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Default by Robert Cole | flash fiction | #thesideshow

Robert Cole

You do your scrimmage with God because people live out their days like a lunch with someone auspicious. You want to be Gandhi’s crossbow but you know you cannot. You have a cellphone and job. You have memories and other problems. There is so much that won’t be altered. The pennies around your house are starting to make you nervous. You’re in control therefore you’re afraid.

Art will feign the absolution it wants because it has to. Carthage is primed for a poured over marriage as well. It’s as if art holds us back from nothing will happen. It’s lauding clay during rain. An insurance claim still wet on the thigh. Pageantry means food is for peacetime and we are thankful, abundance.

He explains all this with the tide threshing up, filling the docks around us. I fling my arms around another concrete piling and try to understand what this man is saying.

It’s something about how people are like ‘blades of grass’ that don’t do anything. How abstract art doesn’t do anything and essays let people die. I could look at him and see eyes whirling like the goat lemur lord has come.

In the Cathedral of Sand, he says, fools live there and die there like fools except every ration comes with a sticker. I think about places where the wind doesn’t matter. Eventually illness derails us. Financial ruin because we saw movies. Another sticker to put on the rack.

I don’t know what to believe inside the crater. Rich people harass our daughters, run amuck. There would be no women, he says. Money, abundance, other decoys. There’s fire in bathrooms. Deflated hallways cutting down trees. All the birds escaping resentment. The rich in boats thinking it’s cute. They will have their nets ready when it suits them and they will always be too late. It’s the credo of business, he says.

Soon after this we begin to drown. We drown in the usual sort of way in medium-brackish water. Some stray vegetation floating in there. There is this desperate, final bark for help. This help never came in life but it would have to come now, just this once.

Nothing happens. The world goes on. An hour passes. Someone opens a beer covered in sand. We are plucked from the water and heaved onto shore. Anything of value is taken. The rich lick these items and put them away. Our bodies are burned in a hole.

A woman in sunglasses pees standing up, looking intently east. To see people like this and think nothing more complex than cleaving into a pancake with an axe. To finalize and change something, to really any end at all.

These spirals we think about make it seem that we are only as great as the problems we have. There may be any number of people so preoccupied with other people it never occurs to them that they’re dead. It’s possible it happened to me. There’s this idea that whenever nature makes a mistake like that, it doesn’t have the energy to rectify it. Nature is strong, but it does not care.


About the Author:

Robert Cole Robert Cole is among the winners of the 2013 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition and his writing has appeared in Connotation Press, Arsenic Lobster, Miscreant Magazine, Menacing Hedge, Jet Fuel Magazine, Dreginald, Tarpaulin Sky, Sein und Werden and other journals. He is the coauthor of Mutant Neuron Codex Swarm (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015) and co-founder of Tallow Eider Quarterly, an online journal of art and writing. He currently lives in Olympia, Washington.