Under the Parking Lot

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to make it annoyingly clear that I hate winter. I know I’ve made promises to people that I’ll try to get along with winter…and I have. I’ve actually gotten out of bed a few times. Like right now. I put on clothes and buried myself in a winter parka. I went into the the parking lot, into the frigid January daylight which, as soon as I stepped outdoors, turned to overcast skies, and a sub-zero wind that would lay a membrane of frost around Hell whipped out of the frozen air.

“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “Like my new coat?”

Damn fox was wearing a mink coat.

“You do understand that you might be related to that coat, don’t you?”

“Are you giving the fox a hard time again, Biff?”

I looked behind me. Floating in the air in lotus position and wearing a 10 gallon hat full of steaming hot water from which pipes extended to form a circular heating system around him was J. Richard Jacobs, aka J. He wore a housecoat with a ninja turtle motif.

“J,” I said. “So, that really was you the other day, sitting on my kitchen counter.”

“Yes, Biff, it was. I read your blog and realized that the fox wasn’t making your life miserable enough. It takes an editor make life truly painful for a writer…even one like you, who just barely meets the qualifications for being literate and can’t follow simple formatting standards.”

“Biff,” said the fox, “J and I talked about your plans and your purpose for being. We decided that your search for peace was…well, you know…kind of futile. I mean, look around. Nobody wants peace anymore. There’s no money in it. There’re no movies in it. And besides, people like hating each other.”

“We don’t necessarily like our conclusions,” said J, “but, yes, the fox is right…we put more effort into hating than we do into loving.”

“Hating is more profitable,” said the fox. “And it makes for better best sellers.”

“People have more fun hating than loving,” said J. “Haven’t you ever watched reality TV? It’s what we’ve become.”

“It’s all a big TV show with bad script writers,” said the fox.

“So we’ve decided that you need to focus your less than ample talents on something else,” said J.

I felt like I was between a brick wall and a thousand foot precipice with flying demons trying to bite my ass off. “OK,” I said. “I’m game. What should I focus on?”

The fox and J went silent. They looked at each other. They looked around. They looked at me. They looked back at each other. They looked up. They looked down. They looked all around. J started to speak…but looked up instead. The fox scratched his head…and looked at J.

J suddenly smiled and beamed and the pipes surrounding him tooted.

I swear…they tooted.

“I have an idea,” he said. The fox snapped to attention. I dropped my forehead into my right palm. This was going to be bad. I mean…he tooted.

“Biff,” he said, “it’s time for you to come to grips with winter.

***

There followed two hours of silence as J’s words tumbled around inside my head trying to fall into some kind of coherent meaning. J and the fox stared at me during this time. Just…stared.

***

There followed another two hours during which I chased J and the fox around the parking lot, needing desperately to beat both of them to death with my camera.

***

Just as I was about to bring my camera down onto the head of the mink-coated fox, a lid in the parking lot flipped down and I fell into the paving.

How did I never notice this before? I thought.

I tumbled through a tunnel under the parking lot, thinking, This is probably how Alice must have felt.

It seemed like I tumbled for several minutes that turned into several hours and turned into days and into months…and entire lifetimes flashed by my right and my left and right through my head and body as I tumbled into the openings of void after void and I thought: How did I not know this about the parking lot?

Eventually, I landed, camera in hand, on the walking bridge. So I took a couple of pictures before the other two figured out where I was and set out to torment me.

And I still hate winter.

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