Archive for the ‘Rudi Dornemann’ Category
The Infinite Train
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
It had started four years before Luna was born, and never slowed or gave any sign of ending.
No one could say for sure that the train was infinite. It just kept going by and going by: appearing from empty space under a highway overpass outside Montreal– tracing three-quarters of a circle through Canada, US, and Mexico–disappearing behind the governor’s palace in San Luis Potosí.
For Luna, growing up just blocks from its route, the train rumbled behind her parents’ every shouted conversation, vibrated in her chest when she stayed in her room to draw, blocked her eyes with a horizon-wide wall when she went out.
As a teenager, when she did venture out, it was often into the no-go zone beside the tracks. A few months, and parties in basements of abandoned houses grew routine. She found herself joining the trainspotters she’d once mocked, standing, staring for hours at the cars as they shimmered by. No shouting past the rumble here. The vibration might have replaced her heart.
She started painting, not quite the tagging some of her classmates did on buildings and ordinary trains. She’d never see her designs standing still; she just sprayed swoops and waves on the passing cars. Dots, she discovered, turned to dashes, so she mastered them, flurried them out among the long arcs of her hypnotic cursive, in each hand, a can, a staccato stuttering hiss of propellant. Quick. Flashes. Color. Motion.
One night, she fell out of her painting trance, box of empty cans beside her, rainbow haze retreating after the train on the wind of its passing. She hauled her cans home. Her mother had finally gone, and her leaving blocked her father’s sight to any horizon but the most immediate. Luna heard his words as a broken rumble, but her heart held true to its own vibration. Attuned to speed, she saw the dishes he smashed as dots rather than dashes, and dodged the fragments with trance-practiced fluidity. When he collapsed in a corner, he seemed too still for her eyes to focus on.
In the kitchen doorway, she woke again, as if from another trance. Part of her was traveling away, lines shaped from her movements crossing the continent and slipping out of the world. Another part of her stood still while everything moved as relentlessly as the train, designs rushing past that she’d never really see.
The Wind’s Road
Monday, March 14th, 2011
Ollie released the rope, quadruple-somersaulted, caught it again inches from the end. Let go with one hand and felt the crowd’s roar as an updraft. With it, the smell, even up here, of the midway’s frying oil.
A jerk to pull himself along the line and he let go, then caught it in his teeth. He couldn’t hold the pose as long as usual– the balloonsuit was overfilled, and Ollie felt the strain in his molars.
The spotlight swung to Marnie and Del, holding each other by the ankles, sliding cartwheeling up a pair of ropes. Ollie heard the showmaster’s patter–“No nets! No harness holding them back from the deep, deep sky!”–as he hauled himself downrope.
Marnie tossed her line away as Del grabbed her ankles, and began orbiting her while she revolved. Ollie readied, leapt/floated to catch her arms.
Head down, he saw her grasp after him, and his heart contracted to a knot at the sight of her shoe, loose in Del’s hand.
Shrieks from the crowd. Clowns suddenly serious fired grappling hooks from stashed blunderbusses. He heard a hook slide across the back of his suit, didn’t feel it catch. Too long upside-down, he saw his pulse at the edges of his vision; but couldn’t take his eyes from the retreating ground.
A grapple had caught Marnie, but, when the clowns rushed to tow her down, it had torn all the quilted compartments on the suit-front. She lay in the ring, leg at a bad angle.
No one looked at Ollie. He waved and rose, drifted. Tents, then trees cut off his view. The accident might kill him but it voided the terms of his indenture.
An old air-soldier who’d roustabouted years back had told stories of free-fly missions. Gain height. Find the knife.
Their balloonsuits were military surplus–cloudy blue camouflage showed where painted-on gaudy had cracked. The knife was where it should be–left shoulder, slightly behind. One-inch blade; big loop handle.
Houses were matchbooks and the circus a distant crumple before he was nerved-up enough. Small holes: slow fall, the soldier had said.
The first was a hissing pinprick; the second, a larger than intended slit. He sank fast while that compartment emptied. Then careful cuts, a gradual descent over hours.
Treetop high in the twilight, he coasted above a country avenue, free to see where the wind would take him.