Even out in the sticks, where the commotion was muted by nature’s own symphony, heads were turning. Up on the rolling dunes, those becoming aware ascended the promontory and afforded themselves a new vista. Something so old and staid, rarely affected by change, was moving, out there, somewhere.
In the skies above the harlequin patchwork of shadows, the light begins to guild. Another sun appears, an illusion perhaps, but another star is expected, somewhere in time. For now, the roiling clouds filter the light into a glittering dazzle.
Fanfares and flags unfurled with the new light of a new day. Those listening could hear the echoes of victory foretold; those unattuned to such sorcery simply sampled the sweet music of joy. Voices lifted, choruses swelled. Someone danced across the grand avenue, another joined in. This was how the tide was turned; one action, joined by another, and another, and on. A gathering of power. A commonweal of good will put to action.
Those there drank the clearing like manna, as if the blue tide of it in the sky would ebb, but the departure of darkness seemed, somehow, permanent. Something had changed about the relationship between the combatants. It was as if the acceptance of a preternatural ebb and flow of dominance had ended.
Light still tarries with its rival. It needs to be vigilant within the dynamic of the natural order. Dark clouds can gather on the horizon. Night falls. The light respects all of this, but it may never again long for the false promises of evening’s embrace.
Some kind of underground throwback – hoods dressing like ’30’s movie gangsters; taggers putting up bespoke swells in boss hats. The alleys seemed odd on those days, like movie sets that had sprung up out of nowhere and without notice. Maybe that was it, who knows. lots of things happened in the alleys back then, before the city cleaned the places out. Model shoots and music videos, impromptu parties, and sure, movies as well. They were keen to film those old time scenes while the old time buildings were still there, crumbling brick and missing mortar. The costumed feel was not an hallucination. Lots of actors and poseurs dressed up as if from another time, scattering about in the shadows, and memorialized on the alley walls.
That hat, or the girl with that hat, is what one remembers. How she spun it around on her finger like a circus act, and your eye would follow its turning until it dissolved into the light show and the beat of the music and all this together was that good kind of dizzy.
Arms and legs and that hat – from a distance it all could look like one animal, pushing in a hundred different directions, but in rhythm. That boom boom boom that moved us all. The D.J. is king for a set or two, a few hours at least before the hats go back in the closet, the animal breaks off into separate lives, and daylight comes.
The break in the neon darkness saved many lives; still, all that everyone wanted was another night.
Continuing the expeditions of Jeff MacNelly, James Kilpatrick, and Eugene McCarthy, with apologies.
This creature is not the amoebic, amorphous, lobbyist end-of-life stage of a Radical, but rather, a Radical that has metamorphosed, mid-life, into a viable, super-sentient being. The heightened awareness of the Post-Radical stems from its prior experience- its years along the fringes gave it a perspective unattainable by swamp lifers. Seemingly all knowing, it attracts a coterie of hangers-on and acolytic would be biographers. Steeped in newfound stature and old war stories from the edge, the Post-Radical seems to live the best of lives. However, proceed with caution around this creature. Its prior motivations lie latent within, and inconvenient reversals may be unavoidable.
He used to love this country, with its open spaces, and single family homes for anyone willing to do the rehab work. Everyone had a car and a 401k. He learned the language quickly, excepting a disregard for the th sound at the beginning of words, but saying “dis” instead of “this” just made him fit in better in Chicago. He used to love this county, especially the immigrants, the Italians and Chinese that owned the places where he ate, even the Mexicans he worked with on jobs, who brought homemade food to share with him at lunch. They all seemed to make him feel comfortable in a strange place, assimilating together in a colorful new home. Then came the flood of people from his own country, of a late generation, bringing with them the dread of that old stagnant land, seeping it into this once promising haven for aspiration. He didn’t worry anymore that the newcomers would sap his drive, for it was already gone, departed as soon as he saw his block filling up with newcomers speaking his native tongue who bought houses with no money down. They parked their leased Mercedes SUV’s in their driveways, and hung outlet store jewelry on their wives who dressed like harem girls. He once tried to help them ease into the grind here, or rather they sought him out – his eastern features calling out to them, convincing them to start conversations in the old language. He would answer in English at first, then not at all after they registered displeasure at his rejection of the native tongue. “This is America,” he would say, “you have to learn English.” Soon, he wasn’t invited anymore when the neighbors would welcome visitors from the old country. At the pool hall, the younger men from the block began to gather around and cheer on whomever he was playing at the table. They would steal the tip money he left on the bar, and use it to wager against him. Sometimes their wives would come in and look at him the way he used to look at the old monarchists in his hometown.
He used to love this country, and now that love has diminished. He left the pool hall one Friday and drove all night and day, way out west, to the middle of nowhere, and felt a rush. It was that old feeling, same as when he first arrived here so many years ago. Maybe he would relocate within the great unpopulated expanse now, to get away…