Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Bed Sheets are White by Roger Leatherwood

        The terrorists lurked outside our consciousness and we waited. And we prepared.
 We looked after government buildings. Public places. Plazas. Trains. Hubs of industry and commerce. We walked to work. Drove and played cards. We protected it all from the parking lots. The world series. United nations. The white house. The king of spain. Buckingham palace. The queen mary. World trading company. Prince albert in a can.
 And there were months and then there were years and it seemed that the threat had been choked off, eliminated, robbed of oxygen. Waylaid and predicted, undermined and subterfuged.
 Until the bomb in the local fair. Not well attended, only 910 people.

Yet they were locals, unimportant and all of the families tied to the land, to the place, the region. The very salt and philosophy and blood of that earth, middle america, for generations. It was a scar that was deep and could not be clayed over or shined up by any political speech or spin doctors from Hollywood. Blood ran on the pages. And then the explosion on an opening night in cleveland for the superman movie. Again not a center of commerce or politics, only regular people, about 6000 of them because there were 20 theatres, 8 with 300, another 5 were 400 and the two large ones were 900 with 2 small ones it was still more than the worldtradecenter years ago and it was "the darkest" and "the most" and "the cowardly."
 The terrorists figured out that their target was not large symbols of the west. They could never topple large enough statues, symbols and granite and empty of the ability to inflict pain if damaged regardless of the lives that may be lost in collateral damage. No they figured out that surgical strikes to critical organs, townships, middle america, the very fabric of every day life could survive the trauma of a bomb in a subway in NY, any government computer server building that linked the IRS to the pay sites - that would never be allowed to go down even if it went down they would fake something. Make the people think things were okay, everything still running, nothing was broken. Repair. Pay your taxes. But when the fair blew up, hot dogs fried in their hands, children burned on horses in the stable, rollercoaster cabs melted to glass and runny aluminum, our boys turned to ash in their cars . . . that broke the back of the union.
 Funny was the bomb had gone seriously off course, aimed for the latin quarter in new orleans, recently in the news and apparently a center of culture, realization and symbol of all that was hedonistic excessive satanic and good about US. The missiles ended up past east st. louis, at east alton in the suburbs in which the people had been laid off when the ash and tire factories closed, 80% unemployment and most had moved or been driving for 20 or 50 miles to other jobs the other side in missouri. Goddamn government.

The explosion unbuilt the bridge and the blowback ash half empty extended to house apts as well as lofts and offices and the people downtown, in the converted antique shops and quik-and-runs realized their future was longer and darker than they had been led to believe, that they were on their own, that there was no god or he was looking the other way for the foreseeable next few years and they found us they have us we have no roof over our heads and even the theatres weren't safe. And in that dark night there was nothing to latch onto and the hours flew clicking slowly by aiming only at the dawn lit by the static on the tv in the other room. Sound down, another day and the orange of the sun under the naked trees another blinding report of surviving, wondering and shivering in the dark corners of the mornings to come.

And in the murky holes of midnight we grabbed the sheets of doubt and our eyes tried to adjust in a vagrant light. No moon. We wet the bed and my shame was hidden in the dark. The twisted cotton kept us company in the thinning night and the blurred shapes distracted us from our regrets. In the wet dawn we saw the bedsheets were still white.

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