Plugs

It started with An American in Paris, that Gene Kelly movie. My dead mother, who had never left Des Moines in her life, was in the café scenes watching Gene and singing along to “S’Wonderful”. She loved that film.

Good for her, I say. And good for Kellie Manx, my high school sweetheart, for appearing in the books of Mark and John in the Bible. She’s the one walking on the water with Jesus, instead of Peter. Somehow I always thought she’d be the sort to do that.

Constantin Dinescu, a fellow clerk at the law firm where I work, got run over last week and wound up in an old Woody Guthrie song. I don’t really know if it’s appropriate or not; we didn’t talk that much.

Hold on a minute. I guess that means Kellie’s probably dead. Bummer.

I’ve asked around, and nobody else is noticing their dead relatives and friends showing up in books or movies or songs or whatever. They look at me kind of weird when I ask, too, like maybe I’ve been smoking the wrong stuff.

I’ve been trying to figure out if there’s a way to make a buck at this. My first plan was to bet a guy in a bar that my mom was a film star, then show her the movie. But she’s only in that one movie, so far as I can tell, and it isn’t that big a part, and I probably wouldn’t win much that way anyway.

My second plan was to sell the rights, kind of like insurance, I guess. I went to Trevor, my best bud, and said that for a c-note I’d stick him into Spider-Man comics. At first he thought I’d got a writing gig, but when I explained it to him he just laughed.

I don’t have a third plan yet. I’m still working on it. Don’t invite me to any horror movies, though. My dog died recently and I really don’t want to see him in one.

Something was trying to crawl out of the pool. Cele turned on the light. The carpet was wet all the way to the couch. A lobefin squeezed its eyes shut against the glare, then opened them again and dragged itself past the TV towards her.

“Urrk,” it croaked, and pushed up on its forelimbs. A low wave ran up behind it from the dark, quiet sea that had replaced the wall. The wave ran under the couch, and presumably was soaked up by the remaining dry part of the carpet.

“Tim,” Cele called over her shoulder, “Fish!”

Her husband came in from the kitchen. “Kelly’s pool’s a bit full. I’ll drive ‘em down to the river in the morning.”

“I think they taste good.”

“Cook ‘em then.” But Tim was such a good cook anything she made would be a disappointment. She sighed.

“Tell you what. In the morning I’ll drop them off at St. Mark’s, instead. They can cook some coelacanth steaks for the clients and it won’t go to waste.”

Cele smiled and got to her feet. “You are so good to me! I don’t deserve it.” She patted him as he staggered by with the lobefin in his arms.

In the shower she had to shut her eyes. Sunlight shone in from where the ceiling used to be with blinding intensity. Her thoughts drifted to Tim. Immersed in an erotic daydream, Cele took a while to realize she wasn’t imagining her body shaking. Her eyes shot open. The shower stall shook to a heavy beat. It reminded her of that scene in “Jurassic Park;” with the ponderous but swift footsteps of an approaching tyrannosaur. She looked up.

–.

Tim dashed up the stairs. Cele was standing in the hall, shrieking and trembling. He encircled her with his arms and stroked her, making calming noises. Eventually he got her to tell him what was wrong.

“You’re shivering,” he said. “Go put something on. I’ll check the shower.” He opened the bathroom door and strode inside. A few moments later he came back out. “I don’t see any…. Cele?”

A wet area on the carpet marked where she had stood. He hunted all through the apartment and found no more trace of her than that. Unless you count a two-inch placoderm, flopping on the bedroom floor in front of her open closet.

End

Jordan watched the glass disk in the street very carefully. He was pretty sure it had not been there a couple of minutes before, and he was also sure that he hadn’t looked away from the pavement.

Finally he nudged it with a dirty sneaker. It looked awfully thin, and he was afraid to break it, but when he touched it with the edge of his shoe, it didn’t seem to budge. He squatted down and looked into it. It wasn’t glass like a windowpane. It looked more like that piece of volcanic glass that Mrs. Gubner had brought to school, except bluish, and with weird spots in it, that swirled and rippled even though he couldn’t see them move. He just knew they did.

After a while he remembered that he had to go to school, and realized that he was looking up at the houses along the street with great relief—they are still here, they aren’t rotted away and gone like in a time travel movie, came the thought. So he walked over to his skateboard and his backpack and kept going.

After a minute or two the glass disk rose as if someone underneath it were opening a hatch, which was pretty much the case; a man and a woman emerged, wearing orange business suits.

“Well, that was close,” said the man. The woman examined the street.

“Still using asphalt. We should go forward about a century,” she announced.

“You know best,” said the man, and they lifted the glass disk and climbed under it again.

A house finch swooping down to look at the shiny thing was rather startled to find it gone at swoop’s bottom.

Angela Slatter

Archive for the ‘Daniel Braum’ Category

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Friday, May 2nd, 2014

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