The radio had been playing a variety of soothing jazz and uplifting gospel until 10:30. It had began at 5:00 am to wake up Mr. Jeremy Abott, a well-disciplined gentlemen who had done a grand job of distributing alcohol to the needy a couple of decades ago. God had done good by him, he had lived a life so majestic that it had no end other than that where the luxury of patience and regiment was available in abundance. He brushed his teeth with the last bit of toothpaste he had left, a very odd occurance actually, since he had a habit of replacing the toothpaste when it had depleted to roughly 25%. It had been an exceptionally difficult week for him. He had watched Mrs. Abott shed her sanity day by day for the past 5 years and on Monday, he dropped her off at an asylum 3 towns away in San Luis Obispo. So what does it matter if he forgot to replace the toothpaste? It didn’t change him, but he had crafted a justification for it right before his marriage, and that justification came knocking back into his memory at that moment. He walked out of the flourescent bathroom into the dim lighting of his empty bedroom and turned up the volume on the radio. When he found himself back in front of the mirror a few moments later, he turned on the hot water in the sink, waited till the steam stuck to his skin, and began smearing shaving cream on his face.
There wasn’t a sole in the world that hadn’t touched her feet, nor was there any soul who had ever touched her heart. Ms. Clarietta Fontaine, changed from Ms. Clarietta Basby, when she moved here 5 years ago. The flat villa that she called her home sat at the edge of the flat town looking out at the flat golden prairie riding its way into the dark shadows of the ridged mountain range. Today was special and rare for her because she knew what would happen today, every second of it, and it began with her getting back into that dark blue dress that the Crown Prince of Cameroon had given her during the world tour following her divorce from Mr. Stanley Fontaine. She never really liked the villa she woke up in and for the last 3 years she had started to question whether it was worth all that trouble in court. This wonder started echoing in her head as she walked through the covered walkway between her quarters and the servants quarters, so she decided to avert her thoughts to how beautiful the servant’s quarters would look right now, filled with the scattered light from the tall diffused spanish windows. The morning was beautiful and she wanted to stop and smell the roses but it was already 11:00 am and the red lipstick still had to be applied, the hair still had to be dried, and her favorite silk nightgown still had to be washed and ready, just in case.
Dr. Alfred J. Garvey, a man of great and little importance to this story since his existance both escalates it and diminishes it. The call he got at 1:30 pm made him sweat even more profusely than the afternoon sun had allowed. He lived in a house too small, worked in an office too big, and controlled a town with very little power. Don’t make the assumption that he must have been a corrupt mayor; yes, he had sanctioned the construction of a highly taxing municipal building but it was only because of the will of the townspeople who had began to admire him after his valiant effort to save 4 students, 4 cats, and 1 dog from the fire at the agricultural college; he deserved the building because half of them made it out alive (the dog had to have two legs amputated). At 1:35 he stared out at the last bit of benign light hitting his town. At 6:00 pm, it would be gone.
The first lady of the town and a miserable socialite. This day would bring on a slew of shallow acquaintances, surreal tea parties, and unnecessary questions and answers at the Proud Feminist’s Association meeting at 5:30. She had kissed Mr. Garvey good-bye at 9:00 am and then immediately engulfed herself in reading the poetry submissions from the Town Tribune Editor’s Poetry Contest. That was all she owned the paper for since no news about lost and found pets, teenage vandals, and unorganized, purposeless bake sales excited her. She read to her hearts delight which ended at 11:30 am, surrendered to a bunch of ladies bickering about the audacity of the new principle at the high school and how he negligably/bravely detracted the student dress code. The only good thing that would happen to her today, and the worst thing that could possibly happen for her life, happened at 5:15 pm, when Dr. Garvey cancelled her 5:30 pm meeting and picked her up to take her to the gathering at Ms. Fontaine’s villa.
Waking up earlier than everybody else in the town was an achievement worth glorifying for Mr. Henry Dawson. It was actually one of the primary reasons for him to take up the principle’s job at one of the most average high schools in the state. He had to be up and at the school for the highly controversial morning staff meeting by the time parent’s would even start the drowsy walk down towards their children’s rooms. By being principle, he also got to know all the trouble makers in the town and now he could be more accurate in the assessment of his achievement because he knew which one of them would stay up till the late hours of the night. At 4:00, he would start his walk to school and count and cross check every illumination in the houses he passed with the addresses of the students on his weekly detention list. That day he had earned some kind of honor for getting rid of that whiny girl who kept bitching about the freedom of expression in his office. He would wrap up the school day, grab a beer at Wilson’s brewery, and head out to the evening event at Ms. Fontaine’s residence.
The Conversation at 6:00 pm
“Are the biscuits ready?”
“Yes ma’am, I’ll take them out of the oven, hot and fresh, right before dinner.”
“That’s perfect Mary and make sure the chairs are placed by the pool, I think Don had removed them last week.”
“Will do ma’am.”
“Go stand outside with the champagne for the guests as they enter.”
The Arrival of Mr. Abott
“Thanks for the champagne, Clarietta, but I don’t drink.”
“That’s quite alright Jeremy, I understand.”
“Oh Jeremy, stop being such a rock. It’s better to talk things out sometimes.”
“I thought I was coming to an evening of fine dining and conversa…”
“How’s Mrs. Abott doing now?”
The Arrival of Dr. and Mrs. Garvey
“Hello Doctor and hello, Mrs. Garvey, I must say, you are looking like such a darling today, I don’t know whether I should provide more compliments or shrivel up with envy.”
“That’s all fine and dandy Ms. Fontaine, but I have a matter of great urgency to discuss with you, and I would also like some champagne if you have any left.”
“Absolutely Doctor. Mrs. Garvey, why don’t you make yourself comfortable out by the pool, I’ll have Mary bring you over some tea.”
“Come with me, Mrs. Garvey.”
“Let’s talk out on the patio.”
“Ok, what is it Alfred?”
“The war is going to end at 7:00 and we are going to lose.”
“Don’t be absurd, Alfred, how is the war just goi…”
“The Russians just do the darnest things sometimes.”
“Where will it hit?”
“San Luis Obispo is the closest target, it will take 2 minutes for the fallout to reach here.”
“Move the chairs out here onto the patio.”
“Please take a seat Jeremy. Clarietta, why don’t you sit down as well. Alright, well, firstly I would like to thank Clarietta for the lovely arrangements this evening, if there was ever a grand way to go, this would definitely make it feel like that way. Secondly, I am sad to announce that in the next 5 minutes, we will be watching the last bit of light to touch our pupils accelerating towards us at, well the speed of light, accompanied by a 500 miles per hour windstorm of radiation.”
“No time for that now, Jeremy.”
“I’m sorry Jeremy, but that is the truth. Why don’t we put all this aside and just watch it happen, there’s no escaping this one folks.”
They all took a seat and looked out at the flat golden prairie riding its way into the dark shadows of the ridged and useless mountain range.
The Late Arrival & The Consequence
“Good evening, Mary told me I’d find you lot out here. What’s going on?”
“Just take a seat Dawson, the last thing I need to be hearing right now is your voice.”
“I didn’t mean nothing by it Mr. Abott.”
He took a seat and started scanning through the detention list.