Friday, September 17, 2010

death by light

I followed him as best as I could, both of us staggering between cement blocks, concrete pillars, steel girders, in the sunken city deep into the night. He stopped to make a beautiful golden arc of projected vomit before lurching forward again. I said wait. He said I need water.

Black cut outs of disapproving men and women passed us by. Revelry was a protestant affair and meant to be done in carefully measured stitches. I looked profoundly into the night sky and watched a river of stars rage, twisting and bubbling, falling and flashing across the urban glass and metal human decorations that adorned the bottom of the landscape. I need water, he repeated. I looked up again and saw the stars were gone. There were fleets of aircraft hovering high above us and they were dropping gigantic dynamite sticks wrapped up in candy cane ribbons. I looked closer as they tumbled towards us and realized that they were not dynamite sticks at all but christmas lights. Christmas lights! Pretty red and green and blue bulbs with the twirl of plastic green cables flailing down to the ground. We ran for cover, finding an apartment complex we stumbled in.

We knocked on various doors and one of them opened and the strangers inside let us in. It's raining christmas lights. Yes yes please, we need some water. There were kids. They were up and jumping around. Christmas lights! Christmas lights! Yes. Can we please use your bathroom? Of course, follow me. This way.

He was already in the tub, steaming water blasting from the nozzle. I don't like it one bit he said looking at the reflexion of lights streaming down the wall from the falling christmas lights through the window. I was sitting on the toilet peeing.

We heard the balcony door open in the next room, the children wild with delight were retrieving the fallen christmas lights that lay over the rail. We heard one of them cough and then the other and soon they couldn't help themselves they were heaving wretched scraping dryness from their throats.

Something had hit them and they couldn't rid it from down their throats. The christmas lights. The adults in the next room began to cough. It was an unwieldy range of mucusy dislodging of phlegm to the final sordid struggle of air. The lights were making the people cough to death. We now heard the agonizing sounds from the street below. He started to get out of the tub angry, agitated, aggressive, his eyes following the falling of lights. What were any of us to do? Fight the christmas lights? They were all around us. There were a billion more up in the sky. Falling in cascades of colour. The doors have already been open. There was nowhere to go. I told him no, let's stay. Let's stay here. We have each other. I got up from the toilet, flicked my pants from my ankles and used them to stuff the crack between the bathroom door and floor. I added a couple of towels and then with my shirt on I got into the tub behind him. We're gonna be ok I said . We're gonna be ok. Burying his face between the tops of his thighs as he held his knees together with his arms, I held him from behind my face ensconced between his back and my arm. As the steam hung in levitation, enshrining our bodies, we waited. From the coughing and choking in the room beside us we waited. We waited. Between the retching and hawking and convulsing from the streets below we waited. We waited.

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