Not with A Bang, But with a Blondie Singing The Tide is High

by | Aimee Oct Day 1

Trying To Build A winning Routine

The package arrived on the porch addressed to Resident no return address. I wasn’t expecting anything. I had only just arrived, just finished a two-hour run, clouds threatened rain. The box was tiny, brown, sealed tight in transparent tape, handwriting impeccable. I brought the box inside the house and placed it on the mantle. I opened a bottle of lite beer, started the bathwater, turned the air-conditioner on, and got naked. Searching for a Bach sonata on Spotify, I heard the floorboards creep. It’s an old place, needs work, perfect for high pitch violins. The water flowed too loud to hear the symphony, rose high and quick and filled my ears, the bubble bath smelt good but stung my eyes. Steam fogged the mirror.

Jack’s Ghost Succumbs to Envy

While the new guy was running, I laid a powdered trail mix of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal around the foundation. I sprayed under too as the house sits on cement blocks. The owners are saving to move the place to where sink-wholes are not an issue. A nuclear squirrel family made an ear-splitting exit. I set the package on the porch and retreated to the hammock for reconnaissance. The palm fronds stilled their wavy applause. I thought the darkening clouds were a seal of approval. Go ahead bless this blackbody radiation. Greenlight ebullition.

The Science of Global Warming is Undebatable

Meanwhile, under the Black Sea where the chupacabras had built their stone lair, a tectonic shift in universal fault lines tumbled from crust to mantle. High water shot heavenward and tonal logic fell askew. A few freighters far from port survived, not much else: snow leopards, Andean condors, big-horned sheep, chamois, ibex, chinchilla, marmot, tahrs, and obviously bald eagles.

Combustion Tune

After towelling and the harpsichord finale, I took a steak knife and slit the edges of the well-wrapped package which contained an 8-track cartridge of Blondie’s AutoAmerican album. To my surprise, because it had not been there before my run nor bath, a portable battery-operated 8-track player sat on the mantle. What is a human to do but shove the cassette into the slot and press play?

No Warning for Noah as Recalled by Jack’s Ghost

I watched the walls and new guy’s hair go up in flames. The painted-shut window blew out, some glass shards hailed the hammock but I closed my mouth despite my smile in time to see the metal appliances fall through the pine floor. At first, I thought the rising water originated from the severed pipes but when the drowned squirrel corpses and lawn furniture floated past, I remembered my cataclysmic childhood bible studies and waded over to my neighbour’s garage to see if they had succeeded in selling the kayak.

11 Comments

  1. Len Kuntz

    David,

    It’s been a while since I’ve read your stuff. I’m used to your “sweet” voice, often with a romantic theme. Here it seems you’ve really stretched yourself, pushed yourself into a new direction. These all feel subversive as well as propulsive. Each is dense, every line like a loaded gun. They demand re-reading to capture all the cleverness you’ve layered throughout. There’s so much to enjoy here, both as a reader and writer, and the way you brought everything full circle by stringing the ends together was quite a feat.
    Really terrific work.

    Len

  2. Aimee Parkison

    David,

    I agree with Len! These are amazing, gorgeous in their subversive quality. They blew me away!

    Your writing is textured, poetic, and resonates tonally with the surreal elements of subtle horror grounded in the real.

    I felt connected to these moments and the character through the voice.

    Each sentence is a discovery, a work of art that takes the reader on a journey.

    I love the way you use exquisitely detailed sentences to ramp up a subtle tension in these pieces. Your sentences build by layering meaning with rhythms and sound. These pieces work so well as a series of micros, but also work well individually, rewarding further reading, raising questions in the reader’s mind!

    I think you should send these out to a journal that publishes micros right away. I’m thinking possibly Citron Review and/or Pigeonholes literary magazine.

