I’M STUFFING BOTTLES again with my writing selections. I’m getting ready for another mass floating of simultaneous submissions. You may wonder where all these ancient-looking bottles came from, anyone would wonder — it’s only natural to wonder, and since they are not soda pop bottles, that’s how you know they are ancient.
One day after several false starts upon an adventurous hike, I finally aligned all my adventure gear securely into my goat-skin fanny pack and made my way through thick vegetation up to a hill-type place. And it was there that I found a moonshine distillery left behind by some long-dead foreign explorers. Their bones were still very much present. And what they left behind for me to find in their moonshine death camp on that great day was enthralling. I had never found so many wonderfully colored glass bottles unguarded and ripe for my plucking. And so I grabbed them. I grabbed them all!
Soon, the bottles float away — away from my cove, full of short stories and poems written on thin layers of coconut husk. The originals are guarded in the library, and the copies sail off to editors. I light beeswax candles and plug up the tops so they don’t get wet, and also so that while they are sailing through the midnight my great armies will not lose their bearings. I’ve worked damn hard, and can’t have them straying off course.
And through the brilliant glow of a hundred burning candle-bottle submissions, I notice the silhouette of a ghostly ship approaching from the distance.
OH SHIT! “No, don’t do that please.”
“You don’t speak English, do you?”
“And I didn’t bother to learn Spanish.”
“No. No. Not those! Take anything, but don’t…”
“Ouch, that fucking hurt.”
THE PIRATES DEPARTED three days ago, with all my supplies. They didn’t welcome me aboard their ship, either; rather, they kicked my ass and left me for dead among a row of tall palm trees and bushes that reminded me of a back alley in sweet Chicago. I am but a bum again, this time on a beach, which is somehow even worse. It’s tough getting drunk here too, a drunkenness to cure all these damn wounds.
The pirates were not enticed into the library, except to burn the whole thing down to the sand. Proving to be illiterate bastards who would not appreciate any masterpieces of a literary genius.
Smoke still blows across the landscape, even after the sky turned pink and the stars began to twinkle. And now it is night. I smoke a banana peel and lay back. The tide comes in and licks at my toes and then recedes. I look upward and outward into heaven or outer space. And they still shoot across the sky in perfect tiny flashes.
I don’t even wish anymore. I know they can’t hear my thoughts. I am profound and I am alone. My civilization has failed. My humanity has been stripped. Tell you what, as soon as my smoking banana peel burns out, I will surely cease to exist.
I draw another yellow banana cloud into my lungs. “Phhheewww,” I blow out, but it’s more of a sigh than anything else. Smoke trickles out of my mouth and nostrils. I haven’t had so much as a fresh guava in many days. I’ve given up my hope and dignity completely. May never have had dignity to begin with, and now there is a great longing for my missing dignity. A defeated castaway — well damn me!
I’m so tired now. Have failed the gods who placed me here for reasons that I never learned.
AND from overhead a specific shooting star moves toward me, as opposed to crossing the dark sky. It’s getting larger and larger. It’s heading toward my tiny half-carcass. There’s a mile-long rooster tail separating the black cosmos into swirls.
Oh, I get it: the shooting star has come to smoother me out. As the object nears the Earth’s surface it brightens the beach and I can see another glass bottle has washed onto the shore. Another rejection, I assume. I will not need to look at this last one. Another rejection will not solve anything. The banana I’ve been smoking goes out and I flick it onto the curb — except here are no curbs here. There is no traffic here.
The star bursts through the atmosphere, and is not as big as I’d imagine a star to be. It’s more the size of an aircraft really. And it nears. I don’t close my eyes, but rather allow for the bright light to burn my corneas — won’t need these eyes anymore anyway, not after my fate lands upon me and explodes in the sand. No one will ever know how freeing this really is!
And then it slows. Comes to a halt and hovers above my head. It’s about 50 feet above me now, and contrary to my suspicions it hasn’t blinded me at all. It’s a strange rectangular shape, and it appears impossible that it could sustain flight. It has strange markings upon its side. Can’t tell if there are supposed to be numbers or words or numbers intertwined between letters such as to suggest an intelligent labeling system for individual vessels.
Strange faces that don’t really look like faces — but what else would pop up inside those windows? — stare at me out of eyes that don’t really appear to be eyes. I return the gaze.
A hatch opens up and a beam shoots down upon me. A thick white stream of a synthetic light. My nudity makes me feel uncomfortable for the first time in six months — since I studied myself for an anatomical drawing for my health book I authored for my library that burned to the ground.
Soon, the light beam makes me float, and I rise toward the ship, and then am in the ship and then am in a big test tube contraption. My captors surround my test tube and make funny faces at me, though they still don’t really look like faces. They seem friendly enough, plus they’re curious as hell. Oh, all the things I will teach these strange looking beings while they experiment upon me and inflict some sort of cruel and accidental death.
I WONDER IF these are the angels that everyone’s always talking about. I also wonder if they are going to allow me to build them a well-stocked public library, and mail out simultaneous submissions from time to time.