He lived in a city that doesn’t exist. Substantive trash—tractor tires, the skeleton of a yesteryear truck—was planted in the frontyards, and he liked it. The sci-fi-green plastic cups that came free with the copyrighted 1,000-calorie alcoholic drink enjoyed by visiting conference-goers and bachelor party attendees traced arcs on pavement 20 miles from place of sale. A subtle bar buzzed at the end of every street, unclear to even its owners whether it was closed or open. There, men hunched over beers—empty now, now full—like great mountains borne above tributaries. They had seen it done so on TV. Women, too. Screaming into each other’s concert-worn ears, or smoking like the occupation it used to be.
He rolled down boulevards of shotgun houses. Inside, America was throbbing, dinner on the table, back from war, hanging the laundry from the line, momma he proposed, out with the boys, turn on the teevee, I just don’t know we can afford this, darlin get me a beer, will someone answer the phone, tough day at work, not in this house, Honey Just Allow Me Once More Chance, I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now).
Nights when the sky was only pretending to sleep, its blurry backlit purple as bright in its way as a baby blue day, he parked and walked through the miniature streets. Overgrown greenery formed a constant canopy above him. The asphalt was spongy underneath his step. He could rip it if he wanted to and journey to the center of the earth. Everything was wet and changeable. Please, Please, Don’t Make Me Stop Now.
Lucy Biederman lives in Cleveland, where she is a lecturer in English at Case Western Reserve University. Her first book, The Walmart Book of the Dead, won the Vine Leaves Press Vignette Award and will be published in December 2017.