It was a bright Tuesday morning, and the city’s dense, forest-like clusters of residential towers were stirring to life like immense ant hills in the hot rays of the sun. Down on the streets, the waves of commuters came pouring out of the towers to converge on the massive Ninth Gen Maglev Station at the base of the main transportation bridge.
Sometimes you just want to try something new.
Last week I embarked on a project – growing a beard – and tonight, instead of trimming the Christmas tree I never bought, I trimmed my new beard. The electric clipper vibrated too close to my ear, drew blood, and snagged a chunk of my hair. So tonight I also shaved my whole head. It’s fine. Waiting to go bald is exhausting. Now bristly black stubble covers my head and I resemble a mugshot on the news.
The room is empty. The oak floorboards have a dull shine, the finish spoiled by dusty foot prints and the sad circular stains of glasses consumed. A yet to be attended to feel. The wisps of laughter hang in the air. She was alone.
The river here heaves up on the bank like an old man getting into bed.
Birds cry downstream. A gull perfects a theft, executes drastic turn in air that could break bones. I do my duty walks like perimeter guard, shoulder walking cudgel the way I carried my carbine back there at 23, know the pound of it to an ounce; knowledge of the scabbard hangs on.
I’d rather the river and the tired water’s run as 86 years weigh a heavy canteen. Nothing is like a river’s to and fro against this sea, tide-wash, catch of kelp, air sting full of briny sea’s salad smells, perpetual anger, always earth-dig, sand-flush and rock-wear, drag on the moon, where a ship’s ghost and canvas call.
A story about life extension
Wanaka on a September day, the sun is shining and its fifteen degrees Celsius. The ski season is over in this resort town, but the mountains surrounding Lake Wanaka still have a good covering of snow. The lake itself is of a bright blue seen in New Zealand’s South Island. The brilliance of the colour depends on the minerals present. Outside the town, near the pepply lakefront or up in the lower reaches of the mountains, are a number of architectural oddities. Dream houses of billionaires with vision but sometimes lacking architectural good taste. Squashed domes and rhombohedrons are favourite shapes, many of these houses are now abandoned. Unlike like a lot of the planet, the population here has never been high, no squatters have moved in to enjoy faded luxury. Foreigners, mainly Americans, have been building bunkers here for sixty years – but in the last five people have actually started to live in them. Unamused locals have observed the long preparation for the apocalypse has finally caused it to happen. Some of the wealthy, unable to let go of their mansions, have built bunkers right underneath them… Peter, a longtime resident of Wanaka, is one of these.
The sun fell sideways through windows of his home looking on the river, silence an absolute enemy, his mind suddenly clearer than ever, 79-year old Guillaume Gee Gee Poupon threw down his cane and screamed from the head of the stairs: I’m tired of leaning. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of this goddamn house holding me like a briefcase. I’m out of here. He cursed in a deep Acadian voice and the sounds brought a smile on his face. Blood pumped in his chest, being known; cavalier, he thought, Vesuvian, oh that once I had been so young.
In the quiet darkness, well past midnight, where we had been drinking for about three hours with modulated care (if you can believe it) beside someone’s massive pool in the Poconos, the narrow beam cast by a flashlight came with an alarming start down the barrel of a sawed-off rifle bound to spread pain, sac pain, heart pain, knee cap pain. The rifle and the projected flash were steady, likely in the hands of a confident man beyond rifle-range tough, the heavy voice not asking but demanding an answer: “Who the hell are you guys? Speak up quickly, one of you, before this popper gets away from me. I’m not the best shot in the world.” The qualification he added in a mimicking tone said it better than any hard-line threat: ” but I don’t have to be.”
Olivia squeezed the handle of her wheelchair so hard the veins stood out on her bony wrists.
Early evening light, what was left of it, spilled near Jack Wilkens in his one lone room in the big house, a house once flaunting and imposing in its stance, now cluttered like an old shed forgotten in a back lot, debris its main décor. Despite his reputation as the town drunk, a ne’er-do-well from the first day, an inveterate crank, there had been an instant and subtle attraction between me and the old codger, an attraction without early explanation.
Armand Tollbar remembered everything Clara said, on and off the pillow, in the bedroom and out of it. These days that had become a tough assignment for him, for while the memories were rich and repetitive, he now knew, deep down in his body, without a paucity of doubt, that the river was getting polluted. For the two of them there had always been a minor division: she loved the house, he loved the river.