13.4 – A Story About You

You have a new job now. Every day except Sunday, you drive out into the sand wastes and there you find two trucks. You move wooden crates from one truck to another while a man in a suit silently watches. It is a different man each time. Sometimes the crates tick. Mostly, they do not. When you are done, the man in the suit hands you an amount of cash, also different each time, and you go home. It is the best job you’ve ever had.

Except, today, it was different. You moved the crates. The man in the suit, a stranger, watched. But then, as had never happened before, the man in the suit received a phone call. He walked off at some distance to take it. “Yes, sir!” he said, and “No, sir!” Also he made hawk shrieking sounds. It wasn’t terribly interesting. You moved crates. But then, an impulse, an awful impulse, came over you, and for no other reason than that you are trapped by the freedom to do anything in this life, you took one of the crates, and put it in your trunk.

By the time the man came back from his phone call, you were done with your job. He gave you the money – it was nearly five hundred dollars today, the second highest it had ever been – and you drove home with the crate in your trunk.

When you got home, you took the crate into your trailer and left it in the kitchen. The crate did not make a ticking sound. It made no sound at all. Nothing made a sound except you, breathing in and breathing out. You cooked dinner – you always cooked dinner – and the red light on the tower blinked on and off in your peripheral vision, a message that was there and then wasn’t, and that you could never quite read. You wondered how long it would take them to miss the crate. You did not wonder who they were. Some mysteries aren’t questions to be answered, but just the kind of opaque fact, a thing which exists to be not known.

Which brings us to now, to this story, this story about you. You are listening to the radio. The announcer is talking about you. And then you hear something else, a guttural howl out of the desert distance, and you know that the crate’s absence has been discovered. The crate. Well, it sits, that’s all, on the kitchen floor. That’s all. It’s warm, warmer than the air around it. It smells sharp and earthy, like freshly ground cinnamon. And when you put your ear against the rough warm wood, you hear a soft humming, an indistinct melody. It does not appear to be difficult to open. All you would need to do is remove a few nails.

You do not open it.

14.8 – The Man In The Tan Jacket

Hey, kids and parents! Time once again for our Children’s Fun Fact Science Corner! Today, we are exploring common birds and their meanings. An eagle indicates that an important phone call is impending. A sparrow says that you should beware the sea, and sell any stocks invested in food-based companies. A pigeon means that your mother has died, or that all is well. It’s a bit uncertain. A hummingbird tells us that the physical constants of the universe are slowly degrading, and may someday shift, invalidating the laws of physics and instantly wiping out the universe as we know it while simultaneously creating an entirely new universe in a single transcendent moment of genocide and genesis. As for hawks, well. No one knows what hawks mean, or if they are real. Have you ever even seen a hawk? Of course not. No one has.

This has been our Children’s Fun Fact Science Corner!

15.8 – Street Cleaning Day

From time to time, listeners, I like to bring a little education to our show. Throw out some interesting facts or mind fuel. Today I’d like to share some fascinating facts about clouds. Clouds are made up of [BEEP]. Rain clouds are formed when [BEEP] air. When the density of the humid air, a.k.a. the cloud, becomes [BEEP], that’s when it rains. Lightning is [BEEP]. And it’s important to [BEEP] can kill you, or at least cause you a great deal of body-altering pain and regret. But take some time to stop and look at the clouds. They are beautiful, wondrous creations!

Wait. I’ve just been handed a piece of red paper by one of the Sheriff’s Secret Police officers.

[whispering] I can tell that’s what he was because of his short cape, blow dart chest belt, and tight leather balaclava.

Dear listeners, I’ve been told to inform you that you are to stop looking at the clouds immediately. Stop knowing about the clouds. Intern Stacy tells me in my headset here that they’ve also been censoring my broadcast. Well, I back our public protectors, and if they say to stop knowing about whatever it was was talking about, then I’ll stop knowing about it. Let’s go now to the sounds of predatory birds.

[cawing, screeching, hooting]

19A.6 – The Sandstorm

And now, a look at financial news.

A fallow wheat field, grey sky, cut by black Vs of black birds. There is a child, dragging a hatchet. His eyes cast down. His eyes tight. His eyes white and red and superfluous. He knows not what he sees, but he knows what is there. A single black winged beast, beak cracked, feathers rotting, alights roughly on the child’s shoulder. They stop. the bird picks at the cartilage of the boy’s ear as if biting secrets into it. The boy groans, not unpleasantly. Heavy slow clouds roll and rise, starkly contrasted against the flickering daguerreotype hills, which stoically keep the poisonous rains at bay.

A sudden little river, partially walled by palsied shafts of grain, rolls by. The boy walks into it. He bends forward. His blank eyes stare into his reflection. Neither he nor his mirror knows the other is there, but the bird, the bird knows. The bird cackles, or perhaps cries. Even the bird is uncertain. The boy takes a palm full of the dark water. Most of it runs out through his long, zigzagging fingers. He licks the remainder from his dusty skin.

A sound: like thunder, like drums, like steps. The boy turns and hurls his hatchet behind him. The bird flies up and away. There is a hideous thump. The boy knows not what he has hit, but that it has been wounded. He waits for its retort.

This has been financial news.