book of days serial #13

Somewhere farther up the hill a bird began to sing. He was in the desert seventy miles south south west of Las Vegas. The strike of light from the apex of the Luxor pyramid on the southern end of ‘the strip’ burned across the desert sky. He listened to the bird. At first the low, rich music sounded like water dripping on something hollow, the bottom of a silver pot perhaps, then like a stick being dragged slowly over the string of a harp. He lay quietly, listening.

When the bird grew silent, he made an effort to put the city out of his mind and began to think about the sky on fire. He was alive in the city that was burning at high noon, the flames competing with the desert sun, less like a holocaust than a celebration of bright flags flying from roofs and windows. He wanted the city to have quite a gala air as it burned, to appear in a communal gaiety. The people who set the fire would be a holiday crowd, hallucinating in the landscape as it tottered on apocalypse.

She sat in her car parked at the curb in Culver City. There was an orange mackerel sky over the purple hue of taut space behind. She lay back in the seat and traced the top of the windshield across the sky. She looked as though she could feel the city whirling about her. Her eyes shuttered as if everything were abuzz and the equilibrium of the gentle windshield arc held her pinned in place. She shut her eyes. The buzz was now focused in her fingertips as the grog of blood swept into her consciousness. Her fingertips pulsed. She pressed them against her thighs and her head lapsed back to the left of the headrest. Then she clutched the leathery vinyl emergency brake. She stroked its inorganic surface. It was stable. When she opened her eyes several cars were parked around her, flanking her vehicle and leering emptily. She left the car and strode past them adjusting her skirt over her hips and watching the exhausted sky trace across the windshields.

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