a Dem Bones fairytale
From where she stood in front of the door marked “Enter” she could hear, or thought she could hear, the whistle of a cardinal. It must be spring on the other side of the glass door.
She pushed the entry buzzer and in the distance, she could hear, or thought she could hear, snippets from an ancient Eagles’ tune. Or was it from something Meatloaf sang in the early 80s? Life had been pretty sweet back then, living alone on God’s Little Acres, with only the swish of a Snowy Owl’s wings in the winter and the warble of the Bluebird in summer.
It was surreal out there in the forest where anything could happen but never did…except for the Reverend Carpenter’s wife who leapt off the water tower way back when.
The door swung open. At last she was inside. Here she was in Domesville, standing under the largest glass dome ever, bigger by far than the trio of Buckminster Fuller-inspired domes in her former hometown, the ones housing thousands of orchids and man-eating plants known to eat an occasional child or two. As a child, her parents had taken her to Montreal to see Fuller’s splendid dome, and for a few years she’d lived in a dome home populated by pot-smoking hippies.
Clutching her enormous Gucci bag packed tightly with things she couldn’t bear to part with: several years supply of NoCrax (a wrinkle and crevice filler), novels from Oates, Irving and Updike, Willy Nelson’s “Stardust” album and the landline number to her best friend Sharon, who was destined to remain in the almost empty town of OtherSide. She was glad to be here, and lucky she guessed, that she’d drawn a straw that got her the only remaining slot.
It was the BIG CONFLAGRATION (BC) of ’01 that leveled the OtherSide, leaving it to rot and eventually become mostly desert. Actually, Sharon’s landline number was useless, because she and the remaining ten citizens had been struck dumb by a rampaging paralysis of the tongue. Most walked around with notepads and stubs of pencils scrounged from the smoldering remains of the town’s only five & dime.
However bleak the landscape around OtherSide, all was seemingly swell beneath the glittering dome. Was it an illusion, or did it stretch on forever? Any fool could tell that the sky wasn’t really a sky, but rather a nod to Disney, programmed for hourly changes. Currently, it was cloudless and to the east (was it the east?), Venus was featured.
But where were all the folks who’d entered Domesville, all those butchers, bakers and candlestick makers? Those folks of color, folks of no color, the halt and the lame, the fat and the not so, the beautiful and the beastly, her relatives aplenty and people of no account, with an occasional Evangelical minister leading an entire flock thrown in for good measure?
Getting into Domesville was strictly the luck of the straw-draw. If you drew the short end, tough titties, suck it up.
But no one else seemed to be around the joint, though directly in front of her at the entry door, she was sure she saw a slumped-shouldered Toyota salesman and an armed cowboy slightly resembling Clint Eastwood in his early days. Only a fool would want to leave this place, though she wasn’t entirely convinced as she rode the moving floor to her Unit #7. Lining the long glassy halls running parallel to the moving floor were framed images of big-eyed children, floppy eared puppies, wishy-washy watercolors of sunsets and rose bushes…you get the drift don’t you?
In her OtherSide days, she’d been employed as an art critic, but frankly, it was a dumb job and eventually the Internet killed it all. Suddenly everyone was an art critic and no one really gave a rat’s ass about quality, except a few artists who beat their chests and proclaimed they, among all others, were the greatest. At least a few of them must be living somewhere in the multiple Units.
The gold key to #7 was in the lock, along with a hand-lettered “Do Not Disturb” sign. The door swung open and inside was a trailer queen’s dream home, replete with green and gold flocked vinyl wallpaper, chartreuse shag carpeting and purple swag-lamps. It called to mind a one-night-stand she’d had at a dump known as “The Humper.” Round and raunchy like a pornographic space ship, the red velvet beds were fun, though the room service turkey dinners were nothing to crow about. Lumpy and gray gravy served with a turkey neck slapped onto a bed of grits just didn’t cut it.
Yes indeed, #7 was pretty slick, what with a blaze-orange capsule for zoning out, one black Eames chair of unknown vintage, a post-modern glass desk for grinding out her newspaper column (was her Iowa hometown still around?) and a small-ish chamber pot shaped (curiously) like Lake Michigan. The dimensions of the room were obviously in flux. Since sitting down in the Eames, she was sure her room had grown from 10’ x 10’ to one measuring 100’ x 100’, but no sooner had she tried to pace off the space, than it morphed to a 5” x 5” area, which put her head in direct contact with the curious chamber pot.
The view from this room wasn’t all that bad, or at least it was better than a blank brick wall, which was what she’d had in the waning days of OtherSide. It was difficult to determine direction, after all this was a dome, but she seemed to be looking south over an expanse of lush green fields of tall yellow corn. That meant it must be late summer and time to de-tassel. A humming in her head prompted her to turn a crank near her hand.
The scene changed. Now it depicted an enormous hospital, St.YRNVRLVG with a bustling operating room crammed with machines endlessly ping ping-pinging. In the background, screams of Third World liver donors echoed through the hallowed hospital halls lined with elaborate oil paintings of body parts.
Another turn of the crank, and Beijing swung into view to reveal café tables of foreign-types sipping Starbuck’s Grand Lattes, and don’t forget the extra shot of Himalayan espresso if you please, Missy. Personally, she preferred Folgers, maybe because their famed spokes person, Mrs. Olson, was from a Swedish berg in Iowa, down the road from her hometown, as the crow flies over the west branch of the muddy Nodaway River and then some. Life as she knew it was over, though just in case it wasn’t, she’d packed a red can of the stuff.
Maybe it wasn’t such a good deal to be inside of Domesville, but too late now to turn and run. Once In, Never Out, was engraved on the bronze urn near the dome’s entry point. It looked good when she strolled in, but perhaps it was as much warning as welcome.
Was that Hal’s hollow voice? Tough bananas, the luck of the draw, deal with it baby. Pick up the pink pill. Study the menu. Tonight you’re having f%*#@& grilled turkey neck on a bed of sticky grits. Make my day.