Journal Extracts

by Mac Tonnies

Harry S. Trumanís old house, at once incongruous and knowing. The interior has the clean-edged, untouched look of virtual reality. You must remain on the clear plastic pathway or else the sense of history will dissolve like so many discordant pixels.

A walk away, the RLDS Temple screws the heavens like something from a high-budget science fiction film (the imagined traceries of planet-bound rockets visible behind its steeple).

The inside of the place is cold, gifted with an austerity that approaches transcendence. Thin gray carpet, walls hewn from moonrock. Loud symbols rambling over the walls and floor: apocalyptic calligraphy.

#

Stripmalls seen from the highway, their signs lit yellow-white by concealed neon. They recede to the horizon, following the curves and clefts of the landscape like spinal columns defining the backs of ungainly creatures.

Encircling streets, snakes gnawing their tails, hula hoops spinning around the waist of some lithe, endlessly energetic suburban goddess.

I drive slowly, watching the speedometer practice its subtle divinations. I have nowhere to go. I surrender myself to the invitation of streetlights: lantern eyes that glow like small suns against the tarred sky.

#

The executive parkís manicured foliage holds the buildings in a soft chlorophyll embrace, like an out-of-place rain-forest strategically bereft of wildlife. Glass-skinned buildings loom above the trees, microcosms of office life and reflection. I feel a happy nausea in the pit of my stomach, as if Iím about to fall from a height into welcoming waters (a perverse nostalgia as misplaced as the vegetation).

#

The bowling alley is the core of a postmodern religion: insular, protective of its own, endowed with its own smells and rituals.

I feel like a complete alien here, a bacterium rejected by a form of peristalsis. They want me gone. Or dead. Iíve intruded on a sacred rite; I suppose Iíd be angry, too.

The laneís electronics jam and weíre forced to sit on precarious plastic chairs for half an hour while uniformed technicians meander among the pins, walking so that their feet are planted in adjacent gutters.

Thereís a girl at a nearby lane thatís fascinated me since the first night, when the initiates laid down the rules that would govern the league. Her bowling is a casual dance. After following through, she gazes disinterestedly at the pins the way someone looks at the moon, numbed by its familiarity.

Then a guileless shrug as she walks back to her group and twines her arms around a dirty, loutish man that might be nineteen and might be thirty.

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