Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tomorrow or not somewhere

I was at a wedding reception when the revolution began.

I'd never been to the city before and was grateful for the excuse, and we were all taking shelter from a sudden storm that came up in the church just a few blocks from City Hall that had been converted to a barn. It was sudden to me, anyway, it doesn't rain much where I'm from. The church where the wedding was one of those steeple-peaked, turn-of-the-century looking models but had closed down years ago. Now they rent the place out for weddings , which I'd imagine doesn't entirely impress the deacons or fathers or whatever they were who worked out of there. Or maybe it does.

I remember the light coming through the stained glass lining the ceiling was beautiful. The sun looked to be setting someplace only a few blocks away when this humpbacked cloud eased halfway over the roof, spitting lightning bolts across the sky with deep pockets full of thunderclaps as the sun feebly poked down on the tree-lined streets in the distance. The ceremony over, the newlyweds were in good spirits, and a good chunk of the crowd even raised glasses yelled with every rafter-rattling rumble.  A few stragglers tap-danced their way inside for cover, leaving behind formations of folding chairs clustered around nothing in the wet grass.

The first armored personnel carrier speeding by the ex-church's big bay window barely registered, the second only slightly moreso as Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" bounced and rumbled along, right on schedule. I watched a cluster of tanks rumble crazily across the park, but they took awhile to register, their expressionless cyclops eyes lolling in front of them in a way that seemed strangely harmless, like my brain just absorbed the scene and replied, "Oh, I'd rather not," and reassigned them as some kind of wild animal, or a bunch of rogue appliances, as if a couple of lampposts had come to life and decided to relocate.

I turned away from the nonsensical scene and saw the DJ was watching me, his hands fiddling absently to start Madonna's "Holiday," which didn't make sense until i saw two men in head-to-toe camouflage come in from outside and unhurriedly position themselves on either side of the window. Their elbows rose and the glass iwas gone. Another thunderclap carved through the room and all the noises in the room reached to follow, the soldiers' rifles pumping toward scene across the street, the scattering of screams and the DJ leaving his post and heading into the rain, his white dinner jacket flailing wildly behind him before he flew into one of the clusters of chairs, tumbling over them with what seemed to be no sound at all.

The tanks were closer now, I couldn't hear much at that point but I heard them, a metronomic tick-tick-tick that nodded over some horribly insistent mechanized grind that reminded me of the Sugardale plant back home. The soldier next to me palmed a cherry red bicycle helmet to his chest as he fiddled with something in his bag, finally giving up and smacking his partner on the shoulder. The second soldier looked up from his rifle and the smoking, steadily advancing tanks, the closest of which had seemed so interested in turning its big, expressionless eye toward our former church it barely regarded the midsized elm in its path, folding it under its tread with little notice as a third armored transport lumbered down our street.

I heard a voice, some megaphone-enhanced barking coming from somewhere but I was on my back now, covered in shrimp, peanut sauce and little figs wrapped in ham that had fallen in various forms of disrepair across my chest. Tumbling, clumsy legs and guests crossed in front of me as I watched one soldier hand the other what looked like a small rocket, a strangely toy-like thing  hardly bigger than his hand. He curled the bike helmet under his armpit, holding the little rocket gently by its neck and pointing it out the window like some kind of trainer waving a sock under a dog's nose before sending it on its way.

I rolled onto my side to stand and watched as it cut a crooked, manic path through the window with an evil hiss, slamming into the first tank with a flash that made my face feel flushed. Cake and frosting smeared across my cheek and into my hair and I was alone except the soldiers who screamed something into my face. I have no idea what. Another thunderclap rumbled underneath me and I realized there wasn't any rain, not anymore, and maybe there never was. The clouds had never parted and this church could never close and the music  played on and on.


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