Saturday, September 07, 2019


I don’t know whose idea it was. Maybe mine. But one night we got drunk like we did a lot of nights and drove the back roads home. At a fork there was an orange-and-white striped barrel with an orange light on top, blinking stupidly into the dark, guarding nothing, warning of nothing.

We stopped and I got out. No cars around, no houses. I grabbed the thing—could it even be lifted? Was it weighted with cement or somehow affixed in place, per some regulation? No. I had it in my arms like it was waiting to be taken. I carried it back, hurriedly, conscious now of the illicitness of my deed.

I placed it in the trunk and we drove off, happy, laughing. Satisfied. A fuck you to the Man under cover of the night.

At home we displayed it in the kitchen for a while. We formed a circle around it and watched it blink at us. We laughed. We stopped laughing. We drank. We laughed again.

Finally we dispersed and I took it upstairs to my room. I examined it in the quiet and the solitude. It blinked relentlessly. If I focused on the light everything else around it disappeared. I could almost hear it. Feel it. I put it in the closet and went to bed.

I awoke fitfully before dawn, disturbed by an alien presence, menacing and nameless. The light was pulsing through the gaps around the closet door, filling the darkened room with orange bursts. It seemed to have grown brighter in the night. Stronger. I pulled the covers over my head.

In the morning I opened the closet, hoping somehow it’d be gone. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. I opened the window and leaned out. There was a basement window well below, maybe five feet deep. I dragged the thing over and heaved it out. I watched it fall heavy through the air, wobbling a little. It landed softly, quietly, in a bed of copper-colored leaves. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. I went down and buried it good under the leaves and dirt. Soon winter would come with ice and snow. We’d all move out eventually. Get married, have kids. Careers.

But the infernal blinking would go on and on.