Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
- Community Blog
City of Steel Churches
City of Steel Churches
Based on a true story.
Once upon a time in Downtown San Diego, They locked eyes.
They lived in a city of Sacred Temples.
A city of Funhouses.
A city of Steel Churches.
A city of pigment, and of needles.
On the eighth day of August, muggy and close, a day that made her wish for Winter and its cold, detached beauty, she passed the arcade and it blared with sweet, empty noise.
The noise of a claw machine that'll never give up those cheap stuffed animals.
By the time you finally win one, you'll have spent more money than you would need to buy one.
But it's the thrill, isn't it?
The thrill of thinking for three seconds that you're actually worth something because you pulled that stupid stuffed duck out of that machine.
But in the chaos of an arcade, you can lose your identity.
And more than anything, she wanted to be swallowed in that noise.
In that chaotic anticipation and the flashing lights.
So she paused. The sound of a skateboard swept past her with the smell of candyfloss, with the flicker of brown eyes. The eyes that killed what was left of her.
They lived in a city filled with the sound of broken glass, where the rain came down like crystals from a chandelier, brought down by hell's flames scratching, clawing for the heavens. The light of its neon flashes an array of noxious, epileptic colors. Scarlet, yellow, cyan. Fuchsia.
"Neon," From Greek, it translates to "Something New."
"And there is nothing new in this city." She told him during an impromptu staring contest. As he touched his black bangs to her forehead, close enough for a kiss, his coffee gaze bored into her eyes, scouring her Poker Face. What is he trying to find? Dreams? You don't want to see those. They're all...charred. Burnt until they turned to matte glitter. Dust. You can't tell which one's which. Of course she's never seen the Neon. Just photos. Same thing, right? Because during the twilight neon seizure she lays in the arms of Morpheus, the sound of shattered glass filtering into her mind, or lies turning her silent, wet eyes to Valhalla and pleading for a reason. For an explanation, an omen. Why do I have to feel this way? Maybe the neon really would be something new. All of those colors. Twilight would be something new, she's so used to roaming the concrete daylight. He calls after her: Are you coming to the show this weekend? With a small shrug, she shakes her head. Nah, I don't go to that many shows. OK, I'll see you whenever, then... (When will whenever turn into never?) And she's never been to a show. She just puts on her Poker Face and acts cool. If you get trapped in a room with too much Neon, you suffocate. You can't breathe Neon. Because it's chemically inert and all, you can't set it on fire, either. Neon's not as fun as people make it out to be. Neither are shows. She's never been, but she's seen photos. Which are the same, right? Don't photos capture it right?
The night is a stranger to her. At night she's in her house, safe and sound, and even in her dreams, bored out of her mind. Maybe he reads her the wrong way. As complex. As adventurous. Maybe he would be choked if he found out. Her mind is as complex as a rusted bear trap, baited with a cupcake and waiting for his sneaker to catch in it. ... I caught you! ... Do you still like me now that you know I'm a monster? Or maybe he's just pretending. Maybe they're both monsters. Maybe he's out to break something. A mind. A heart. A dream. But everything is already destroyed. It burned to the ground. Spontaneous combustion. Spontaneous cremation. If you want, you can step on the ashes. But everything collapsed, burned to the ground on its own.
Once upon a time, in Downtown San Diego.
More like this:
- Pega — Dec. 7, 2012
- Autumn's In Her Eyes (another Snippet) — Sept. 26, 2011
- Is the Sun In Your Eyes or Are You Just Avoiding Me? — April 5, 2007
- Jeremy Menning in Providence, Rhode Island — May 18, 2006
- A Local's Colors — March 30, 2000