Now

  • Two by Nic Luc

    Catchphrase

    I heard this woman say, “I’m coming. Why are you calling?” and I thought something was wrong with that. I don’t know why she said it. I was standing in line, basket in my hand, staring at a pack of green balloons that said, “St. Patrick’s Day!” like a warning. And that’s when I heard it, several rows down. I think she was a cashier. I found out later that those were the last words of some Greek philosopher named Zeno. He said it when he stubbed his toe, and then he killed himself.

    The day after, I heard someone else say it. A woman in a commercial. She was driving to pick up her kids, and she said it. I expected to see a car crash, metal intensely smashed together. About a week later, I caught myself saying it. I hoped it was an accident. This was a slogan which announced death but nothing was happening to us.

    To figure this out, I made a plan to consult children. They’ve got access to enigma in a way that we don’t. I read a study the other day that claimed children can see more colors than adults, that they have an advanced experience of light. I went up to my nephew, who’s about three years old and the most child-like child I know. Before I could say anything, he recited the phrase to me.

    Michael Bay

    They called him a man out of history, someone who accidentally wandered in from an age of epoch-making. A real genius. They kept up with all his movies.

    They had ideas about what Bay was like. They imagined him on set, cloistered with his pyrotechnicians, discussing ways to make the explosions louder, brighter, how the budget might accommodate the expansion of soaring flames and pillars of dust. These conversations must have been serious, spoken in low tones in secluded places. He must have consulted them as if they were alchemists, people capable of leading him out of death. They saw Bay atop some equipment van, delivering a speech, dictating that the whole film crew should understand explosions, the composition of powders, the ratio of fuel to oxidizer, the difference between deflagration and detonation. They imagined him saying, “My favorite thing is to see fire reflected on the faces of movie-watchers, orange glares in the dark.”

    For a long time they looked at paparazzi photos. He was always at lunch or walking on the street or exiting a car. The nighttime pictures were more spectacular. Bay was engulfed by camera flashes, his face sickly glowing. He always kept the same expression. It was something they had never seen before. Open mouthed, expressing a once in a lifetime shock, as if the flash on his face was a sign of his body’s exposure to a fatal radiation.

    Early photographers burned magnesium wire to produce the necessary light for photographs. Those who experienced this photo-taking method for the first time complained of light being trapped in their bodies.

    They looked at photos of his house. These came from satellite images and realtor listings. There were floor plans, networks of living spaces and corridors. The house was two stories. It had sixteen rooms. They simulated it all, gauging distances by taking measured steps, spreading their arms apart, lying on the floor. They speculated about furniture layouts, the relative distance of couches, tables, and chairs. Supposedly there was a glass chandelier. For days, they converted their rooms into rooms from Bay’s house. The flash on his face was a light following him.

    ________

    Nic Luc is a writer from California. You can find him at nicluc.neocities.org or on Twitter @postponedly.