On Significance

 

Windows down, he drives through the orange haze of perpetual afternoon. Dry heat settles on his dusty dash and will sleep there all night. The hill town quiets everything. It's hallways of ponderosa pines and squat brick buildings forever empty. Nothing like Rome, he thinks, where the cries of street vendors and dead emperors echo endlessly off marble and stone. The headlines say that yesterday an elk was spotted near the schoolhouse, and supposedly the 90-year-old wheelchair bound war hero was bludgeoned to death when his drug deal went bad. It makes sense, he tells himself and ashes his cigarette. When he closes his eyes, a young actress calls his name. We always think there will be more time, she says. What unknowns will you regret? Her black cocktail dress melts away revealing a pale body of heavenly frescoes – a flurry of two-dimensional angels patrol her small breasts. We always think there will be more time, she repeats. I need a whiskey, he thinks, and stops at a bar called The Snake Pit where he hopes he’ll get knifed in the bathroom. Instead inside the place swarms with families eating ice cream, laughing endlessly in their plastic bibs.