    Best, Aimee

  3. Sara Comito

    David, obviously bald eagles! I am amazed at your ability to pull together this suite of micros with the Eliot/Blondie quote providing a cocktail of gravitas and pop culture humor. I’ve got the song in my head now, thanks. The bathtub runneth over for new guy who goes boom, and the vengeful ghost of Jack gets his due. The third little micro provides an eco-cosmology interlude in this symphony of destruction. Your pacing, diction, and structure is top notch as always. And you leave just enough white space to make the second read even more of a delight. Consider me equally blown away. I hope there’s room for me on this wild Ark.

  4. Meg Tuite

    Hi David,
    This took me a few times to read through and words with Sara about it. It’s definitely a funny run on the Bible studies, and Jack the ghost vs the new guy. I love the movements. Wondering if ‘new guy’ is enough? This is a beauty, but confused me. I would go with what Aimee and Sara say. You are a genius! BIG HUGS! LOVE!

    • David O'Connor

      Thanks, Meg, I think you’re right, the “new guy” needs a few lines–so the reader can picture him. thanks, beso!

  5. AJ Miller

    David, the title is fabulous and I completely agree with Sara about how you were able to tie everything together by the end of the piece. I read these a few time and found them to be equally exquisite and enjoyable each time. I love the ghost that hangs out in the hammock while the murderous plot goes down. I love the flood of death and how the squirrels show up again but dead in the end. So many lovely, fun details. I liked this a lot!

  6. Lucy Logsdon

    Wow! What an original and unique piece. I’ll admit I had to read it several times before I started being able to grasp it. But once I did, I was fine. I’m really blown away by how you make it all seem so mysterious and unconnected at first when in reality everything references everything else. Very neatly done,

  7. Kathryn Kulpa

    Hi David,
    Nice marmot! And what a wild, hallucinatory ride this is. I love segmented/mosaic flash, and this is such a good example of a non-traditional narrative structure where what seem to be random elements all converge in the end. I second (third?) the suggestion of giving New Guy an introduction. Also, I *love* “nuclear squirrel family.” RIP squirrels!

  8. Gloria Garfunkel

    David, I love the way you seamlessly alternated the creepiness of someone sending some sort of bomb to a house in a and the current escalating horror for all the world of climate change and floods, alternating the mini and mega-horrors possible in today’s world. I also love the matter-of-fact telling of the story, wondering if the guy next door still has his kayak as a response to the climate catastrophe that is linked to a filled bubble-bath and a sinking house and of course referring back to Noah’s ark. The segments of the big vs small picture of the situation work very well. Beautifully done.

  9. Emily Bertholf

    Hi David.

    What an explosive pay load we readers get in this! I love hoe you structured it, how each segment builds upon the other and creates movement much like a symphony, a crescendo. Death by 8-track bomb, of Blondie. This may stay with me forever. I also love that “new guy” follows his run with a lite beer and takes a bath to Bach. These details surprised me and made me lean into him more. I don’t often think of a runner as a beer drinker or a beer drinker as a Bach listener… and yet, I have done all of these things. So besides entertaining me and playing on my fears, you make me question my assumptions and perceptions. Well done. The other surprising detail for me was after he towels off, he opens the package with a knife, and I’m just wondering – in my mind – did he get dressed? Is he naked? So vulnerable, but also so free to walk around one’s house stark naked. How is that confidence or vulnerability impacted when he finds the player that wasn’t there. He seems so unperturbed by it, curious but unfettered and I think there could be an opportunity to add a beat or two there to bring us closer inside the character.

    You use themes of music and weather well in here with your details. It does a great job setting the mood, but in a few places I think you can lean into this more and trust the reader to pick up on it. For instance, I love the active personification in, “The palm fronds stilled their wavy applause.” You can repeat that by tightening the next line, “I thought the darkening clouds were a seal of approval. Go ahead bless this blackbody radiation. Greenlight ebullition,” to The darkening clouds sealed their approval. Bless this blackbody radiation. Greenlight ebullition. It strengthens the voice and impact when I read it, but of course, it’s just a suggestion.

    The hammock and kayak, great touches too. I love how the sinister so casually and easily brushes against the mundane and our every day lives here. Very creeps, captivating, and well done!

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