Sparks fly in a pathetic attempt at fireworks. Jared takes his fingers out of his ears and peers into the cardboard box. Faulty. The cylinders he got for cheap off of Old Man Bombay are all faulty. They’re sputtering quietly as their fuses go out. Jared kicks the box and one of the fireworks whistles and bursts horizontally. It hits a tree and releases a few pathetic bursts of color that melt into the dark ground.
Jared curses. He’s lucky nothing caught on fire or he’d be done for. Prime brush fire area this is. Stupid to try to light the fireworks here. Lucky they didn’t work, he figures. His forehead is damp with the panic of what could have happened. The damage that could have been done.
Jared’s biggest enemy is the subjunctive. Might have been, would have been, might and could be. Lethal expressions as far as Jared is concerned. Past and future are full of them. Only the present, the ever-occurring now, is free. Jared is a strong believer in the now. He tried to start a cult once, called Nowism. It didn’t go very well. None of the women he wanted to bone would join. And what’s the point of a cult if you don’t get to screw everyone’s women, Jared decided.
He occasionally pretends that it had worked out. Pesky imagination, fraternizing with the enemy. Nevertheless, he does this. Imagines that his tent under the overpass is his private domain, that the women and men who follow him have tents set up all around him. They would have chosen this spot because of the traffic noise, shifting and surprising in its rhythms, a perfect metaphor for Nowism. Something could come flipping off the overpass any second, a drunk driver crashing through the barrier. Or there may be a scream ripping through the night as a happy couple shout their joy out the windows on their wedding night. Anything could happen down under the overpass, but the only thing that matters is that it is happening now.
Jared scratches his ear and wonders whether it’s time to head home. Is it time for bed or is it time to go beat the crap out of Old Man Bombay, the skinny heroin addict who’d never set foot in India. Big thoughts for Jared’s big head. His ear is really itching. He takes a nail file out of his pocket and digs in his ear, trying to locate the source of the itch and pry it out. Maybe an insect crawled in there and died in his earwax. The nail file comes out waxy but insectless. A good sign.
It’s too dark to beat up the addict. Jared decides it is time to go home. His tent is always there. It IS, this solid ISness of it a comfort. Jared takes the cardboard box of fireworks to show Old Man Bombay as evidence tomorrow and begins to trudge home through the field.
When the police came to investigate who’d been shooting illegal fireworks in the middle of the Hellers’ field, they found a wide, bony, ravaged body missing a head. It seemed to have been blown off by something. When they found the head a little ways away, it was wearing an expression of surprise on its face, as if it was expecting something else that should have happened.


One thought on “Nowism

  1. Wow! I recently discovered your blog, read your short stories in the link, and loved it! Your writing pulls me right in. And once again, I’m entranced. Thank you!

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