In May of 2004 a group of people from my office organized a company wide art show. Being as we’re in the publishing business and surrounded by scores of talented artists and writers, the chance for all these people to display their talents was just a great, logical idea. The theme of the show was “Rebirth.” It consisted mostly of art pieces, but there were a few of us that submitted writing pieces. I think all the writing was poetry, with the exception of mine, which was this:
He’d been waiting in this line for so long, he wasn’t sure how much longer he could take it. He looked at his watch. Yep. Just as he thought, he’d been in line for 32 days. That explained the beard.
Aquarius Burley was a patient man. But his patience was reaching critical mass. Plus, he wasn’t wearing the right shoes for this. Fortunately, the pain in his legs gave way to numbness. He had to glance down occasionally to make sure his lower extremities were, in fact, still there.
At some point during his wait, Aquarius noticed a floor tile with a crack in it that resembled the western border of the state of California. He was sure there was some sort of significance in this, but he’d be damned if he could figure out what it was. He did find it a little disturbing that he had the time to stare at the floor for so long. But what he found even more disturbing was the fact that he’d actually moved backwards, away from the California crack. What kind of line moves backwards, he wondered.
Aquarius felt his head start to swim. His brain began to feel like it had been squeezed into a tupperware container – one meant for a couple cheese slices, or half a hot dog, but not a brain. Aquarius felt himself withering. He was certain he was near the end.
Just in front of him, a fresh-faced woman said, “You don’t mind if I just jump in front of you do you?�? Aquarius had lost the capacity to speak about seven days ago. In his mind he screamed, “Of course I mind, you self serving trollop!�? But his voice was paralyzed.
The only thing Aquarius could do was stare at the ground. He noticed that someone must’ve spilled some water in front of him, as there was a small puddle at his feet. It was only when the person behind him bumped him that Aquarius realized that the waterfall of drool cascading down his chin was the source of the puddle.
Where was that California coastline?
In a last ditch effort to reclaim himself, Aquarius mustered all the energy he could. He tried to flex his atrophied muscles. He tried to remember a time when he was able-bodied. For his effort, all he got was a soft PPFFFTT. Aquarius’s digestive tract betrayed him, and the trollop in front of him began to regret her decision to jump ahead in line.
The only one of Aquarius’s five senses that still seemed to be functioning was his sight. But then again, maybe that was failing as well, as he could not see anyone in front of him. This must be it, he thought. This must be the end. He’d lived a good life, he thought. Then he remembered the time he got his thumb stuck in that revolving door at that one hotel. That hurt. He tried to avoid those things.
The room began to spin before it started to go dark. He could feel himself slumping to the ground. Suddenly, in the darkness he could see a bright light. He wanted to follow it. It looked so peaceful.
Before he could begin his journey into the unknown, Aquarius Burley heard a voice. It was his salvation speaking. That voice became his strength.
“NEXT!�? the voice bellowed.
Aquarius leapt to his feet. His faculties regained.
“Box of Marlboro Mediums, please,�? he said.
And suddenly, all was right with the world.