I was super pleased to learn that I placed third in Writer’s Digest annual Short Story Contest and even more pleased that that came with some $$$ AND a mention in the July / August 2020 issue! Now… that doesn’t come with publication, that’s saved for the winner, but the story is below and I hope you enjoy.
An Indefinite Progress of Existence
8:55 A.M. – Houston
In Tokyo it is Wednesday already. I wonder how the future looks. In the movie Pearl Harbor it really bothered me that during the scene on the Japanese warship, the mustachioed general points to December 7 on a calendar (the square allotted for December 7 has an intimidating red X stretched across it) and he shouts, “Time to go,” except in Japanese.
In Japan it was already December 8.
It also bothered me that the kamikaze pilots had their landing gears down.
Historical accuracy is important.
9:07 A.M. – Houston
In Los Angeles it is 7:07 A.M. and in Los Angeles I would still be asleep. William Moody, also known as just Moody, is getting married to Becky, only known as Becky, in August in Los Angeles. They are originally from Kentucky, he used to chew tobacco, and they are getting married in a forest. He called last week to tell me not to wear heels to the wedding since it will involve a hike, that I wouldn’t be allowed to smoke because it’s California and wildfires are a thing, and that Becky would appreciate it if I wore something tasteful.
I don’t like Becky.
9:16 A.M. – Houston
In Long Island it is 10:16 A.M. My grandmother will be watching her backyard—her eyes lingering over every blade of grass, every wilting milkweed, and every winged beetle that buzzes into her territory. In 44 minutes she will have a dirty martini and turn on her wheezing computer to play Texas Hold ‘Em. She’ll play poker all day until someone comes to visit her, which may or may not happen.
9:20 A.M. – Houston
It is 5:20 P.M. in Moscow. McDonald’s and the metro are the only two places in Russia that you cannot smoke. Everything else—classrooms, airplanes, doctor’s offices—are fair game. The snow in Moscow will have melted three weeks ago leaving behind snow drift-shaped mounds of cigarette butts, and the Russian ladies will be out in neon green mini skirts, fake Louis Vuitton handbags, and blouses stretched tight over their chests, all of them looking like 1980s MTV backup dancers.
Time is late to Russia.
The Kremlin Café, across the street from the state Duma and right next to Lenin’s mausoleum is the best place for ice cream because it comes with a shot of vodka mixed in. I always used to top mine with sprinkles.
9:28 A.M. – Houston
In Honolulu it is 4:28 A.M. In 5 hours and 32 minutes they will test the tsunami sirens as they always do on the first Tuesday of every month at exactly 11 A.M. in Hawaii.
While a history teacher on Oahu I used to ask: “What happens if we get a tsunami on a first Tuesday at exactly 11 A.M.?”
My neighbor, Mrs. Kealakeliakapua’a’maumau (aged 84) kept a kayak veined through with dry rot on her driveway and on the first Tuesday of each month at 11 A.M., and only if she remembered to turn on her hearing aid, would scurry out of her house and fling herself into the vessel.
So there was at least one other person who thought about this remote possibility, even if her kayak didn’t have a paddle.
9:42 A.M. – Houston
Texas and Medellín are in the same time zone. In 18 minutes Carlos will start his first Pablo Escobar tour of the day.
You get to see the kingpin’s grave.
It has sunflowers on it.
Carlos will hand the American couple in the backseat of his mid-size SUV laminated fliers showing what the drug lord’s buildings used to look like. The final hideout, tucked away on a tree-lined boulevard in an expensive part of the valley, is now a Spanish school for expats.
When Carlos took me to the red clay-shingled rooftop where Netflix filmed the final shootout scene in Narcos, he pointed to the real spot where Pablo Escobar died—two roofs over. The owner of that building wanted nothing to do with it.
A real estate management sign hangs outside.
Time erases in Colombia.
9:55 A.M. – Houston
I was nervous about finding parking at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center so I’ve been sitting in this waiting room for an hour. The word Texas is in the name so I assumed it was a big place.
I was right.
Five more minutes until my appointment.
There’s an aquarium here which means the neurologists behind the door also read that article about how patients require less pain medication during procedures if they had just watched fish swimming around and around (and around).
Pantone’s color of the year is Living Coral, #16-1546, an “animating and life affirming hue,” but there’s no living coral in that tank, just a bunch of neon tetras from the Amazon basin. They have transparent fins so you can see right through them, just like an MRI scan.
The door next to the aquarium opens.
Whatever they say to me, whatever I need to do, there’s just one thing I want.