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Would you like to become immortal?
By James Case
Brown water welled in the bottom of his stomach, acid drips cutting at the lining. Three cartons of sour milk spilled over the counter. There are wet chunks falling over the edge. It is so thick, it looks like white paint.
A table goes out of focus. Two old birds are deadlocked—talking about money—as big as crumbs puffed in small dabs of water.
Uncus goes for a walk in the park to forget about his failures. In the park, the trees and branches and sun and birds remind him of his failures. He can hardly look at the stuff; he can hardly look at anything. You see that bird up there? That bird is absolutely looking like it wants to get fucked up. Who’s he to not throw a rock at a bird, if the bird is asking for it?
Uncus finds himself shivering in his hoodie, thumbing through his smartphone, counting the people he can’t call anymore. He wants to delete them from his phone, but he doesn’t know how. The phone asks if he wants to sync all his information with all the other information.
“We can back up your life for $5.99, upon terms of agreement which you approve soon and will never read. We will make this document inaccessible.”
He sends an echo on a pink cord into his stomach. It doesn’t come back. He waits for it though. His sonar may be broken. He feels some small peace in that. He wouldn’t have to listen anymore. He thought—if I were a smoker, I think this is a time I would smoke.
On a curving bark trail, he hears a waterfall. He steps over the chain divider and lowers himself down and along the earth wall. His step shifts the clay and clumps soundlessly break apart and tumble down the steep hill. They make a tiny whisper as they fall into the creek. Now Uncus sees the water falling into the creek - and there running down a culvert towards an inanimate god - a wood carving of Buddha on a rock—the water runs around it—nodding in agreement—nodding like cold water on a cold day—the water moving past it, towards a blind corner—every corner blind—every thought—nodding in agreement—Buddha standing there as his wood apparition—Buddha smiling—the debris from the wall falling into the water and rushing towards Buddha—nodding in the cold—it is useless to pretend otherwise— that this water is nothing but a tributary—so wipe your nose—everything is cold and still and perfect--
Two women jog past, on the trail above the culvert, cold breath rising over their heads. They stop. There’s a water fountain. Uncus hears one woman talk about her brother.
“It would be nice if he could pick up a check now and then, is all I’m saying.”
An augmented person sets a pop-up shop near the pit in and of his chest. Through the culvert, Uncus sees black and green stones smoothed from the water, he sees black and green. Uncus feels the hungers starting. It’s time to go.
At home, Uncus washes all of his apples, the water running down the drain—Uncus does the budget in his head, paint stains on an unfocused table.