Fire: "What are you doing here? Fool. I'm god here. You're neither wanted nor needed. It's over."
Ice: "Perhaps. Perhaps not."
Fire: "Bah. In war, it is I who kills. Flame-throwers, the gunpowder propelling bullets, bombs, and best of all, but rarely used, atomic fire. Oh, it warms my heart to see."
Ice: "Yes, but I am your best partner, though you know it not."
Fire: "You? Hah. Okay, I grant you, frostbite and cold have destroyed the bodies of many. Napolean and Hitler and Lord knows who else's armies. But still."
Ice: "No, you're foolish and rambling as ever. I'm not talking about how I can help you kill. I'm talking about how I prepare the ground for you. Make people not care. Encourage the turning of a cold shoulder, a blind eye. Without me, people might never turn to you."
Fire: "I doubt it. Fire begets fire. Hate begets hate. What does your little chill of indifference have to do with it? Be gone or I'll melt you to water."
Ice: "Perhaps. But I might douse you to smoldering embers. I suggest you think about it. We can work as partners. Each making the other stronger. Actually, we have been partnering, but I've never gotten the credit I deserve. You've ignored me too long."
Fire: "Hah! Not nearly so much as you have ignored me! You're useless without me!"
Ice: "Fine, if that's the way you feel, then this is goodbye. Forever."
God smiled. Humanity prospered.
Braintree: Jack Roth secured Timmy's Infant Seat, shut the door and slid into the driver's seat. He glanced over at Sally and smiled.
Reading: Sam's eyes already drooped. He cracked the window; turned up the radio. His 18-wheeler responded sluggishly around the curves; the hold sated with liquid propane.
Norwood: Jack glanced left at the small planes circling the airport. "When Timmy's older and we've socked away some money, I'm learning to fly."
Sally frowned and shook her blonde curls. "Why?"
Woburn: Sam wondered silently, why is 128 always crowded with traffic, day or night?. God, I'm tired. What channel? Too many lights. He opened the window fully.
Needham: "Jack, didn't we promise to bring wine?"
"Shoot! Yeah. Not sure where though. They don't have anything like that at the rest stops."
"Better hurry or we'll miss the fireworks."
"I promise Sally. We won't miss the fireworks."
Lexington: Crap. No truck stops? I need coffee. Only on the Pike maybe. No, there's gotta be one here somewhere. Geez. I pity poor Brian who has this boring route every day. A promise is a promise though.
Wellesley: "Sally, do you remember --- didn't we visit Shelly off this exit once and I'm pretty sure there's a wine store right down Washington. Right?"
"All I remember is your outrageous flirting with Shelly all night."
"I did not! I wasn't flirting."
"Just promise never to do it again."
Piety Corners: The flash was seen as far away as Boston proper.
"Brad! Glad you made it. A glass of Dom P to celebrate?"
"Great! Nice tie."
Brad smiled; poured the drink; gestured out the penthouse window. "Should be, Taylor. Two hundred bucks at Bellini's."
Glasses clinked. Taylor smiled. "Well, Brad, the market liked your move. Up 4 and 3/8. Not bad."
"Just the beginning, Taylor. Once we announce the 'synergies' between the two companies, we'll make real money on our options."
"How many 'synergies' are you talking about?"
"At least 50, 000 off the payroll. Machines do most of the Amazon clear-cutting now anyway."
"Cool. Mary, I take it, will be bidding on a few more Monets?"
"Mary's 'on vacation.' Put her up in a private place. Good doctors, the right drugs, etc."
"Oh, sorry, I didn't know."
"She found out about Jenny and temporarily lost touch with reality. Even talked divorce. My doctors are calling it a dissociative disorder. I don't want any negative publicity to queer the deal. Hopefully, she'll be back to her senses by Christmas. Anyway, are we still on for next Thursday at Pebble Beach?"
"Try to keep me away!" Taylor chuckled.
Taylor and Brad stared into the sparkling streets of Manhattan, laid out before them like attractive derivatives.
"Oh, Christ. Taylor! Look at that. Addicts. I hate that crap. Juliani should clean junkies off the
streets permanently." "No kidding. I can't imagine what it would be like to have your life run by addiction. Those people will do anything to get their drug. Pathetic."
"Little Grandma" (as we all called her) was 86 when last I saw her alive on what was to be her deathbed. She smiled and asked about my broken arm. She was old, bent, wrinkled -- and tired -- so she said. I guess it was from her Native American bones that I inherited my love of nature, my peace with all of it; all that is natural and beautiful on this tiny jewel of a planet -- the wild iris, the rose, the caterpillar, the crimson sunset and the rain.
The rain. But of course, there are a thousand kinds of rain. They come in so many colors, moods, and sounds. Tall sheets of rain seen from miles across the "Big Sky" country; cold, drizzly little fall rains; sudden laughing summer showers; lashing hurricanes that flood and kill and toss trees like broken toys.
When we buried you, "Little Grandma," it was a gray day steel steady rain of tears from a sky that held unseen clouds. It was the rain, I guess, that drowned out the meaningless words of the poor man in the black robes babbling uselessly to comfort me. The grass was very green in your little spot beneath the black, dripping elm.
On the rain fell, on the ancient little church, on the little crowd of black umbrellas, on the stones of the graveyard, gradually, gradually, fading out even the words carved in stone -- but not the words carved in my heart, "Little Grandma."
Story on the Tokyo Subway
Worry for your Children
Short Story Index
To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.orgLast modified: Thursday, June 6th, 2002