Friday, February 15, 2008

Oppression by Keith Giles

Short fiction for this week's image over at
Elephant Words


Oppression by Keith Giles

This is how it always starts. First it's one sign. Company policy. Nothing I can do about it, M'am. And then, before you know it, sooner than you'd expect, the martial law orders come down in the middle of the night and policemen in riot gear are riding through the streets firing tear gas at college students and pummelling the innocent in unison.

No one ever takes responsibility for these things. The media blames the government, the politicians blame the media, and the average joe suffers. People like you and me, we're only necessary to keep the machine pumping. Our muscles operate the conveyor belts of progress and our lusts fuel the economy built on the consumption of taxable vice.

The angel spoke to me again last night. Couldn't sleep at all. My damn tooth again. I could put pressure on that side of my head and feel the hot infection spread beneath the skin, radiating over my skull.

I was in the bathroom dabbing the last of the Ambusol on the molar when she began to sing to me. Just like last time only louder. "Send them to me," she sang. The colors of the vision were liquid joy. They spun in the air between the mirror and my head, just out of reach. I wanted to close my eyes and sleep to the heavenly music, but I couldn't bear to shut out the colors.

It only lasted ten, maybe fifteen minutes but when it was over my eyes were full of tears. I blinked them away, letting them run like hot rivers down my swollen cheeks.

Donnie had given me a pound of dynamite last year, before he jumped off the bank building, before Janet left him for that guitarist. I found it under my bed, wrapped in an old U2 t-shirt. It smelled like a pair of old boots my dad used to make me shine for him every Saturday afternoon.

"Send them to me," the angel sang. I couldn’t get that music out of my head. All night long it resonated, echoing in my mind like a song you hate but cannot keep humming once you've heard it playing over the radio.

I shoved the old dynamite, still bundled in the t-shirt, into my backpack and zipped it shut along with a picture of me and Donnie from his birthday party last winter and a letter I had written for my Mother but never mailed.

The next day, at the DMV, I went into the bathroom and unspooled the lump, held together with two orbits of duct tape, and lit the lead fuse with my dad's old Zippo. I always loved the "Clicht" and "Snicht" of the chrome cover as it opened and closed. I felt like a Soviet spy purging the world of capitalism and mindless oppression.

As I watched the fuse sizzle down I heard the angel sing to me again. It was faint at first, but soon I could hear her soft whisper, "The poison in my veins sang like jaded copper bees, the blood it spilled rain down in drops, rained down my arms, filled up my sleeves…"

Tiny sparks were popping intermittently out of the fuse. Tiny tendrils of smoke spun off of each flashing ember and faded slowly into the air above my head like silver daydreams.

I unlocked the bathroom door and tossed the lump high into the air, underhanded like tossing a grapefruit to a friend across the room. Before it hit the ground it erupted into a shower of force and light. Kaleidoscope of color and fury set to the sound of angels in joyous release.

"Here they come," I said to the angels, just before all of the lights went out.



Nick! said...

Keith> Nice work...! Sorry it took me a while to get to reading it. I've posted a link to this piece at Elephant Words.

If you want a link to your piece to show up on the page of the image it's inspired by, link directly to the image's post... it should turn up as a trackback!

And please, keep on keeping on... I really liked this!

Chris S. said...

I love the narrative voice in this. It's such a perfect-sized morsel of a story. Love the touch of referring to the voice heard as an angel. Have you got more stuff on here?

Chris S. said...
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