By Alfonso Colasuonno
Mack Quinn’s feet kept moving, but his mind had become lost in reverie. His attention was drawn upwards, beyond the limits of the terrestrial plane. "I don't see them today."
Annie Pappas, Mack’s downstairs neighbor and longtime companion, rolled her eyes. Her lips were downturned. “Christ. Again with the chemtrails?”
Mack’s normally even voice ascended slightly in timbre. "It’s true, Annie. I saw a video on YouTube that--"
Annie scoffed. "Stop it, Mack. Do you know how much of an idiot you sound like right now?"
“But I don’t see them ever go away. They just stay there.” Mack’s voice trailed off.
"The gods broke the mold."
Mack continued gazing upwards. He had cocked his head all the way back, oblivious to anything transpiring in any realm below the heavens. His tall, lumbering frame repeatedly tripped over the hilly pavement as he stared at the sky, waiting for the first signs of lingering jet exhaust from above.
Around the corner from the rather unsightly (yet quite affordable) diner where they dined every afternoon, by the lonesome Victorian nestled incongruously between a Guatemalan grocery store and a Chinese bakery, Mack noticed a black, box-like object that appeared to materialize in the air. “Annie, you should take a look.” Mack’s head remained tilted in comic fashion. His eyes became saucers. His forward motion abruptly halted. Annie’s advance stopped a few feet in front of Mack. They remained in place.
"Christ. What the--” Annie noticed the small black box in odd juxtaposition with the otherwise abnormally clear sky.
Mack pointed upwards. “I saw one before. Remember when Joey drove us to Tenafly to see your mother? I remember seeing one out by the Verrazano. We all saw that one.”
"That was a spotlight." The typical verve in Annie’s voice had gone mute.
Mack’s finger was still locked on the object. "This isn't a spotlight."
"Christ. I know it's not a spotlight. I just want to know what the hell that is up there.”
Mack glanced at Annie, and then continued examining the black box in the sky. "It's just staying there." His voice was preternaturally calm.
An elderly man observed them from the front window of the Victorian. Mack and Annie remained staring upwards, mouths agape, as the elderly man stepped onto his front porch. “Hello.” His English was heavily accented.
Even as he turned his attention away from the black box, Mack’s mouth remained twisted in a dumb open grin. Annie’s eyes had transformed, becoming fire. "Look at that up in the sky." Her words were spoken as a direct challenge.
The elderly man joined them on the sidewalk. He observed the firmament. There was nothing unusual in the heavens. He scratched at his thinning crown. "Am I not seeing something?"
Annie’s heart thumped. "Why are you lying to us? It's up there, all right. It’s gone now, but...Shit. It just came back. It just, goddamn it, it just disappeared and then reappeared. Now it’s looping around in circles. Don’t you see it? Can’t old Russians see?"
The elderly man remained impassive. "I’m from Ukraine, miss.” He walked back to his doorway. “I guess I can’t see what you see.” The man smiled bemusedly at the couple.
Synchronized at the exact moment that the elderly man returned inside his home, a young mother looped around the pair at a rapid pace. She carried a bag from a gourmet supermarket with one hand and pushed the stroller with her other hand. Mack and Annie didn’t notice her good-natured smile as she passed them by. Their attention remained fixed on the sight.
"It’s still there. It isn’t moving." Mack deadpanned.
Annie’s face had turned pallid. She darted towards the mother. Her speech sped up like a record played at the wrong speed. "Don’t you see it? Don’t you see that UFO up there in the sky moving around?” She shook a finger at Mack, off in the distance. “He was right. It's the end for all of us. A UFO. Christ."
The mother’s face turned alabaster. Her bag fell to the ground, scattering an assortment of vegetables and fruit along the sidewalk. She headed down the street, past the Guatemalan grocery store, in a mad dash, her baby clasped tightly against her breast. Her free hand remained pushing the stroller, which zigzagged in all directions.
Mack sauntered over. The mother retreated into the distance. The elderly man never returned. The black box dissolved into the sky. "I know she saw it. She just didn’t understand me. She probably can’t speak English." Annie’s face was beatific, her tone placid, as she waited to be sucked into the aether.
- - -
Alfonso Colasuonno writes fiction and poetry. He maintains a daily blog and writer's resource called The Literary Game (theliterarygame.wordpress.com) designed to help aspiring writers build confidence and savvy. His work has appeared in many excellent literary journals.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
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