The cars passing by my apartment sound like metal waves crashing onto an asphalt ocean, thought the man as he put a seashell to his ear, and it rumbled like a Chevy small block—370 horsepower, 380 foot-pounds of torque. Tomorrow, maybe I can retire, we’ll see. He put the seashell in his briefcase. In the morning, the sidewalks were hidden by black seaweed, and out his kitchen window he saw starfish clinging on a neighbor’s air conditioner, ten stories up. He showered, shaved, gazed at thirty photographs of golden dunes. Everyone on the city bus had a trident and wide rope net, he decided to walk. Steam rose from him. He wore a wet suit over his regular suit, flippers over shiny brown beetle boots. I’ll just make it, he thought, checking where the sun was. He turned on his air bottles, walked down the flooded subway steps, scuba’d through the tunnels to his desk job. During the day’s first meeting, he gave a successful presentation, shells passed around the boardroom, each investor took their turn to listen, eyes closed and nodding, smiling like children. This one sounds like a tiger purring. Listen, this shell sounds like John Coltrane—a few of his favorite things. Listen, listen, this shell sounds like the bluebirds singing in June. Listen listen listen this one is the best, it sounds like the engine of a convertible driving us all away to somewhere dry, imagine that, sand and sunshine, where we can be in love and our dreams can come true and we could even own a cactus.
Bud Smith works construction, and writes. His novel Teenager is forthcoming from Tyrant Books. His writing is collected here: