He nodded. Outside, the church bell went off.
It’s eight pm.
“Curfew,” he said.
“It’s funny,” and I did smile. “Had you told me a year ago that the city would be pitch black, ice cold, no phones and only certain neighborhoods would be patrolled for safety, I would have believed you, well, maybe not about the phones. That’s the killer, but I never would have seen myself on this side of town, and alone.”
“You always had friends.”
“My man, I grew up surrounded by people. I’ve always had friends.This,” I held my arms out gesturing to my situation, “is hell.”
The bell signified 8 pm. It wasn’t a siren. Let’s be real here. They had sirens, weapons, electricity and phones somewhere. We didn’t. We were not them. They had gasoline for cars and we had a quiet budding violence that caused us to loot every station after the first night. This was gluttony, ire, terrified people; a bankrupt community turned sour and there’s real squalor in the adjoining neighborhoods. But not isolation. Not there. Here, they have kerosene and back up generators and access to hotels in places that exist outside of the metro. Here, they have fireplaces, bottled water, Beefaroni, no kids and a Lolita fantasy.
Something awful was happening. Cell phone towers crumbling and entire cities in darkness. The national guard scattered and CB radios informing us all that this crisis stretched like webbing or tributaries and it was moving fast like a virus. Hysteria takes simply one suggestion. So does hypnosis. Our reliance on electricity was the killer. The winter was the catalyst to death. Me, I spent entire winters gathering blankets, scarves, coats, you can thank my anemia. I spent entire winters walking blocks outside alone. My cat spent her time hiding. I spent my time adjusting to the freeze every year, feeling my bones weaken but my resolve strengthen and I walked this city for miles.
“I know this city like the back of my hand,” I told a previous friend. “Sure, I get lost but give me a song to zone out to and I will walk from here clear to west philly without stopping and without getting even the slightest bit confused. I can walk for miles.”
“I mean miiiiles.”
Genius to do it in winter. This was a great underrated catastrophe. If it was happening outside of the US, I wouldn’t be so smarmy. But they said it wasn’t. Who is they? The big THEY. I began to list the people I trusted;
1. my parents
- no one.
Some people had fled to the areas that were safer: inward. The coast had been targeted and all major metropolitan areas. There is no time to go into the theories of the Russians and the Cold War and the terrorists because panic is delusional. I was sitting on the living room floor of a stranger eating his food and telling him stories, afraid he will kill me at any moment and forced to spend the night abandoning my home and my cat and my previous life. I did not waste time theorizing why such things were taking place because the sensate felt the wires snap, the phone buzz, the vibration give, the Earth pave way, the tidal wave, the monsoons shift, the Coriolis effect that demands we shut the fuck up and go to sleep now. But I am avaricious and a girl of might and dare. I would not lay my head down for nature. I would not lay my head down here. I continued to charm him.
The next day I went back out telling my mother the same lie.
“I’ll be at Leana’s!”
Another ok was heard from a doorway and off I ran to find my dog, her stick, our battle.