Fiction 2015 / Issues / Spring 2015 / Volume 45

Junkscape — Mark Antony Rossi

City nights are nearly lightless as the rural outback where only stars remind strangers they are alone. Here the landscape is actually a junkscape spilling with structures, obstacles, creatures and every kind of preying beast reared by neglect and nice folk. A zip code for zillionaires careful to keep the suburbs clean. Their wives at home. And our whores busier than a Chinese slave labor factory.

Huddling between the well-worn streets is the residue of molested dreams. Stuff casually wiped off the feet of the finest examples of society. And when they fall down an open manhole or bleed profusely under a bridge—the city never blinks nor sleeps nor races for discovery. Like yesterday’s soda can there’s so much more where that came from. The gallons of blood released each year upon the sidewalks oil the machinery of commerce. You and I, neither big shot nor bum, are merely workers punching the clock before it punches us back.

No time to think. Time is money. Money is freedom. Freedom is cable and a pack of camels. Publicly despising the so-called shiftless vagrants we meet daily. Privately hoping a good ass kissing will prevent the boss from adding another one. Yes, I love the city, its hot dogs and homeless. I believe in all its great truths about civilization and advancement. Each time I visit the museum I know how better off I am than the dinosaur. And each time I take the train home I know how better off I am than the beggars bumming for a bologna sandwich in a filthy tunnel. It’s a charmed life this city living. I feed the pigeons and cry. Alone.

I nose around and drift about. There are thousands who do the same thing. Rarely confessing unless under extreme duress or cold draft.  Horrible revelations occur. Ripping the gut in places surgeons cannot find. Mirrors mocking your station and wardrobe. Mind mixing poor minions and middle class servants. Eyes unable to swear to the difference. The void. The friendless state of affairs few ask for. The smile lifeless pennies fail to attract. The purpose of modern progress questioned over and over and over again. History books shed no light. Holy books give too much heat. Hot chocolate settles the stomach until the next homeless guy shares a hygiene tip or a hypodermic needle.

Are these cities really centers of Commerce or Madness? Who wants to know?  We walk with healthy wallets and still feel sick. We give at Christmas and are still unsaved. We vote right, dream left and raise our heads to fool the world. City nights are not so nearly lightless as the occupants who trade their souls for a slice of paradise. You and I must finally admit it’s all fixed. And we are not shoeless because our value is still marketable. Eden’s a pastel background for puppeteers pushing the hot buttons of cute college kids who actually believe hard work and love separate the rich and the poor. Come to the city and lose your religion. You innocent fuck. For a moment you are blind and blessed.

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