By Arthur Davis
I come to the park, to this same bench, once every year. I don’t live in this city, and I’m not sure I know what it’s called, or why or how I get here. Sometimes there is someone else on my bench. And I don’t like it when they look at me. A few are men and they all have mustaches.
“Hey, hot green potatoes and spicy creamed fleggs?”
I shake my head. Vendors ply through the park offering free food that looks as alien as they do. They all have the same face, are the same height, and wear gaudy military uniforms complete with clumsy rows of metals dangling precariously from their tunic.
I’m hungry and thirsty.
I look down to check my twitching fingers. Waiting.
I recognize several people walking along the path that surrounds what has to be a dozen acres of open field. I recognize a few baseball diamonds in this broad enclosure containing a dirt-strewn area where you could play a form of volleyball. Three players on one side and a dozen players on the other. They use three volleyballs. Cool.
“Marcus,” a young woman asks as she comes over to where I am sitting. She is beautiful. Striking. I shake my head. She walks up to the next man and repeats, “Marcus?”
I’ve been sitting for about an hour, long enough for the transformation to complete itself.
I raise my hands to my face. I have bad eyes and need to get close to make out the details. “Finally,” I mumble proudly. “Ten perfect thumbs.”
I am delighted with the outcome, get up and leave.
I came upon a landscape of homes devastated by a tornado. Tortured shambles of broken chairs, tables, dressers, clothing, mattresses everywhere. Shattered dreams littered the horizon. A few dogs were barking, yapping in terror. There were no people. At least alive. I did pass several bodies a mile back. An old man sporting a radiant white moustache. I paused. Impressed. A couple who had tied themselves together in a love knot, knowing their end was coming.
I don’t understand. How do you love someone like that?
What if one lives and the other dies and you can’t undo the love knot? Love knots are rare and quite expensive. They express the ultimate commitment.
I wish I had someone to buy a love knot for. Preferably someone without a moustache.
A young couple comes running up to me. They are dressed in bright colored clothing that has an aromatic scent to it. Earthy. Woods. Smoky. Herbal. I’m just guessing. Their clothing looks new. I haven’t seen new clothing in years. They both have green eyes. I am suspicious of them.
“The sky is broken,” the girl says urgently, then gets on one knee and prays in a foreign language.
The more she prays, the more I think the language is not foreign, but made up. That’s impressive, I consider. I could never do that. How can she? I don’t like her.
“We saw it happen. It’s terrible,” her partner adds, shuttering in disbelief.
“What do you think it means?” I have been asking that question for days. No matter the question or issue. “What do you think it means?”
They turn away and continue running until they disappear over the horizon, or over the edge of the planet. That has become a real problem, as all planets have recently been proven to be flat.
“I don’t believe you.” Olivia said yesterday.
“Why would I lie?”
“Because you always do. That’s who you are.”
“That’s harsh,” I replied, focusing on the handsome image in the mirror and trying not to stare at her breasts. I need a shave.
“Why do you call me?” Olivia answers.
“I like you. I’ve always liked you.”
“You lie and make up foolish tales to convince people that they’re real.”
She’s right. More importantly, who would believe that it’s taken me a year, maybe longer, to be able to levitate myself from my bed to the ceiling of my bedroom. “You’re beautiful.”
Olivia shakes her head in disgust, as she has done whenever we meet.
“Edward, you know I love you. I will always love you.”
I’ve kept a list of women who claim they love me and a longer, more detailed, list of those who walked away, disappointed in too many ways.
We have a strange, intense relationship. Every day I like her, she often dislikes me. After a few days pass, the emotions switch and I don’t like her, and she calls a dozen times a day.
If I figure out why I am so unlikeable, maybe I can get Olivia, real or not, to like me every day. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Spectacular? No, I realized. She would be too intense, and I wouldn’t have the energy left to levitate myself off my bed.
I can’t have both and continue toward my ceiling with renewed vigor.
I decided to retire from fly-tracking. After forty-three years, it’s enough.
I don’t have the energy for it and have become slothful and impatient.
I’ve made my reputation and a considerable fortune tracking some of the most dangerous flies on the planet. I have saved villages, towns, some cities from the curse of unending storms of the most deadly of the species. I have saved countless lives and earned global recognition and appreciation.
Flies are a common pest around the world, with more than 120,000 kinds found globally. Flies are the second largest group of pollinators after the Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and relatives).
Besides being food for birds and other species, pollinating is the only value they bring. Now, with enhanced AI drone flies, and greater global detection technology, we can isolate, exterminate, or manipulate populations.
Still, the real reason is that I have come to enjoy being slothful and impatient, and what energy I have is dedicated to growing a radiant white mustache.
* * *
Arthur Davis was featured in a collection, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received the 2018 Write Well Award for excellence in short fiction and, twice nominated, received Honorable Mention in The Best American Mystery Stories 2017. He originated The Armed Forces Anthology™ which is a mini-volume of his stories available free to veterans and those currently serving in the military on his website, http://www.TalesofOurTime.com. Additional background at the Poets & Writers Organization and Amazon Author Central.