Spooky Time

An irrelevant short story

I drove to work today, the view of the yellow road lines popped more than usual. They had just painted them. The lines were solid and bold, cutting the countryside in half. The lighting too, had achieved perfection. Endlessly dark rolling clouds, and the sun at my back, created a contrasty saturated image before me.

When I entered town my vision was treated to another odd sight. Cars. Cars parked everywhere. Then it hit me, it was homecoming. I somehow managed to push the endless photos and reminders I saw on facebook that morning from my mind. Those fall colors though? I should have remembered.

Homecoming is a most peculiar day. People, people everywhere. All out of context. All looking confused. I parked far away from work and had to travel through the campus. The north side of campus was deserted. I walked for minutes without seeing a soul. It wasn’t until I saw a guy in his 40s or 50s with a big mustache and dark glasses that I noticed this side of campus was a ghost town. As we passed I said, “Hello.” He looked at me but simply kept walking. I noticed the awkward manner in which I said hello. It stuck out since no one else was around and I hadn’t received a response from him. I sounded like one robot sending out beeps to communicate to another. I felt my soul hang like a flabby gel over my mechanical skeleton.

It made me happy. I felt relaxed. I felt at home in my body. I stopped by the library to pick up a book. “The Reasons of Love”, by Frankfurt. I was learning about human love.

As I approached the middle of campus I saw huge, cartoonish, buses. It reminded me that later that night I was helping with a loadout for, “Chance the Rapper”. I wasn’t too familiar with him. As I passed through the tour busses a group of guys, among them what I presumed to be Mr. Chance, looked at me in a most bizarre way. Some, as though I was doing something wrong. Perhaps threatening their existence. Others looked hopeful like I might ask for an autograph or something. I passed by without a word exchanged. Swarming nearby were pockets of production crew members smoking and/or using their phones.  Another day on the job for them, everything oddly in place.

As I crossed the street from the north side to the south side of campus, a pickup truck rounded the corner. From it I heard stereotypical American Indian calls, the kind you hear on old cartoons, and it grew louder and louder. A pickup truck filled to the brim with guys unaware of their racism. They were approaching an event.

They were all approaching an event. Well, they thought they were. This was homecoming. They were expecting to finally find a home. South campus was littered with people. All of them trying desperately to fit in while straining their necks searching. All of them looking so strange. Their smiles appeared awfully painful. With the hope from summer dwindling, they desperately tried to embrace the falling leaves. Pumpkin flavor, “We love it! We love it!”, they tried to convince themselves. They think maybe this is the year they finally find home.

As the people frantically make adjustments to their attire and their posture, the football game roars from the stadium. It’s been slowly increasing in volume since I’ve been walking. I see two kids, both under 10. They look odd, but only because the world around them is trying so hard that their organic-ness pops out at you.

The game will go on, the events will run into the night. As the hours pass they’ll somehow become both more lucid and confused. At some point, they will have a substance assisted existential break down beneath a single 25-watt bulb on their friend’s porch. They’ll transcend their manic urge to be human and define a home, and for a moment they’ll see it all. They’ll understand why the road lines popped so well this morning.

Taken with NEX-5n. October 28, 2014.

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