the storm is a'here. the streets are canals but not the touristy kind. tourist attractions slide into traps. cul-de-sacs are sacrificial ponds cultivating new bacteria. large puddles pop up inside mailboxes. roofs turn into living rooms. deluge is the new darkness. the city has become a town.
the Zard lifts his elbow level with his nonexistent bellybutton, his hand gripping the sword which has afforded him bold new powers. the tip of the blade sprays the night ant people below with an arch arch of seething foam mixed with black winds, blistering bullets of water, pellets of putrid punch pouncing on the tiles of roofs everywhere, shaking shingles to shatter. from his dank spot on the hill the destroyer god fumbles around with his new toy.
the Zard: this is so much better than my old wand. a curse is a blessing you know.
Mike Manley has switched to the blue Redhead Henley fishing shirt. but he's still getting witheringly soaked.
Mike: i never thought of water as a weapon till now. water is supposed to preserve life. this fishing shirt is shit.
the Zard: don't blame the manufacturer. the material is fine. blame me. you always do.
Mike: it's not really a fishing shirt, just a shirt with many pockets. how am i gonna explain this to Ari? it will crush her. she's, uh, pretty hardcore religious, y'know?
the Zard: oh i know.
the gushing line of midnight-blue stream joins in a swirl around the eye of the Category 6 hurricane. that's when Mike notices through the sky tears.
Mike: the eye is directly above Ari's house! i'd know that chimney stovepipe anywhere. we made love on top of it. my first anal. very painful.
the Zard: you are too obsessed with sex. you should be obsessed with nature.
Mike: you bastard! i'd curse you out but i'm deaf and my mouth is filled with wind. i don't know what to do. what's that over there? oh yeah the new barcade which propped up by the edge of the city. it still has time. gotta motor my legs over there and get some cover.
at the station the generator has gone out. the second generator, the backup generator.
Goody Paul: well it looks like we're off the books. the clock is dead. unearthly sigh. okay dear you can come out now.
the plain woman behind the camera sticks her eyes out and skittishes over to crawlingly hug Goody's elbow. she paws at his sweater.
Goody: you know i love you, honey. but i have a reputation to keep at work. everyone here is alpha as fuck.
woman: i'll never tell. kiss me, Paul, on the teeth.
Goody: *kiss* you complete me, babe. your weirdness cums all over my two shoes. you wash me. but we have enough washing outside. alright, Dammi, break out your witch candles.
Dammi takes two clumps of cold wax out her pockets and fashions twin candles intertwining and kissing at the wicks. she rubs her fingers together and a small spark hovers over the twi-candle providing light and heat.
Goody: *hugging her* you melt my heart, Dammi.
Dammi: you have no idea.
Goody: any liquids?
Dammi: besides you?
Goody: no guests to entertain us. no livestream. looks like we're gonna have to be content with old beta videotapes. tape delay is better than nothing.
Dammi: or we could read ancient tomes.
Goody: pop it in. i love these old setups with the tv on the second shelf held by belts and the VCR on the first shelf and the locked cabinet on wheels at the bottom with the always-missing key. you never found that key when you were at school.
Dammi: i never went to school. i learned from nature. you're using precious videotape to tape news? news?
Goody: let's see what we got here. never thought i'd see snow again. oh it's the meeting between Ivanka Trump and Justin Trudeau.
Dammi: that Trudeau is one slice of hot Canadian bacon. sizzling on the stove. best Justin since Timberlake.
Goody: please no talk of lakes. heh, yeah, that Ivanka wants a little strawberry sauce in her milk. sorry, my brain is hardwired now. need to stop hanging around Mike. is there such a thing as mixed-company locker-room talk?
Goody: cos the Canadian flag.
Dammi: you could have said maple syrup in that milk.
Goody: red at any rate.
Dammi: aged like my menstrual blood.
Goody: DAMMIT DAMMI, i was eating.
Dammi: yes you were.
Goody: so, uh, like what are you saying? YOU'RE PREGNANT AGAIN?
Dammi closes her eyes and just cackles.
