Monday, May 7, 2012

Begun but unfinished fiction #003: Point-no-point

©2008 mykl g sivak

(Written in one unfinished draft, early December 2008, on a tiny Blackberry Curve keypad, while lying in bed late at night)

Jess slept. I stood by the window. Watched the new waves. The new waters. The new Atlantic, whose waters and waves now raked and licked our rented back yard, that once had been on a hilltop, a quarter mile from the sound, but now was at the coast's brink. No one could say where it would stop.

I looked past roofs, half-submerged condominiums that once had been beachfront but now were wave swept. The new Atlantic dissembled them, lick-by-lick, plank-by-plank.

Through binoculars, I could see Long Island; or, more properly, where the Island had been. Now it was a long bar, all but invisible, save the smokestacks, water towers, and other taller structures that reached up like phantom towers from the surface of the black churning waters. Here and there, a hillside remained, trees and grass and stones and one or two homes that had been high enough to avoid being swallowed when the hungry waters rose. It was a strange surreal thing. I felt like the end of time, the passing of things human, but really I knew better. I was aware of Long Island's relative insignificance, the ultimate unimportance of the Connecticut shoreline. The places had been defined by their Manhattan connections, the places where New York professionals weekended, or summered or slept. The places had led to the miscategorization of the region, as a place of wealth and opulence. With them gone, perhaps the truer core remained, a core of effluence and poverty. Some of Bridgeport had sunk, but its worst ghettos remained. 

Jess slept. I sat in the armchair I had placed in our bedroom, sipped a cherry coke and watched the waves churn in the gray a.m. She had always wanted a house at the shore; that's ironic. When it seemed like the ice sheet was about to go, we had made the joke. When it started to slide into the sea, we made it again. We made the joke as we drove to the Litchfield hills fleeing the rising tide. In the motel room, as we watched the waters boil and sweep over Long Island vineyards and potato fields, we made it again.

"Let's do it," I said in the motel bed, so she could hear in the bathroom.
"Let's not and say we did," she said back over the cable reporter.

I watched her reflection in the wall mirror; she was partially obscured by the door. She rubbed soap across her stubbled legs, dragged my razor down in long unbroken strokes from knee to ankle, drawing blood with each motion; it ran down from the nicks in arterial patterns. I felt the urge to storm into that yellow bathroom, step full-clothed into the bath and take her, lick the blood from her legs, but instead I sat there on the bed, watched the news, watched Long Island sink like a shitty Atlantis.

We retuned before the evacuation had been lifted, traveled sneaky at midnight, sans headlights, through secret roads via Industrial parks. I’d bought an old bolt-cutter from an antiques man for the trip and used it the gain passage through chained gates and drives. It wasn't easy to pass south beyond the railroad, the underpasses and viaducts dipped low, most filled by water no less than five feet or so deep. Every big storm someone died that way, drowned in their car on Main Street as Metro North thundered on above them.

We drove across the tracks, bypassed the viaducts by steering the old Cherokee up a hillside, even though the trains were still running on an intermittent schedule. For the moment it was thrilling, but when it became clear that the Cherokee's large tires would pass over the track without trouble, that no train would barrel toward us as we passed, the thrill subsided into a strange disappointment. In that moment, I began to wonder why we were in such a rush to return, what we were going back to.

The neighborhood's electricity was off. I broke into a neighbor's garage, borrowed their gas-fueled generator. That evening, Jess and I stalked the neighborhood swam in pools even though it was late September, jumped on trampolines. We broke into one of the wealthier homes, lit a candle and drank bottles of what we figured was expensive wine.

Jess spotted the police cruiser spot shining through the windows on the next street, and we blew out the candle, and watched crouching from the window, drunk giggling, as it finally made its way past us, shined its light right in our eyes without spotting us there.

The generator was loud. I put it in the basement; left the bilco doors open wide for fumes. We ran it only intermittently, to charge the fridge with cold air, to run the electric range and water heater. It was an enjoyable lapse of time.

We slept days mostly, wandered and pillaged at night. Raccoons and feral cats would watch us queerly; seemingly surprised by our presence, as if they accepted that humankind had left them finally, given back the land they had taken. But soon the waters halted and the ban was lifted.

When the people began returning, slow at first, but then increasing, we tried to remain hidden. We kept the Cherokee in the garage, where it had been. But times when I would come in contact with a neighbor, they would seem suspicious, as if somehow they could tell it was we who had invaded their homes, drank their booze, stole their electronic devices.

Jess was unscathed, invoked the "law of the sea," but I was nervous.
"You're paranoid," she said. "They can't prove a damn thing."

One morning we found a jet ski that had washed up at high tide behind the toolshed. We put on wetsuits and galoshes, filled the tank and rode it out through the violent chop. The early autumn sun was high, and the sky was broad, blotted occasionally with high tall clouds. Jess clung to my back as we sped over the surface, first past copulas and ham radio towers, then buoys and lobster floats, bouncing crazy over the high Atlantic waves. It felt like I would lose control, that we would flip and crash into the cooling waters, sink to the bottom beside all the sunken houses, but we didn't. From land, police sirens stuttered and wailed. House fires raged and it seemed as if society's remnants were beginning to break down.

In the distance I could make out the shapes of Coast Guard patrol boats. I feared that they had spotted us, but I sped on, out toward submerged Long Island, toward a pair of tall stacks. It was not long before we reached them.

I circled the stacks, revved the jet skis engine. Through the brown, rainbow-slicked water I could see the sunken plant. Soon the Coast Guard boat was upon us, and I told Jess to hold tight. I felt her arms grip my chest; "go fast," she said, her words warm on my cold wet ears.

As I sped past the boat's hull, I heard a report like a shotgun blast sound. "Stop and turn off your engine," a loudspeaker voice commanded. I looked back at Jess and she shrugged. I did as the voice said.

They took us onboard, said we were dangerous, impounded the Jet Ski, then dropped us off at the Connecticut coast with a warning. That night Jess fucked me for the first time in a long time, then fell asleep naked in my arms. It was a while before I could fall asleep. My heart raced with adrenaline, from the Jet Ski and sex. I felt reborn, as if everything that had ever held me back was slipping away before my eyes. That the very society that had kept me pegged immobile was disintegrating. While the rest of humanity struggled to retain a weak grasp on what they had, I was soaring, unchained from the things that had bound me, that had stifled my development. I felt alone prepared for the new realty that faced us. But in the back of my mind I sensed that the lapse was only temporary, and sooner or later, stronger wills would overcome. I vowed to get the most of things while it lasted.

The following Monday, the news reported that the world economy collapsed. Riots had broken out in every major city, and many minor ones worldwide, and the government declared martial law.

I felt a serge of electricity move through my being. I grabbed Jess in my arms, kissed her hard.

"Things are starting to crumble," I said. "We'll have to be smart now. Use our heads. We best devise a plan, or else we'll be no better off than the rest of the assholes."

The water route was risky, given patrol boats, but it seemed a safe bet than heading inland through the masses. Ultimately, we had no choice be to head inland, but we would travel by water as far as it would take us.

Winter was approaching, so that would complicate things. Food might be hard to come by, as might heat and fuel. The National Guard was patrolling the streets, telling people to stay indoors.

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