The sun. Distinct. There is only one. It let bright down for the afternoon and went about the world there. Reflections in the lot. Modernity means many things to many people, but it perhaps means ‘cars,’ or ‘the automobile.’ Hundreds nestled under the star between smart yellow demarcation lines. There is nothing in the sky. Not even indifferent cumulus. The light threatens to burn but never does. Not there. But something else burns. Caustic. It’s a fire without fire. There are four men. One is on the asphalt at the beginning of the lot. One is on top of the first. The two others watch. The man on deliberately and methodically bounces the head of the bottom man. He cracks it on the pavement. This is an argument gone south. A conflict over a woman. The small red stream trickles down the cement. Color where there is not supposed to be color. People walk past and nobody does anything. They go to their cars, to their vehicles. They are moderns.
QUARTERAGE AND SNOW
Pills. Sometimes they can be crushed up and sniffed. Whatever the substance, the fastest route to the bloodstream is best. There, in the night, by the cold and north of cities, there are groups and sub-groups. Some fences run around the land and the snow wafts itself down from nowhere. Odd how it comes and kisses the world. The posts, the rooftops flaxen by day and darkened in the moon’s time. The shoulders and hair of the men of the quarterage. And the fences. It’s a song the snow sings across electric lights but the world is too far gone to hear its chords, its message of peace. Instead there is vexation. A dispute has escalated. Two are arguing over pills and when they should have been done- now or later. A third comes and someone turns around quickly. Blade. In fact, it’s a carpenter’s knife. It cuts open the third man. Shock. Reeling. Then another is cut. And two more. Prowess in the movements- sure and curt and quick. Beyond, not thirty feet, the snow continues sideways and down across the small makeshift night-sun, an electric light. Sideways and down.
The first house was near a park. The second house was just the second house. It was the third house that marked the beginning of the ravine. Storm water gathered itself from the grates on neighboring streets. Making its descent and assisted by gravity it traversed through a series of tunnels and pushed between ten foot tall cement forms. These gray forms blended with the gray skies- (always gray skies there for the sun was a given to truancy)- and so nothing was really juxtaposed, foiled. The boy walked to a tree a hundred yards from this water. He affixed a yellow work rope to a strong enough branch and then tied a knot round his neck. It was a week before Christmas and he looked briefly up to the skies that could be seen through the branches. He changed his vision from the sky to the branch and gave a strong pull to check again the strength. Standing on a lower branch, he pushed off and hanged himself. Nobody saw the act, and nothing was known for days.
CLINIC AND CLOUD
Scrape. That is what the woman called it. After the building she wore blue dresses with a floral print and a scarf to match. She was not for or against God, and did not think of any such things. The woman was not in danger, and said the sometimes she had to go get scraped. Nothing she did was against a law, but her talk seemed casual indeed. The woman looked imperious and in life walked with a near perfect posture. Going and going some folks can zoom in silver cars. Going and going, some soul can fly across faraway loams. What is nothing to one could be something to another. One time, a long way before, a boy fell from a wagon on a cement hill and scraped the skin below his knee. Blood and blood. Red liquid came in the mid-day below cloud cover whilst the sun hid itself away in a secret sky compartment. Is there something sagacious about the clouds? Have they seen the floral dresses, the souls by the loams, or the young boy’s knee? And can they help wounded dresses or to dress wounds?
WINDOWS AND PALM LEAVES
It was a loose-knit group. They had been stealing motorcycles for a year. They had a van and a truck. The van followed the truck but sometimes the truck followed the van. When they saw something to steal, the truck was parked and opened and the motorcycle was wheeled or carried up a ramp to the box part. Sub-tropics. Anole country. Large vacant lots. Locals deeply tanned, – years of sun inside the pigments. Is there something aged about even the young there? Are some people, for the karma of a place, a rough county and beachside, older than their years? That was the impression that was always gotten. Maybe one day we will grow up into our
criminal selves, says one spirit to another. Maybe there is prescience in the palm leaves, a knowing in a beautiful place about hard times to come. One afternoon a group of police surrounded the van and walked towards it. Two men inside, behind completely tinted black windows, loaded guns and prepared. They opened the doors and let out fire. Shots and shots and shots. It wasn’t far from the palm leaf places. It wasn’t far from the sounds of oceans blue. It wasn’t far from the birds that once alighted on the sandbanks and then rose again and tried to fly to the sun.
Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian writer (more of a poet) and has a book of short fictions published with Fowl Pox Press (2013) called Chalk Lines. He has written over one thousand vignettes and some other works also, but work mostly with short forms. He recently took up landscape photography (as an amateur).