The Music

—Chapter 11—

Fever


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“So this is illegal, right?”

“Oh, very,” Rice answered, triple-checking the fuse.

Terry nodded. “Just checking.”

One long fuse had been rigged up to the irresponsible amount of fireworks. They sat at the edge of the apartment’s rooftop, and were pointed out over the street.

Ruben also stood on the edge, and in this scene, that was what mattered. lightning bugs filled his head. They swarmed all around him, in his ears, in his eyes, in his mouth, in his nose, until all he could see and hear and feel were flashes of light. They numbed him. They made his feet feel like they were floating in tingling clouds. The bugs went deeper, burrowing into his fingertips, swarming down his lungs, and at first they choked him, until they became the air itself and the world expanded into a massive floating sea of flashing insects. It was at this time that Ruben opened his eyes. Because while standing on the edge of the rooftop, Ruben had fainted. And as the lightning bugs stopped glowing one by one, Ruben looked up to recognize the face of Bob Dylan. Ruben felt cold. Tiny pebbles dug into the back of his head.

He had fallen backwards. He was still on the rooftop. Still alive. But all too easily, the lightning bugs could have carried Ruben away.

He tried to stand up, but Dylan kept him pinned. “You need help Ruben,” the folk singer said. “See a shrink.”

Ruben sat up. The lightning bugs still rang in his ears. He could still feel them in his fingertips.

“You okay buddy?” Rice asked.

“Ruben, I said are you alright?”

Ruben stood up and shuffled to the roof access door. He walked back to his apartment. He locked the door. He bolted it. He dragged the couch over from the living room and barricaded himself inside. Lucid, he went into the bathroom and locked that door too. He turned on the shower to block out the sounds. He sat under the showerhead, clothes and all, to block out the tingling lightning bugs.

Oui.

Non.

Quelle heure est-il?

Je vis dans la prairie. Très bon.

The Music


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© Ray Underscore Thompson, November 2015