SpaceBrew Malty Musings from Space

A Welcome Rain

It would seem that all life has come to a standstill in this drab parsed land we call the flats. There are no trees, just dust. No water lets, just empty, dry barren dirt that once flourished with green effervescence. The cracked thirsty earth stretches as far as my weak eyes can see, and without the full strength of the sun, this distance is spanned twice over by the sounds of the howling wind. Clinging to my thread-bare bag and its dwindling contents of basic sustenance, I grit my teeth against the dry wind, my lips chapped and burning, and my eyes fiery red from the dry dust. Ahead lies what looks to be a tower, but only its silhouette present against the dark red sun. My feet like broken pendulums, I trudge up the rocky trail, shadowed by the dark, lurking precipices high above. I can see only that which is just ahead of me now, and it’s finally getting dark.

The sounds of the wind seem to be backing down ever so slightly. As I glimpse at the trek that lies ahead, the sun says its final words and melts beyond the desert landscape, big as a world in the sky. With darkness rolling in, all sound and motion suddenly ceases. I can hear nothing now but my dry raspy breath, and the beating of my tired heart.

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Fear of a Silent Elevator

Have you ever noticed the silence that fills an elevator when more than one stranger boards together? A nervous tension is evident in the air, and it’s like a vow of silence would be breached if someone were to open his mouth for a simple, “hi”. Why is this? In most cases, if you pass someone on the street, a simple nod, or a “hey, what’s up?” is usually in order. So why does this not carry over into a crowded elevator? It is beyond me. It seems the strangers around you would rather not even look directly at you. Everyone plays the quiet game, and stands as still as possible, staring at his shoes. An occasional glance at the floor indicator is the only sign of life among these passengers.

I have to ride the elevators to the fifth floor every day on my way to my office. As a rule of good measure, I generally try to start up some weird ass off-the-wall conversation, just to break some ice, as well as to observe people’s reactions. You would be amazed at how shy these people are. They treat everything you say like a yes or no question. I have been known to bring up such conversations as “Did you hear about the bicyclist on the freeway this morning?” or “What ever happened to that baby that was trapped in the elevator last week?” It really doesn’t matter what I ask. I sometimes ask the same question for a week. And since I never forget a face, I can tell if I have used it on them before.

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So this is April?

This story may seem a little out of place amidst the last few columns I’ve written on the site, but I didn’t just write it. I wrote it back in 1996, shortly after it all came to an end. It begins in April. April 13, 1994.

I was sitting in a park. In the middle of downtown Dallas, cool weather, cool shades and cool breeze. The sun was so bright that I could hardly see anything. But it wasn’t hot. It was in fact, quite cool out. But it really felt nice. Middle of April, sitting on this bench watching the fountain come on, then go off and the mist kind of disappears into the cool April air. It was so pleasant. I was waiting on someone to come out of a meeting. It was actually kind of a long wait.

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