Ana had her scrunched eyes and nose locked onto him like a missile.
“He was explaining to me other day the Big One,” continued Landon. “He does this often—that is, explain the Big One—and it’s usually the same idea, always half-baked.”
“How often does he get stoned?”
“All the time he’s stoned! I already told you.”
“How silly. And he’s a member at Seraville? What does he own to have so much money?”
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure he knows what he owns. I know he’s never visited any of the factories. He thinks there are three, although he’s mentioned like five locations. I think its lumber. Maybe the whole thing is smokes and mirrors for what he really does.”
“Well, whatever it is he does, you should start working for him, I know he loves you.”
“I already do work for him. I am his caddy and waiter. He only comes in on the days I work.”
“How does he tip?”
“Not bad. Plus, he always buys me beer.”
The jet black of night had enveloped them, though the air was still so warm, there was no need for them to move or put on jackets. Landon looked at his cell phone for the time: 9:11 p.m. He hadn’t much to do the next day, nor did Anna, and so they sat and stayed awhile. Relatively speaking, they hadn’t known each other long—about a year or so—but that year had, for some, a lifetime of layers arranged into it. They held each other and drifted through their own minds.
Landon thought of the micro-chasm, where he worked. Continuously linking the past to the present to the future, the new measures were taken almost daily by the administrators of Seraville. Their latest scheme involved the vertical restructuring of what might be called a fledgling Seraville economy. From now on, the multi-echelons of Seraville would begin receiving goods and services based on their rank within the confines of the closed system of qualia and quanta that comprised the trite and trivial Seravillian universe.
The highest tiered Gold members now received first choice of tables at the club restaurant; so for example, on rambunctious Friday nights, when the second and third floors were sure to be jam packed with the more affluent Seravillelite, the lower echelons would, even early in the evening, be restricted to the first floor. In order to neutralize this injustice in leisure, those members designated as Green or Blue—the two lowest of echelons—enjoyed an extended happy hour; from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., instead of the usual 4 to 6. This appeased a great many. Others, on the other hand, wrote it off as theatre with an eye towards general appeasement. From its inauguration, moreover—although no official designation of who could shop where was decried—divisions were immediately visible in the supermall. For the third floor was home to high-end shops, whilst the cheaper goods resided on the first two floors and, additionally, the visitors who could once afford the cheaper stores grew fewer and farther between, as wealth receded like hairlines scalded by stress.
What’s more, shopping hours became divvied up between those who could afford a brief furlough from work, in order to shop, and so furloughed. After work hours was when the proles—excuse me, Blue and Green members—did their shopping. The filtering of the folks grew more definitive, and the freedom of medley became but a memory, executed by discord. Landon and Ana arrived home from their viewing rock and readied themselves for bed.