My gardener stopped showing up. Don’t know what happened. The yard overgrew, very quickly, and before I knew it I was the one out there fighting weeds and getting pricked by dead thistle. It’s miserable work, unless you’re out there early morning, or sundown, when the air’s cool.
You know, I wasn’t even looking at the yard until I had to take care of it. Walked by, every day, and took it for granted.
So I guess I appreciate having to get down on my hands and knees and sweat. Who knows if I would’ve ever noticed anything at all.
Hello? Is this where the funeral — Great, are you the lady of the cave? Hi. First off, my condolences, hunting is a dangerous business. So, I’m an artist. I did the bison mural in the Johnson’s cave – Oh good, you’ve seen it. Yeah, we can do one of those here on your archway, really big, I’m thinking yellow ochre all across — It was a pig? Tell you what, really big pig, over there, running your husband down, and his handprint here, right before he bled out. Gives the piece that personal touch. Sound good? Great! Now, about payment…
“Stop, stop,” he joked as he exited the lobby, surrounded by fans, all adoring him from behind phone screens. By the time he reached his taxi he realized he hadn’t made eye contact with a single person.
“Tell you what,” he declared. “Who wants to grab a burger and beer? First one to put their phone down.”
They bristled excitedly. He opened the cab door and ushered anyone to step inside.
They all kept filming.
“Come on. Anybody?” he asked, hopeful.
Suddenly, a young woman leapt in the cab. He followed, ecstatic, and wilted when her phone glowed white again.
In my car at an intersection and I hear clicking, clicking, clicking all around, like gathering animals preparing to pounce. In my periphery I see traffic lights wilting in the street. I’m dizzy. Drained. The lights drift towards a lone figure, waiting to cross, unaware.
They push him.
“You like that?” They say in that crosswalk voice. More clicking. “You like that?” They say, chirping. Pushing. He lands on my car. Then they see me. Electricity buzzes all around. The car fills with heat and pulsing lights.
The crosswalk was tired of getting pushed around. The crosswalk was pushing back.
Manners? There were none. The Internet was a bloody, sweat drenched barroom brawl. The Digital Decency Act changed all that. The anonymous threats, the bullying, the predatory behavior, all of that, gone. All inspired by a thesis on animals who, for whatever reason, could not “see” digital screens. Once the technology was developed, everything changed. An 8mm implant, and the Guilty – Those who took pleasure in toxicity. In causing pain. In division. In chaos. – They were rendered screenblind. Televisions, terminals, portable screens, all useless.
Oh, they could still enjoy a movie at the drive-in. They’re popping up everywhere.
We’re at an intersection. Mom’s observing the world from the passenger seat. I’m thinking about how small she looks. She points, and says, “We used to go to that coffee shop every Saturday night.”
I glance over as cars start moving. “There?” It’s a place I haven’t thought of in ages. Me and my friends used to hang out there. Sip Cokes. Draw. Play D&D until they kicked us out.
“On Saturdays your father and I would go dancing, and end up there,” she said, smiling, lost in thought.
I never knew that.
My folks were way cooler than me.
Taking care of last minute things before her arrival, and that’s when I get the call. It’s the conversation we’re going to have when she gets here, but it’s happening now, with me holding a dripping toilet brush.
What about the unspoken rule? Talking starts when you get here. Is there something vital I need to know now? Do I need briefing on key points? Is there a heroin addict barely holding on in your back seat and you’re racing to me because I have the adrenaline shot? No? Then we’ll talk when you get here.
*Hangs up toilet brush*