NASA Image of the Day

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Part 26:Relay Racial Facial

At the desk, the still-composed woman continued to watch the screen with dismay, grabbing a file and flipping it open to reveal several glossies. She did not trust any image to a screen. Each photo was a precious moment; a scarcity of combination; a blending of influences. She clicked and printed - and only saved on the camera. It drove everyone nuts.

It also made her faster, and freer, and more protected than anyone else had managed, considering the number of times her work had been ruined by various eyes.It was an eye world to her, and she had ardent approaches to her many concerns.

She brushed a hand over her forehead, distractedly, held the file in her left hand, and grabbed for a cellphone in the buttersoft handbag resting on top of the ornately carved desk: a gift from a client, who tried for dinner, too - unsuccessfully:the last, a rueful "too busy, mon cher", on her part, clicking her tongue with regret. The client forgave her instantly, as usual.

She hit a button on the desk, and several more: the screen split into four, all blaring with a stockmarket byline blurbing at the bottom of each screen, in a different language.

All were discussing various matters specific to something important:politico, famine, crises of enough magnitude to merit time. The game never changed, she thought, sadly - always, spectacle. She sighed.

She turned away from the large screen blanked from a painting image, now flashing foursquare electronics - a neat trick, and the pride of her office staff - and simply looked out of the window, waiting for an answer to her insistent ring.

"Madame?" Max's voice sounded quiet, but calm, as usual. She breathed in, instantly at ease.

"Oh, Max; have you seen the television?" She swiveled back to the screen, frowning.

"No, Madame. We have had a guest. I have been quite challenged, and very busy. Did you call earlier?" He sounded annoyed that he might have missed the call.

"No, no; no worries, Max. There has been another explosion. I received a call - Albert brought the note through to me at the gallery, via Albert in Paris, regarding the Haiti billboard. Someone has set fire to it...he was worried that someone might be wishing to hurt me." An angry cough sounded on the other end of the line, and she held the phone out from her ear.

"Apologies, Madame. I am not there. I am sorry." He sounded solemn. "You are safe?" There was a deeply pained note in his voice. He was furious that he was not there.

"Of course, Max. " Her voice was soft. "Please; I know this sounds odd, but does your guest seem legit? I can't be certain we are not being harassed, again." Her voice trembled, slightly. "I have no idea if this is because of Haiti, because of my efforts, or because of the model. never knows...."

"Madame! No worries!" Max sounded as if he wanted to climb through the phone. "The gentleman is perfectly welcome, and although somewhat disshevelled, otherwise most welcome, and quite appreciative of sanity amidst the weariness of travel." He paused. "I trust you are well?" His formality was a familiar affection, and she relaxed, smiling.

"Other than being on the immediate alert, again, Max...thankfully, I am fine. Thank you." She breathed out, aggravatedly. "Max, I am so sick of this maniac. I should be back tomorrow, once I liaise with authorities regarding the particulars. If anyone calls, you can give them my cell....but use your best judgement about who gets the number, okay?"

"Of course", said Max, smoothly. "Madame?"

"Just are you feeling?" Her tone was, again, normally concerned, and the now-firm cadenced response, eyeing the photo again, was simaltaneously visually and auditorially critical.

"I am well", said Max, quietly. "Peaceful sleeping, Madame." The line clicked. She breathed, one concern erased.

Part 25: Ebony Eyes

"I told you", Grant screamed into the cellphone,

"Check the garbage can, or dumpster, closest to that billboard. In it - once you get past the smoke, so cover your bloody face - you will find a dead animal; most probably a cat, or part of it!"

Each syllable was enunciated with such clarity that the consonants scraped along the phone, tragically, as if he was explaining directions to get to the school bus to a mentally challenged child - for the fortieth time.

He slammed the cellphone against the chest of the blankfaced uniform staring up at the sign, until his hand snaked up and closed over it, jaw dropping.

As his hand closed over the set, and Grant strode away, the remaining light bulbs around the sad blackened eyes in the billboard face exploded with a whiz, a moaning whistle/crack/pop sounding into the blueblack night sky.

"Goddammit, I'll do it myself", muttered Grant, grimly.

The words sounded flatly - strangely sombrely - into the impossible stillness, upsetting, at last, the total silence and quiet which followed the exploding bulbs.

Defeated, again, the uniform hung his head, lowering his arm, and turned towards the patrol car. Various voices blared out.

A crowd of onlookers needed no "move on" reminder.....they were rooted and staring, both startled and disturbed.

The uniform slipped quietly into the driver's seat, backed up the car, and tried to follow the disappearing figure of the large, angry, loping man moving towards any possible dumpster, smoking can, or hissing, personless box, still smoking within the small block radius he had just described, with such accurate acid.

"Fuck me Freddy" said the uniform, throwing the car into gear, and squinting to see where Grant had moved, machine-like, into the evening gloom.

He could never keep up to the fucking guy.

Part 24: A model model

"Oh, my God, D'arcy....look at the add!" The beautiful mirror of the huge sign, a miniature in his newly-engaged arms - almost - shook with fear. D'Arcy looked up, still smelling the
acrid explosion in his nostrils.

His beauty....marred impossibly by fire. The sign was ablaze, her face one huge sheet of flame, the last blink of the lights, like gentle, painted tattoo white lights around her eyes - an exceptional "traditional tribal" paint touch which Madame George had added at the last minute - were now the last electric firewall for the only unburning thing, and they stared blackly out at everyone, in an obscene visual scream.

She only sobbed once, staring up at herself, held tight in his arms, but burned now, beyond recognition, on the huge billboard scant blocks away from them. It didn't matter what colour her hair had been......

She buried her face in his shoulder, sobbing. He turned her face into his neck, stroking her hair, and murmuring to her gently.