There were no warnings, no fireworks or earthquakes, no apocalyptic colors darkening the sky. Everyone knew who was descending from Heaven to Earth on a red, silk parachute—the man we’d read about in the prophecies.
My Uncle Ted stepped through the screen door and joined me on the front porch to watch those naked feet touching down.
“This changes everything,” he said. “Can’t say exactly how, but it’s gonna be a whole new ballgame.”
We each had our own way of dealing with it.
Old Willie Taylor spun circles across his vegetable garden. Henrietta Dawson executed a perfect handstand. Most of us paraded down the road, following our new arrival after he unstrapped the parachute’s harness and started marching toward the county line.
Ida Wilcox burst through the door of her bed-and-breakfast without a stitch of clothing and splashed through the puddles from yesterday’s rain. When she tripped and fell into the mud, I wasn’t the only person who laughed.
Uncle Ted took out his pipe and stuffed it with tobacco. He and Miss Wilcox had been a couple many years ago. He never talked about it, but I’d heard that she slept around on him, some said with the butcher, some said with the sheriff. Miss Wilcox had earned a reputation.
Uncle Ted flicked his lighter on and off while she thrashed in the muck. She screamed as the town paraded by.
“Help me,” she said. “Please, help me rise above this.”
The townspeople left a wide berth around Miss Wilcox quivering naked on the roadside.
Uncle Ted started down the front steps. He lowered himself onto his hands and knees and embraced Miss Wilcox, pressed his cheek against her wet, grey locks. Sandra Redding, Toby Branford and Kent Hurley stopped marching at the sight of it. They stood hand-in-hand, swaying in unison as they sang.
Our neighbors sounded like drunken carolers who had stumbled upon a revelation. They testified with chorus after chorus when all I wanted them to do was proceed along the road with the rest of the congregation.
The rain started to fall again. I ran off the porch to salvage what I could from the landing site. A crowd had already been ripping away patches. Souvenirs. I covered Miss Wilcox with what remained, blanketed her with the fabric of that red parachute from the man who arrived in town this morning.
Craig Fishbane is the author of On the Proper Role of Desire (Big Table). His work has also appeared in the New York Quarterly, Bartleby Snopes, Gravel, Drunken Boat and The Nervous Breakdown, as well as the Flash Fiction Funny anthology. He can be reached at his website: www.craigfishbane.wordpress.com