LP: Heart and Soul by Joy Division
2004 Fractured Music FAC 204, bootleg
Favorite Track: Digital
The city of Random had never experienced winter before. There was no slow creeping of ice around Lake Lotus, no inches of snow steadily accumulating on the sidewalks and the roofs of cars, no consistent drops in temperature. The citizens of Random went to be that Sunday night preoccupied by the coming work week, smug and in love, or exhausted from an eventful week. The forecast was typical for Random–bright and sunny. Curiously, although how the narrator of this tale knows speaks volumes about my ability to obtain obscure information, no body was awake when the Great Freeze happened, a curious first time in Random’s history that there was never at least one person awake during every minute of the night.
Philosophers conclude that the Great Freeze happened because of a collective dream, a subconscious desire to feel cold. The narrator feels the necessity to point out that the majority of Random citizens believe turtle tea to be an excellent restorative.
Trevor woke up shivering. The morning fog inside his brain prevented his thoughts from lingering on anything more than “make tea” and “put on clothes.” The shades were down over the windows and his apartment was darker than normal. Rain, he thought gloomily sipping his turtle tea and doodling on the crossword instead of answering. He couldn’t finish his charcoal landscape now. Trevor looked toward the bedroom door where the canvas laid half-finished. For the better, he sighed, Lake Lotus is just too bland. No singular ash trees sticking out strangely in the distance, the water always still and never choppy, and the fish all a muddy brown with small dorsal fins. Trevor wanted something extraordinary to capture on his canvases–something no body has every seen before.
After donning his New Order shirt, black jeans, a pair of dress shoes, and his fedora, Trevor grabbed a sketch pad and a couple of pencils. He opened the front door, paused. The air was crisp brushing against his exposed skin like an icy caress. Sunlight blinded him but coming eerily from the ground. His breath came out of his mouth like a cloud of smoke. Trevor shivered again, lost in the dazzling white he had never seen before. First, he started drawing the cobweb pattern of ice on the window of the apartment across from him. Then he expanded into the snow drifts against the coffee-colored bricks. At last, he pulled all the way back to imagine a bird’s eye view of his neighbor. He even mounted the fire escape and climbed to the roof of his building to gain a better perspective. Never had Random looked as inexplicable as of today.
Bailey woke up because she needed to pee. While washing her hands, she realized that Michael was gone. It took her three times to get the buttons right on her shirt. Her turtle tea tasted like fat. The bills were due soon and her bank account was two hundred short. Today was one of those days she wished she didn’t have to leave bed. In her dreams, she fought dragons alongside Torfi Vigfusson, her battle axe biting deep into the crimson scales while fire breathed over her wild hair that glowed from magical protection. Life as a literary agent had its awards, but was more dull than people would have expected. Authors were fantastic on the page, but in real life they were dreadfully normal.
Bailey pulled a manuscript out of her bag and started to read and mark the mistakes. It was her own. Something one night dawned on her that she would never read exactly what she wanted to read in another person’s manuscript. She was going to have to do it on her own. And she had learned a lifetime of tips simply by being in position of getting to read manuscripts at various stages of completion. She begun with a burst of superb creativity, spitting out fifteen hundred words within a week. Then she hit her first roadblock: she had no idea how to force her two protagonists to meet each other without it sounding flimsy or conventional. They were on two different planets. They had two different jobs that wouldn’t intersect with each other: one was a bootlegging treasure hunter; the other was a Martian carpet cleaner. Bailey put down her marker and stared out the window.
Something was wrong with it. A strange white sand had piled against the glass obscuring her view of the golden salad bowl that was the art museum. She hammered on the glass. It was shockingly frigid. Bailey noticed then that her legs had broken out in gooseflesh. She layered herself in a knit sweater and a pair of stretchy pants she found most comfortable albeit curve-clingy. It was a little before noon when she was done pouring herself some more turtle tea to take with her to the office. The door, however, would not open. Bailey wondered if the crystal sand was blocking her way. She tried with all her might but the door refused to open. Why the landlord installed a door that opened the wrong way she never did understand.
Bailey called the office but the phone lines were down. “What the hell is going on?” she said out loud. She realized she liked to hear her own voice in moments of doubt. Did she get it from her mother or father? Who spoke more to themselves when she was a wee child in that large lake house?
“I can see my breath,” she said. Was she dying? She really did not feel like expiring in this crappy apartment of hers. Her dumb landlord would probably think that typical of her too, the jerk.
She had a rear door that lead into the apartment complex. Most of everybody, half dressed for work, half still in the pajamas, gadded about murmuring about their stupid doors and how they couldn’t be late today, it being such an important date. Bailey saw her friend Lily and ran over to her.
“What is going on?”
“I don’t know,” Lily had large blue eyes that when her face made certain expressions looked like they might need to be pushed back into their sockets. “I’m scared Bailey. The end of the world is upon us.”
“I don’t think it is that bad, Lil. We just need to find an alternate way out of here. Being stuck inside our apartments is going to do no one any good.”
“There is the roof…”
Bailey snapped her fingers and then wondered why she did not. The narrator just wants to point out that Random citizens love to snap their fingers instead of ejaculating silly phrases such as “aha!” or “by my tickled pink elephant toes!” Bailey mounted the fire escape steps two at a time. The trapdoor opened with some difficulty. Bailey’s shoulder smarted a bit as a gust of stinging air assailed her. She climbed up the ladder, her hands squishing into something wet and soft. All around her was the white crystals, brighter now with the sun reflecting on them. Her breath caught in her throat.
All of Random was buried. No body would be working today, however, she suddenly found that this wasn’t as distressing as she previously assumed. There was something magical in it. Like her short story. And an idea formed.
And she saw another man standing on his roof, drawing intently into a sketch pad. Bailey ran to get her typewriter.
Old Man Porkbelly got up and farted. Just another lame duck day with twenty-four hours to chew away with turtle tea.