1 min read

by William Thomas

After the service, which we observed reading comix wedged into tiny kids' desks in the school library while Nedd declaimed loudly and happily in an unbroken stream of excitedly disconnected autobiographical thoughts Kerouac would have envied or protested and the jovial Jesuit did whatever priests do with the congregation in the next room a hundred-thousand light-years from home, we got back aboard the Seec and rattled off into the slowly gathering gloom. 

     Traffic was light. Perched in the back of the open-sided conveyance, arms spread wide between disparate and questionable handholds, I was too preoccupied with not falling out to closely observe the passing shops, sunk in shadows anyway. All around us lights were coming on in the living complexes soaring in tapering silvery spires above deserted walkways and abruptly dead-ending cul de sacs, like on the lurid covers of those sci-fi paperbacks I used to buy for seventy-five cents at Rexall when I was a kid on a red Schwinn in Grand Haven a million years ago. 

     I glimpsed figures moving behind cleargel – flashing smiles, moves to embrace, animated conversations – and turned away, all that cozy warmth and hive familiarity making me feel even more estranged from surroundings I still hadn't grasped and never would.   

     No sound came from its powertrain as the Seec clattered and banged down the bumpy, budget-challenged boulevard like Roy Roger's jeep – Tinkerbelle? Nelly Belle? Black-and-white cowboy shows a vague and distant dream. It felt strange yet oddly comforting riding on wheels again. 

     Nedd drove one-handed with the other on my knee. This made my homophobia flare up – those years being the only blond at that all-boys academy still traumatic – until I realized he was just being companionable and this was just what lonely spacers did out here. 

     "Okay," Nedd said and simply stopped. 

     After a moment, I guessed I was supposed to get out. So I did. Nedd tossed my duffel down to me. I shouldered it and looked up. 

     "See you," I said. 

     "Bubbles," Nedd said, because he had to say something. Then he drove off, leaving me somewhere between No Place and I-Don't-Know-Where in the long Alpha Centuri dusk.  

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Glass city -wallhere.com