Goody: dammit! we already got 5 kids! how did this happen? immaculate conception? i need to cool off......................cool down in the downtown..............dammit Dammi why are there frogs in the shower?
at the house the utter darkness is joined to a sinister howl. the walls shake rattle but don't roll, yet.
Arianna is doing her best to find a quiet moment in the madness. she can only find it on the pot. she spools the last of the toilet paper and despite no power for hours wipes her ass discreetly and ladylike under her butt while sitting down on the toilet per usual. the cats are mewing and scratching the door wanting to come in. she relents and squeezes the doorknob.
Arianna: come in, cats, it won't kill you to look. there is no privacy in society anymore.
Ari spends a precious minute silently stroking the cats' purring underchins.
her husband is feverishly working the yard out back. she can hear him from her window. she calls through the walls.
Ari: honey, you going okay?
husband: yes. the millet is minatory but the spelt is secure due to my secret location. planning beforehand is the key. storm's uprooted everything else.
Ari: come in, take a break. rest your eyes on some snowy tv.
husband: okay. be sure to store it all in mason jars. i am so tired.
Ari: cool off your face. splash some water on it. works better than coffee.
husband: neat trick.
Ari: no honey, the water in the spaghetti pot's still hot!!!
husband: nah, it cooled down already. thank you for caring. Caso Cerrado?
Ari: i need a laugh. i love this judge.
husband: *putting his arms around Ari* she's a lesbian you know. the most accomplished lesbian you'll ever know.
Ari laughs loudly for five minutes straight.
husband: is the taffy still on those battery-operated cooking stove burners?
there's a horrible hissing.
husband: OMG the cats!
the three children: no mommy, it's us! we burned our hands! we were fumbling around, we can't see!
Ari: for fuck sake take your hands away!
husband: the cats are smarter than that. the second they sense heat under their paws they jump out of the way. humans not so much, we're curious.
Ari: you just had to get three of those stupid stoves huh.
husband: if we didn't they'd fight over one.
Ari: we must pray for guidance. you get the pot and i'll get the water.
husband: switch that around and you've got a deal.
Ari laughs for twenty-five more minutes straight. her husband checks his watch. no scores.
husband: what time is it?
Ari hangs her teeth out of her plastic joker smile below her dilated pupils and arched eyebrows.
husband: i'm glad you can smile. but it's not gleeful anymore, Ari. it's more of a fit of laughter.
Mike storms into the barcade's sandalwood panel spray-painted in foursquare. and into yellow-and-black tape.
Mike raises his hands and declares: "INDOORS!!!"
the barcadekeep wears a snooty scowl and a T-shirt with three moons and two cute puppies underneath, one girl and one boy. he greets Mike by taking off his glassless glasses, chewing on the temples, and sliding under the bar.
barcadekeep: i shall frame the discussion thusly: GET THE FUCK OUT!!!!!!! I DON"T GOT A GUN! I'M FREAKING OUT OVER HERE!!!!!!!!!!!
Mike: calm down, man, we're safe here.
barcadekeep: you ain't the Feds? why you wearing a bulletproof vest?
Mike: i ain't no flatfoot but my feet are flat. haven't walked so much in my life. i at least take the bus. this is a Scottevest. i waver between wondering what i dislike more, being wet or being cold. i can't decide and my wardrobe is suffering. got any drink?
barcadekeep: i was pretending to be condemned. that's the only way to insure survival. i can still play the Pac-Man World arcade cabinet in the corner to stave off loneliness, it runs on a generator. but my potted spirits are off-limits. i don't know how long this will last. the beer is literally my piss. my Brooklyn brandy might be the only water i have for months.
Mike: goddammit, i need my strength. any food?
barcadekeep: i do have some special bread. it's magic and religious. and cold.
the barcadekeep takes Ezekiel 4:9 Brand bread out of his pocket freezer on the back glass.
Mike: wow. never heard of this brand. and why do you keep it frozen? frozen bread?
barcadekeep: cos it's so powerful it would burst into flame. have some. break off a piece.
Mike: *chewing, trying to chew* *finally spitting it out* *spit!* tastes like shit.
Mike spits the clump of raw sticky bread in the barcadekeep's face. Mike doesn't see what hits him next. before he knows it Mike is outside getting pelted with a sore nose.
