fractured constellations

I walked to the edge of the roof and looked over. We were two and a half stories up. I looked at the full moon….”

 

by kurt eisenlohr

 

“How you doing, bro?”

Burt Lack, a work buddy of mine, was sitting on the roof of my apartment building with me. We had eaten an eighth of mushrooms about thirty minutes prior to climbing the tree that allowed us to get onto the roof.

“I feel sort of weird.”

“You’ll be feeling even weirder soon.”

“No, I feel weird about being up here. I feel too visible.”

“Shit, no ones looking up here.”

“It feels fucked up to me.”

“Oh, relax, man. Check out those stars.”

I looked at the stars. Orion was up there, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper. There certainly were more, but Orion and the Dippers were the only constellations I had ever been able to identify. The moon was low on the horizon, red and swollen.. Burt was wearing a trucker hat with the word POLICE printed above the bill.

“I’m worried about how I’m going to pay my rent this month,” I told him.

“You’ll make it.”

“I don’t know…”

“Did you see that shooting star?”

“What shooting star?”

“You didn’t see that shooting star?”

“No, I didn’t see it.”

“It was cool. I can’t believe you missed that.

“I think I’m going to end up homeless one day.”

“Oh, come on, man!”

“Homeless and alone; it’s inevitable.”

“Dude, you’re tripping. It’s all parts and parcel to the whole.”

“Which hole?”

“What?”

“I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“You’re tripping, dude.”

I walked to the edge of the roof and looked over. We were two and a half stories up. I looked at the full moon.

I walked back to where Burt was sitting.

“I have to get off of this building!” I told him.

“We just got here.”

“I’m going down!”

“Just chill, man; it’s nice up here.”

“Where the hell is that tree we climbed?”

“Over there somewhere.” He made a vague motion with his hand.

It was dark. I took baby steps toward the tree. I grabbed a branch. I stood there. Then I swung on in.

“OH JESUS GOD!”

Ninety minutes later, I was on solid ground again.

***

I went back to my apartment. Everything looked crazy in there. Even the cats looked crazy. I picked up the phone and dialed 911.

“Hello?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Hello? This is 911.”

I was paralyzed.

“Is this an emergency? Hello?”

I hung up. I moved toward the stereo, put some music on, and paced around the living room for a while. A voice came out of the speakers.

“The strangest thing happened to me on the way to outer space today.”

I walked over to one of the speakers and stared at it.

“Just let me love you,” the voice sang.

I stood there staring until the music stopped. I felt very peaceful, very benevolent.

My cats were staring at me.

“Come on, babies, it’s time to go to bed.”

We crawled into bed and situated ourselves.

Suddenly, there was a tremendous pounding at the door. I leapt up and sent the cats flying.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Burt, open up!”

I opened the door and Burt walked in; his eyes were all fucked up.

“I THINK I SAW GOD UP THERE!” he screamed.

“Up where?”

“ON THE ROOF! I THINK I SAW GOD UP THERE!”

“Keep your voice down. I have neighbors.”

He walked over to the phone and began dialing.

“Is this an emergency?” I asked.

He put the phone down. He looked at Kook, he looked Bug. He looked at me.

“I have to get out of here!” he said.

“Time is a perfect zero,” I told him, “something to push your finger through.”

He bolted for the door, leaving it wide open in his wake.

Kook made a break for it, but I caught him before he could escape.

“You don’t want to go out there,” I told him.

 

Originally published:
Issue Thirty-One
June 2004

 

(illustration: kurt eisenlohr)


Kurt Eisenlohr is a painter, writer and bartender living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to illustrations contributed to all issues of Smokebox his poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Asylum, Verbal Abuse, River Styx, Another Chicago Magazine, Cokefish, Decoy, Way Station, and STOVEPiPER. His chapbook, Under Hand and Over Bone was published by Alpha Beat Press in 1994. His art has been shown in many galleries and is featured on the Future Tense Books web site. More stories and art can be viewed in the Vault of Smoke.

 

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