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Sixty-Third Sitting

Her motions became mechanical, or so it seemed. He grew immobile, or so it seemed. The tiny foreign little VCR of a car seemed very large, too large for Her to comfortably parallel park. She consequently did this uncomfortably, which is more Her style anyway. They could see the faint glimmerings of an immense blaze down a largish hill and beyond a building, but couldn't see any way to park anywhere near it, which They really wouldn't have wanted to do anyway, seeing how cars do tend to explode if set alight. They simultaneously pressed the seatbelt release buttons; the straps whizzed back. Doors opened: Hers quickly, His delayed. He lifted Himself as if burdened; She checked to make sure all the doors were locked. She pulled Her coat around Her and shook off the slight hint of iciness in an otherwise pleasant evening's air. He looked at the full moon and thought about how best to write about it. Best not to, undoubtedly. She glanced in His direction: Who is that? What does He want? She fought back a very slight hint of sorrow which answered Her question by focusing on Her ambivalence... Between being concerned and annoyed, that is, with the way He had been acting. She shook it off and smiled. It came back. They walked across the narrow university street they had parked on and on to a path which would lead them through a short patch of trees, and then on to a large... no a great field. He thought again, on and compulsively, about the structure of this passage, and its relation to the structure of the events, and the relation of that to current socio-economic trends, and to the evolution of the species, and the formation of planets, and the proper arrangement of spices in the Platonic Ideal Spice Cabinet, existing as the abstraction of all that is truly and essentially SpiceCabinetty. Weirdo.

They came upon the field with Him at least twelve yards ahead, bounding down the increasingly-sharp descent, just daring His knee to start hurting again... She named all the trees as She passed them... there really wasn't a lot of variety in this part of the country. Some song went through Her head, but She couldn't place it. She made a point of being relaxed and cautious in Her descent, so as not to step in a hole or twist an ankle, or lose this moment too quickly. No. She pushed that thought, or at least the sentimental, extreme part of it, away, and with calm deliberation moved forward in His wake.

They at last reached the building between them and the fire. After a five foot drop (apparently humans weren't quite meant to tread where they had been making tracks), He landed on concrete and moved forward to pull at the locked doors. They could hear the sounds of the crowd now, and the fire itself -- a crackling with a low moan swirled around in it. She let Herself gently down onto the pavement and followed the rear of the building. He tried to cross through an area under construction, through which the fire was plainly visible, but found it to have no actual floor. His hands were cold; they acted like that far too often. He rejoined Her on the walk. "Very Big," He said. "Yeah," She said.

As they passed around the building and approached the fire, the smell reached them, and the heat... To Her It was a thick, dangerous smell, caressing Her face but at the same time making it tingle and flinch in little places. To Him it was a tremendous gust that caught Him in the chest and straightened His posture. His eyes fixed on it, while Hers darted away. They approached, moving past the ready-to-hand emergency vehicles to join the crowd on the side closest to them of a ditch about twelve feet wide and six feet down, sloping on each side for easy passage. There were a number of people on the other side, and from there stretching around the perimeter of the blaze, which was, I'd say, about five houses with standard suburban yards wide and three across. Through It they could faintly see the outlines of more people, and more, and the valley beyond, and that big, incredibly fake-looking sky with the silly-ass moon hanging in it all bloated as if it had something to be bloated about. Words were spoken, but more words were overheard, as various members of the crowd mocked the reckless people who ran through the blaze and mocked each other. "I bet if somebody just walked in and committed suicide, that'd be the end to this school tradition," someone said. I bet if one of those blazes just puffed out a bit, engulfing that group of people standing less than thirty feet away, that'd be the end. I bet if that fire arched up and filled the dome of the sky, raining down on houses and DOGS for miles, that'd be the end. He put on His sunglasses and beckoned Her across the ditch.

She followed, watching Her step, and shying Her eyes further from what was already too much smoke. "Cool," He said. "Yeah," She said. More was said, but with less memorable content. They just stood there, side by side, staring into, away from, and beyond the blaze. "We should have brought those marshmallows we bought. We forgot to make S'mores."

"I'll feed them to the DOGS later."

"Don't give `em heart attacks."

"Okay."

He stared, His eyes fixed on the structure right in front of Him, shaped like a house, complete with door... He merely nodded when She said She had to retreat back to the other side of the ditch, that It was just getting too hot. He held out His hands, rotating them in interesting patterns until at last they were as bloody hot as the rest of His front side. He took a step forward and thought about the climax of the Book, how He could dress the thing up to look like His visit to Hell, how the figures He saw, the shapes shifting in the blaze and spitting various substances into the sky and on His skin, were His demons... something like that. ...Some punishment for taking what was not offered. He wondered if She would at least let Him kiss Her before He left. More precisely, He wondered how Her doing so or failing to do so would cap off the many and various themes of various levels of inanity that have been and would be introduced. For a moment He could actually visualize the whole bloody thing, the intensity with which He must endow this scene, capping off everything simultaneously. He moved slightly forward, shielding His eyes for a moment, but then releasing them. He shifted slightly to singe His other shoulder, the one which loved Her. A part of Him collapsed, but the rest moved forward another step, and He realized that not only was He scraping the bottom of immanent despair, but that He had not even reflected upon that fact, exactly, for, well... minutes of the high intensity drama which is normally fraught with that certain glint that makes Him not regret it later no matter how bad it gets. He took another step forward and realized He was the only one for at least twenty feet who was still on the inner side of the ditch. He turned around and let it roast His back. He couldn't see Her anywhere. He turned once more to look straight into what tends to burn one's pupils if one looks too long, hacked up a largish hunk of phlegm, and spit. The fire crackled back with one mightily outreaching tendril, but too late. He was already headed back to the other side.

She stood at the back of the crowd and waited. She felt pulled off and strangely disassociated from Herself, boredom flirting with irritation flirting with sensibility puffed up by a large, no great underlying pressure. She saw Him finally move through the crowd, removing His sunglasses, and approached. She saw the very sad look in His eyes and softened somewhat. "Are you okay?" She said.

"Yeah... Uh huh."

They stood for a while longer in the warmth, no longer even glancing into its depths, but merely letting it affect them. He felt like hugging Her, or felt like He should feel like hugging Her... was there a difference? But She still seemed somewhat distant. Slowly, they pulled themselves back up the hill together.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]