Mike: i can't believe i got my ass kicked by a nerd with pipecleaner arms.
the barcadekeep steps out and throws a clear bag of sheepherder's bread in Mike's face.
Mike: i thought you hipsters were supposed to be cool.
barcadekeep: we're genial when we're not grouchy. here, perhaps this bread is more your speed. free for a price. you leave immediately and forget this place exists, deal?
Mike: *chewing with soft teeth* mmmmmmmm, this is good! it's chewy. it's sweet.
Mike's butt buzzes.
Goody: Mike, i need a friend. you're good with women. how's the weather up there?
Mike: very funny. not anymore, i just got beat up by a barcadekeep. i can take the hit but my rep can't. i'm following the hurricane now. tracking it tremendously. i got a name for it: Zard.
Goody: Zed, got it. hey.......who's this? i got another call, hold up, let me put you on hold.
Goody: Federer? what do you want?
Federer: who's this Bouchard who keeps shading my girl Maria?
Goody: she said she should be banned for life.
Federer: win a Slam first, until then keep yo mouth shut. it's Djoker and his impressions all over again. who's this b?
Goody: Eugenie. she has an army.
Federer: this means war!
Goody: i interviewed her once when she was just starting out. she wore those short shorts and was in front of me the whole time we walked and talked. i was still able to conduct the interview. i shoved my mic in her face, i was still learning, too. she said that she considers meeting you the greatest moment of her life.
Federer: i don't remember this. i don't recall this chickadee.
Goody: let me send her pic to you through my phone. the password is still "Roger Roger", right?
Federer: wow wow wowwie! genie, genie, let me rub your ass! okay, nevermind. i get one threesome a year thanks to my lenient wife. i love her so much. it's time to welcome Maria back to the tour properly. that first meeting after the ban between the two of them is gonna be so awkward. cos Genie and Maria are gonna meet on my bed, with me in between the two beauties. we'll take off our Wimbledon robes in unison. competing on me to see who's the babe of the tour. i get to decide cos i'm number one in the world. and i stick out my number-one-in-the-world. a king needs his queens. hatefucks are so hot!
Goody: it's always the quiet ones. Mike, you still there?
Mike has turned around and spotted a glint in the moist fog. he tries to stand upright but can't, his ankles are shot. he slithers like a salamander down the nearest embankment and roughly tumbles to his side. he picks the sprouts from the mud and places them in his sandwich. he is grateful for the soft dirt on his knees and doesn't want to move from the soothe. but a whir cuts through the lull in the eyewall. Mike slides to the outcropping and sees the newsvan, on its side, still humming, the front wheelless axis sadly rotating bare. a firework shoots out the back. Mike sees the exhaust pipe still strumming with energy.
Mike: let's hope that was enough nourishment.
Mike swings his arm around and notices his muscles thinning and droopy. with all his might he clutches the shaft of the pipe and tries to screw it apart. he wrenches the thing up, then down, then all around, hoping to reach a breakpoint and snap off.
Mike: come on, rain, work your magic!
he crawls to the driver's side. Jackie is still in her seat. her eyes are closed and her hair is in her mouth.
Mike: ...but...i see you, boo. Jackie my love, you are so peaceful. you're looking at me with your eyes closed. i see your right hand now.......hahahaha! it's not on the stick like you'd think. it's.....at your lips.....you're blowing a kiss to me!
Mike gently removes the door, slides the seat level to make a bed, removes the seatbelt around her neck, and places Jackie on her side to rest. he brushes the hair from her eyes and slowly lowers her arm. he kisses her lips softly.
Mike: i understand. thank you. i feel so blessed. the night is such a shimmering shade of deep blue.
Mike looks up at a teetering landslide.
Mike: rain, be thy glue.
the stationary circular washer holding the pipe is imbrued enough from the inundations that it comes apart!
Mike: the staff of life!
Mike takes hold of his new stick, still sparkling with atoms through and out from an unknown energy source within. he raises the stick up high and cuts through the tropical-force winds immediately above him like a hot sword.
Mike: hold on, baby, i'm coming!