Volume 3, Number 12, Page 7

OUMMCBNOM Fiction Selection

	It was a dark and stormy night as I stepped into the pouring rain, pouring like 
bullets driving into my skull, not the hard, bony part of your skull, for if it had been 
this, at least the pain would have been clear, tangible, plangent; but the soft, vulnerable 
part, the part that you don't like to think about because it reminds you of how vulnerable
you really are; how if someone shakes you up and down too much, your brain might get 
jostled and refuse to function in its present coherent manner.  And maybe this is just 
the problem.  You're being jostled by the world, everything going up and down, and you 
have no control over quite what your brain is doing or where it is going.  But at least, 
you think, you don't have baby eczema anymore.
	It was then that I looked up and saw the streetlight.  It was green, like rosebuds 
in the first days of spring, like grass glistening in the morning dew, but perhaps a shade 
darker.  But you knew that in only seconds it would sicken to a jaundiced yellow, and 
then to red, and it was the deep, bloody, inevitable red of which I was afraid, afraid of 
what that moment might bring, that moment that is repeated a thousand times every day in 
everyone's life, but which somehow maintains a bit of mystery about it, an elusiveness 
that screams, "Listen!" like one of your grade school teachers trying to tell you 
something you didn't want to know, that you feared to know, that you would be tested on.  
Only it wasn't like that.  Because there was no teacher who would add a bit of humanity, 
security, to the situation.  Only the traffic light.
	Cold, unfeeling, yellow.  God, it was yellow!
	And I watched the traffic stop.  It was then that I opened my umbrella.  It opened
with a "whoosh!", a passionate yet apathetic "whoosh," as if it were expressing all the 
frustration of my life in a single burst of sound and air, signifying everything, yet 
nothing.  Like the poems you write as a youth, which at first seem eloquent and profound 
yet upon further examination reveal only that you do not understand yourself, that you 
have not yet fully grasped the English, the language, despite how you throw around 
metaphors and similes as if they showed some kind of nonchalant brilliance, a native 
knowledge of how the world works.
	Thus protected from the torrent of aquatic bullets, I turned my attention to the cars 
which were stopping slowly, reluctantly, aggravated by the interference of the traffic 
control.  I looked at the people inside the cars, feeling as if I, too, were inside 
their automobiles, and I could feel the rich texture, hideous opulence, of the leather 
interiors.  But I knew that under that leather was the vulgar metal, the coarse inner 
workings, the putrid gasoline without which the leather would be only guilty, shameful, 
dead cow.  Roadkill.  But somehow I knew that I wanted to be sitting on that leather, no 
matter what shame enshrouded it, as if it were all of humanity, and despite the sins of 
humanity, despite the wretchedness of how it had become, what it had become, I retained
a burning desire to be a part of it.
	Like a corpulent child tormented by its peers yet still wanting to be one of them, to 
understand them, to even love them, love as if they were yet another extension of his 
rotund self, perhaps an arm, or a leg, or maybe something more important, something 
internal, a spleen, or more precisely a kidney, for we each have two of them.
	The rain began to seep through the pores of my umbrella, blurring the self-promoting 
emblem emblazoned on the surface, to work its way through the crevices of my protective 
shield back to me, back to my soft skull, becoming once again dull bullets.  But this 
time, with the added cruelty that comes after moments of peace, like the first small 
shoots of pain following the medication that dilutes the ache of having your teeth 
pulled out of your mouth, wrenched out of a protective place where they lived in 
harmony with others like them, without fear of disturbance, suddenly being violated.
	And just like that, I was torn away from my little place of refuge under the umbrella
as with a sharp whipping of the wind my umbrella broke, not into pieces, but inverting
itself, leaving a useless corpse which could only remind me of the shelter which I had 
once taken for granted.  But only now did I truly see the umbrella.  I saw the 
never-ending intricacies of the fractal that once was my umbrella, the surface smoothly 
grooved by mechanical stitches, stitches which not so many years ago would have been sewn 
lovingly by some elderly women in a brown cotton dress, complete with cream colored apron 
and handspun lace, or perhaps by her young daughter, just learning how to stitch an 
umbrella, and with thoughts of childish fancy more abundant in her brain than thoughts 
of my umbrella; and I saw the spiderlike spokes, crippled by the wind in a way few humans 
can understand.
	The drivers soon became impatient with the light which burned endlessly yellow with 
unnatural fire.  The engines of the luxurious and ironically named horseless carriages 
revved, not understanding the light's unwavering indecisiveness, wanting to push onward
or at least to stop, their windshield wipers beating mechanically in an attempt to 
fend off the deluge of rain which my umbrella simply could not stand up to.  And I 
felt an incomparable loss as I realized, with a certainty I'd never known before, 
that the traffic light was broken.


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