by Vincent Daemon
The abrasive, twisted punk rock’n’roll of Cancerslug thrummed slowly to a stop in the background, as Jonathan Agar sat in the driver’s seat of his car, a frustrated exhaustion clogging every pore of his being. The very last thing he needed to deal with at this moment was yet another vehicular breakdown on the way to his loathsome job at the infamous Corman’s Petting Zoo. Especially in the 3 a.m. cold and black-as-pitch stillness of Middle-Of-Nowhere, Dolton, PA, where this night was indeed eerily silent and quite clear.
He looked up above and seemingly every star could be seen, a strange and most exalted feeling of infinite isolation taking hold of his being, as the cloudless sky made him even more aware of his insignificance within these endless realms of ever-expanding universe. He pushed the thought from his head, as it only fueled his increasing, as-of-late near-consistent negativity.
John pulled on his smoke in a state of justified annoyance. It was most definitely the spark plug, and he was out of his stash of extra plugs (maybe out of spark plugs, but thankfully, for his own peace of mind, not good middies), as this was a regular issue with his shit-beater of a car. His only choice was to walk the frigid two miles to deal with this day’s oncoming nightmare scenario (he could just feel it), which included the drop-off of a shadily acquired and notoriously ill-behaved polar bear named Cyimir to the petting zoo.
Yeah, it boggled John’s mind, but everything Corman did seemed to have that effect. It was to be for the annual Doltonwood (the nickname for the town center) Christmas Carnival, so that this year Corman could win the large monetary prize (that had eluded him for over a decade) that was supposed to be donated to a charity. Corman’s chosen charity? The Corman Petting Zoo and Preserve Protection Fund, of course. If he were to win. And Christ forbid Corman get the idea in his thick skull to let the kids pet or feed the damn bear at some point, which is something the cheap codger would do for an extra buck or two without a second thought. A polar bear for Christ’s sake? As if that damned nine-hundred-seventy-five pound duck weren’t enough. Or those creepy, giant blind penguins. Fuck, man, this is shit I shouldn't even have to worry about, let alone walking two miles in the sub-freezing cold in the dead of fucking night to get to this underpaid shitstain of a job John’s mind repeated as he began to bundle up for his dreaded walk.
But, there may be another option to this whole walking thing, he figured. That option would be to call his essentially ex-girlfriend, Joan, which would definitely be pushing the limits of a tough boundary set of her choosing. The cold of the night seemed like the warmest, sweetest of days compared to Joan’s frigidity of personality. But that walk in this kind of bum-killing cold was ridiculous, and he figured she might pick him up, even though her track record of reliability, in any given situation–let alone an emergency–was virtually nil. This he knew from personal experience: she really couldn’t stand him, and openly admitted on more than one occasion that the only reason she kept him around was that he was “a good fuck” as she so graciously put it. He knew this, but options in Dolton were slight, and it fed his self-defamatory mindset anyway, so he just stuck with it. Besides, what else did he really expect from a dancer of her particular sketchy caliber? But the faulty ego-boost had long ago faded, the words “I Love You” meaning nothing more than “‘k, whatever” in her language.
He made the call anyway.
“What?” was the chilly answer. “What do you want.”
“I was just on my way to work, and my last spark plug blew. I was kind of wondering if you were available to, I don’t know, maybe give me a lift to work, I’m still about two miles away, and it’s fucking dangerously cold out here.”
“No,” was her quick and simple reply.
“Joan, it’s fucking freezing out here, literally. Look, I’ll even pay you.”
“No.” Not even a moment for her to contemplate a different answer.
John could hear what sounded like several other females and males alike in the background. “Oh, I guess you’re busy right now...”
“Yeah, in fact I am. Me’n some of the girls are hanging out at Laughton’s house. I’ll be here all night at least, so you can–” the more Joan hurdled her drug-rant stripper-insults directly into John’s ear (words he knew he’d eventually hear from her wanna-be bad-girl goth-dancer mouth of self-deluded unattainability)–the more his mind and heart seethed. John’s cell phone died, just then, in the middle of that horrendously hateful rant.
In fact, it all just suddenly stopped working. Everything–at some point he could never quite trace back to–just stopped working. His entire existence.
John stood up out of his car and looked around into the clear, cold darkness, feeling truly alone, fighting back involuntary tears of burning frustration. Looking up to mock a God he never knew if he ever believed in, John began to notice this darkness growing rather quickly into a blinding white-blue fiery light that emanated from a ball streaming through the sky, his teary gaze clearing finally as he looked up. This ball of flame was leaving behind it the most astonishing and beautiful tail of sparks and fizzling fiery pops and blasts, far beyond the faux-grandiosity he’d seen of so many staid and standard fireworks displays. Colors popped from it that he wasn’t sure he’d even seen before this moment. Odd glowing “reds” and “indigos”–really the best descriptions he could think of–though those were not the colors, just the closest proximity to which he could relate them.
There was a heat that projected from this quickly shrinking ball that faded with the size of the unexpected meteor, or comet, or whatever this would be considered. The heat was, for a moment, like standing next to a bonfire too close, but as it fizzled out it was the same feeling as that bonfire rapidly dying down, a quick cooling off back to the cold of this early winter night. A noxious, sulfurous and methane-tinged scent began to linger in the air after the fiery ball from another place had disappeared into the thick tangle of woods that extended from the sides of the road, the outskirts of Dolton, an ever dark and mysterious place known locally as The Diabolos Hills.
“Holy shit!” John exclaimed aloud. “I should make a wish or something I guess, heh,” he chuckled to himself. And just that he did, knowing of course that such silliness was the fodder of childhood dreams and magickal thinking (certainly something not new to John). His wish was simple, but he dare not even think it a second time, let alone mumble it aloud. He felt silly enough even doing it just that once, the mere thought, almost like an atheist attending Christmas Midnight Mass. But if there was even the slightest possibility of its occurrence, of this wish ever coming true, so to speak, he didn’t want that clusterfucked in any way whatsoever.
Down that long, dark, and frigid road John began his walk to this job he hated more than anything other than possibly Joan at that moment. But he was happy the strange meteor or whatever it was in the sky stopped that wretched conversation. That was the actual very last thing he needed to deal with at that moment. In fact, he was just happy to have seen whatever it was–it was beautiful and unexpected–a rare quirk of cosmic, extraterrestrial nature he had just witnessed. Something most never get to witness. Amidst his shit-storm of a life that internally ate away at him like an armpit full of chiggers, he felt grateful to have been possibly the lone viewer of this spectacular natural event.
He pulled a nicely rolled joint from his coat pocket, lit up, then began his long trudge down the cold, quiet and lonely late night highway. It felt like, looked like, and even sounded like the perfect metaphor for his life.
Click Here to read