Warm February Day, even while the sun sinks low behind the dark stick-forest of trees crunched together under a layer of lava-glow orange sky, with dark blue rushing in overhead. The sidewalk looks more blue than white, and the brick buildings of Main St. look darker than brick red. A child could paint this scene with all the orange and blue crayons in the box and nothing would look amiss.
The cars rush by, a few at a time, and are more background objects, than the actual metal bubbles of lives intersecting. Just thinking it, though, and a rush of things come upon me. I push it back. I want lost in the blue sidewalk. I want the coolness coming from the dark blue overhead to stay with me, as I sit upon the warm stone of this marble bench, just a little ways from Main Street.
Too late. The court house, drenched in dark, blood-red bricks, none of it sticking to the white, lime stone foundation that skirts it, is telling stories of long ago. That Oil Soap smell of those wood floors, uneven, after all, buckling under unspoken pressures, comes at me through the cracks of the doors like dust scented perfume. The leather of a million lawyers’ shoes, and the polishing of a million million mop strokes to wipe away their scuffs on the floor, blends oddly with the still slight acrid smell of tobacco, when cigars and cigarettes were as common indoors as the shushing of babies in grocery stores. Some of the ceiling tiles in the janitor closets are still nicotine brown.
Lives. The building blocks of life. How odd to call DNA such a thing, the building blocks of life, considering other worlds may be teaming with life created from nanobot chains built from mineral ladders instead of amino acid rings. But both worlds would still be full of lives.
Lives, one wonders, are they the currency of heaven? Is your life typed up in a manilla folder, full of capital growth and investment predictions and numbers we haven’t even begun to comprehend? Is my after-life credit score good, or is it as crappy as my credit rating down here? How valuable is a life up there?
My sitting on this bench, soaking up the surrealness of this atmosphere, the smell of old building, fragile nerves, and car exhaust, am I increasing the right numbers, or wasting time just…. being? Is there a tax collector above, eagerly awaiting the wages of my idleness? Does he, or she, particularly relish the poets and writers of this world? Maybe the builders of cathedrals are the only ones that keep her up at night wondering where her next paycheck’s sixth or seventh zero will come from. People to take care of there, her family, her friends, her Lamborghini insurance and weekly detailing, all take a toll on the tax collectors of heaven. She has a life too, you know.
When angels kill, what makes them different from demons? Is it like us? Does it matter most why they killed, and not that they did kill? How many people can you kill before you become a killer? Soldiers waking up in the bleak hours of the night, with clenched teeth and sweaty faces seem to know the answer. Do angels know? They have lives too, you know.
These metal bubbles of intersecting lives, rushing by, full of eager faces with hungry tummies, they all stab at my heart. Like a fretful bird, my heart hovers over each one as they pass by, I can almost smell the hamburgers and spaghetties, the soups and breads baking in each house where they drive to, the living rooms full of laid out school books, the kitchen counter with romance novels on them, the smelly boots that dad took off, and the sound that English ears have heard since before it was Old High German, of girls and boys calling for mom… “Mom! Brother is annoying me again. Make him stop!”
A million different houses, bigger wooden bubbles of lives intersecting, with mostly tar encrusted sprinkles of gravel shingles on top, not sprinkles like the little yellow sprinkles of cheese on spaghetti, nor like the little brown dashes of sprinkles on top of a sundae. That sounds really good right now, here on this courthouse lawn.
I used to think worry was a form of love. My love hovers over the world, as if my soul was as big as a planet, but my mind is so very small. Love is not worry. I tell myself this as the fragile little lives and souls go rushing past into the shadows of the dark blue sky as it pushes down the orange glow into a thin hot line.
Oh tax collector of the heavens, tax this, if you will; I hope I make you a fortune, as I stay here, hovering over a world that doesn’t see me, feeling all of it, worrying over all of it, simply being a fat lump of flesh, dressed in rags, sitting alone on a bench, in the dimness of the evening, doing nothing. Invisible but so relieved that no one can see my heart. Like you, I only wish I had a little more love in my life, my friend.