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In a Country Where Everything Has Spin

by

Paul Dickey

 

 

 
     
   

 

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EVERYONE WAS BRACED FOR THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGN. It was going to be a long summer without anyone being able to say anything new. There were no good books being published, no decent movies to see.  Everything was all part of the marketing strategy of one candidate or the other. Or, at least, that is what the other campaign said.
______The guy next to me on the downtown bus, Seymour, was a talking head left over from the pool at the Wolf News. He had been scheduled last night between 7:32 and 7:34, but the commercials had run over and all he got to say was six words with two talking points –  “flip flop, not in the mainstream.” He had been promised that he could do three talking points, and if he was effective, next time he could say three words of his very own and plug his book.
______When Seymour got off the bus, a lovely young lady of an undeterminable ethnicity took his seat. Within minutes, she said her name was Eva and she was speaking to me of the country of her grandfathers, I supposed, in an accent so thick that I could not understand a word.
______I was so flustered that all I could think to tell her was that my grandfather Homer once opened a checking account in his name alone without telling Grandma to save up to buy a 1969 green Ford – the color of a chameleon –  because he didn’t trust Grandma, who spent money like crazy.  She smiled, but I don’t think she understood.
______When she got to her stop, I thought she asked if I wanted to get off the bus with her. It was the University stop – the dorms were a few blocks west, and apartments and the new library were around the corner from the dorms.  Only after we were off the bus did I realize that I was mistaken and she hadn’t asked me to get off at all, but only if I was getting off there. Anyway, it was too late and another bus wouldn’t be coming for an hour.  I tried to keep her talking to me. Her voice seemed so close and yet so far, so portentous, and so absent of tangible meaning.
______I offered to buy her a beverage. I didn’t know if to suggest tea, coffee, or beer, and yet I felt that if I said the wrong one, it would be devastating -- the end of the world, so to speak.  I think she said that it all wasn’t necessary. Anyway, it didn’t matter anymore with the way the economy was. She knew what it meant that I had gotten off the bus with her. There had been a prophecy of it in ancient times. She would like to show me where she lived.
______She took me around several corners, even backtracking like she was lost but I knew she wasn’t. I admit though, I became confused. We entered her apartment building apparently from the back. It didn’t look like an apartment house, but I was sure she would know where she lived. Once inside, the hall was dark and her room was down several flights of stairs.  The steps reminded me of the back stairway to the old library when I had been an undergraduate in the school several years ago. I was definitely mistaken, I thought, and soon we were at her door.  She unlocked it, but she didn’t turn on the light. “When I have lovah, I wanna ever’thing to be p’fect, misty, uh, mysterious. No lights. No see.” 
______It was dark; it was absolute dark. I was totally blind, but she made it all good.  Somehow, I managed to stumble around and get my clothes off.
______“Here, jus’ you are.”  As I dropped down, I felt that I landed on something that could have been a bed.  Before I knew it, she was lying there with me. I could tell only by touching her that she was naked.  The best love I had ever had.  Although all night it felt like I was falling off the mattress, perhaps on the edge of oblivion. There were few sounds, but all night I heard words as I had never heard them before, but as they had been said for centuries. I prayed that some day again there would be light and knowledge, and when I awoke in the morning, there was light.
______I knew immediately something was weird. This was not an apartment at all. It was maybe a janitor’s old storage room in a warehouse that had been cleaned out and now contained shelves of old books and documents – ancient works of literature, science, military history -- stacked high to the ceiling. 
______To my mind, it was a vast archive of man’s history being preserved in case the unthinkable should happen.  She explained it all immediately, but of course, I could not understand a word she said. She may have said something again about that crazy prophecy.  I got my clothes on and she led me out of the room, out of the building, back towards the bus stop.
______Then it hit me. Of course! I knew where we were.  It was the old humanities library that wasn’t torn down when they built the new Edmund G. Wolf Library. It got that name because old Wolf had put up the big bucks.  Rather than tear down the old, they attached the new library to the old with tunnels and halls, so they could use it for storage. 
______My lover’s room, well, symbolically speaking of course, was the remnants of human civilization, a storehouse of scholarship.  Yes it was, one I knew in my heart of hearts that Wolf News only was keeping just in case in some future time it came in handy to push an agenda or to sell their old, dilapidated white house on Pennsylvania Avenue when the real estate market crashed.  Surely I had seen all that I was allowed to see.
______At the bus stop, she didn’t stay with me. As soon as I sat down on the bench and acted composed, she was gone. I was sad to see her leave, but I was sadder because maybe I was beginning to understand what her lovely words meant.
______I wanted to be alone on the bus, but Seymour saw me and flopped down on the seat beside me. He had just got a lucky break. He was going to be on tonight’s Bricks and Bats show, telling it like it is, they promised, for five whole minutes. 
______As I often do, I looked out the scratchy and streaky bus window to the city I had always said was a poor excuse for reality. Past 4th Street, I saw the billboard advertising a trip to Jamaica, or Cancun, wherever your lonely heart desires. The Wolf Travel Agency will take you anywhere you want to go, it said.
______The background was the color of a chameleon. The almost-naked, human-sized lady on the sign sipped a mai tai. On the poster,I could see more of her luscious body and the knowledge of good and evil than the night before when we had been together.

Our Stories

 

     

 

Paul Dickey

Paul Dickey holds a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, in the History and Philosophy of Science.  In the mid-1970’s, he published poetry and studied fiction at Wichita State University under Bienvenido Santos. Retired now from a career in computer technology, Paul Dickey teaches philosophy in Omaha, NE.  Dickey's poetry is forthcoming or has appeared this year in Mid-American Review, Sentence, Free Lunch, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Swink, and online at www.linebreak.org and other online and print venues.  A poetry chapbook, What Wisconsin Took, was published by The Parallel Press (Madison, WI) in 2006.  Biographical information, links to online work, and additional notes on previous publishing activity can be found here.

 

 

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