“Read to me.” Moonie—glimmering green eyes, pudgy cheeks, blush ripened lips, desirous, the naiveté of youth in her expression, a brief blossom; and, even now, a hint of weathering, if the light hits just right, a frown forming, a settling into a pallid dullness from defeat, a weathered soul. We are side by side,, legs outstretched and entangled, on the side of the Scribe 2-A Work Building on Luxembourg Avenue, shrouded by a tall row of arborvitaes.She hands me a small white book, 8 x 5 or so, a short collection from an anonymous author, the image on the front is faded along with the title. The only visible letters are the initials, CNB.
“Where did you get this?”
You should stay away from the junk yards. You might get bit by a stray dog or cat. And if DEF finds out you have a book, they could shoot you on the spot. You know that right?”
“What are they going to do to me? I can’t even read for God’s sakes.”
“I’ll teach you. Let me teach you, Moonie. You’re too smart to be illiterate.”
“No fucking way. I can read enough to get by. I can’t read this abstract stuff.”
She looks down, fanning the pages, her expression dour, defeated, so unlike Moonie, the Moonie I know with the spirit of a hundred wild mustangs. “Just read, okay?” She lays back, puts her hands behind her head.
“Sweet, sweet fall, fall of birds & other animals, tonight, no liberty, no pass to the combat zone or drunk at McSorley’s or a wide open highway: I have had all that, even a cowboy hat from Cheyenne & Roaming with a friend, looking for elk & ex-Nazis, even warm June smell of blue flowers moist as grass or little tits of the black widow spider: only Herodotus to read and the sniffles, banging out these dead or live rhythms…”
“Jesus this guy was brilliant, huh?”
“I’m not done.”
“No more poetry. I want to know about reality, you, what happened in the East.”
“Like are you East people really all inbreeds with so much massive cell destruction that you’re defects and dangerous to society? Because that’s what they are saying about you in the West.”
“Oh, Lord. You know far too much. I’ll have to kill you.” I grab her; my jaw clamps her neck. I growl. She laughs. I love when Moonie laughs. I love Moonie more than myself.
“But seriously—tell me. I want to know.”
“What the fuck happened after Esther.”
“Fix your star first and then—
“And then what?” She grabs the inside of my leg and squeezes. I feel it-- a sharp pang of desire.
“Well, we can do that instead, I suppose—“
“Oh, no you don’t. I want to know. So, talk first and then maybe we can have some fun.”
“Yes, Holy Jesus, just get on with it.”
“Just check it for me. Remember last week, what happened?”
“Oh, you mean that son of a bitch Digital Enforcement Fuck who told us we couldn’t take a walk in the afternoon hours?”
“He heard us, Moonie. Thank God that DEF officer didn’t hear enough, but you need to make sure the points are okay.”
“This baby will protect us—at least 10 feet or so.” She pats her chest.
“But it needs to be on right.”
Moonie moves her fingers up to her mantle, pinned on the inside of her shirt. “Yup, she’s good. Now talk!”
I felt her elbow jab my side. “Okay, silence whippersnapper. I don’t know what you want me to say. I mean, poetry is one thing. The other—well, it’s hard to talk about it.”
“Forgive me Mr. sentimental baby, but I think I’m entitled to know. So you’re going to have to tell me or I’ll bite your arm off.” She holds my arm against her mouth and opens wide. I pull it away and laugh. I crave her like sun or water.
“Okay, okay. First of all, we didn’t expect it. Or if we did--if we did— no one said it. I imagine the scientists knew and the government officials knew. Someone knew. But your average Joe, like me or you, we didn’t know that the big one was brewing, one that would flatten us, change our whole lifestyle permanently.
“How do you know they didn’t do it?
“Change the weather systems? Lots of people say it was DEF that did it.”
I watch her pluck the grass now, blade by blade—long blades, unusually firm and thick at the roots. The new weather created hardy, plush grass.
“Are you planning on eating that?”
“You’re avoiding me.”
“Hm? Well, yes—sure. Anything is possible with DEF. That was a suspicion for some time.”
“So what the heck were you guys doing then? How come all you brilliant people, all you artists and poets and scientists, couldn’t stop them?”
Because, my sweet Moonie, before, it hit we were slovenly, insatiable freaks; we had knowledge at our fingertips; we became lazy, inept, slobs, weak; we filled up with as much as we could get, fast, while the storms ate into our budgets left trillion dollar deficits. But still no one could have predicted Esther. And it was at our most pitiful moment, after she hit, that we lost everything,
“Freaky shit. I was outside playing hopscotch when she hit. You ever hear of hopscotch?