Image © Adi Gelbart 2020
|by Adi Gelbart||March 25, 2020|
Clouds are moving in from the east. They are carrying supplies: candles, conditioners, dry pastas, frozen gnocchi, cream cheese, mineral water (both kinds), sneakers, canned leggings, vintage issues of Penthouse, Matchbox Audi Quattros, pigs. The clouds rain down the supplies. A direct hit from any of the cascading items is lethal, thanks to the momentum they build as they free-fall from the sky.
The smarter people always cast their nets as soon as the first cloud builds up—in anticipation. The smarter people always wear helmets—just in case. The smarter people later sell the items on Ebay. With the money, they go on vacations—not vanity vacations; vacations that nourish the soul. They rest, become even smarter.
For those staying behind, the Yacht Club is closing—too many accidents in one year. The students are not to blame. It’s the instructors who are at fault. They spend entire classes discussing naval themed TV-shows, neglecting to teach the basics. As a result: the students either drown or run into the walls of the river.
Ice cream is still very much popular everywhere and so is pizza. The mayors of the larger cities are independently conducting citywide surveys: “If you had the choice to abolish one or the other, which would it be? Ice cream or pizza? Assume all flavors are at risk.”
The voting goes relatively smoothly. Turnout is impressively high. There are lines outside some of the precincts, but, all in all, order is maintained. Some wise-guy citizens tick neither of the boxes on the ballot, instead going for a write-in of Schnitzel or Spinach or Spam. They are quickly seized and transported to town square, where they are executed by way of a firing squad (or alternatively by hanging or the electric chair—the method varying across state lines). The citizens are happy to see the instigators fast-tracked through the justice system; well spent taxpayer’s dollars, they tell themselves. All incumbent mayors will win reelection at term’s end, and by considerable margins.
There is a flood at the Yacht Club. Someone left the faucet running in the ladies’ room over the weekend. The police suspect the lovable janitor and arrest him, but he provides a solid alibi.
The clouds rain down smartphones, though the models are already three years old; cheap Chinese knockoffs. The smarter people strip them for parts, sell them to the Europeans. It is summer in Europe and the Europeans are confused. The Europeans are all vacationing in Europe, but not in their country of origin. Spanish people are vacationing in Germany and vice-versa, Norwegians in Portugal and so on.
When a novel Coronavirus strikes, the Yacht Club is hit the hardest. It has only just reemerged from the flood and everything is still moist to the extreme. The Coronaviruses love the moisture, they find it comfy. The lovable janitor is one of the first people to go—dies of heart failure. The community mourns him in between bouts of over-shopping.
In a seeming show of celestial empathy, the clouds are now showering only bare necessities: hand sanitizers, face masks, toilet paper, Netflix subscriptions, rice.
Across the street from the Yacht Club, a man and a woman—total strangers—share an umbrella to protect their bodies from the raining necessities. It is not recommended to huddle in such intimate proximity during a Corona outbreak, but only one of them owns an umbrella and would not leave the other one unprotected. Later that day, they kiss. The umbrella is red.
The lovable janitor is cremated. Due to federally imposed health restrictions, people are barred from attending the ceremony. His burnt remains rise up through the chimney of the crematorium and drift away from the indifferent earth. As they reach the necessities in the clouds, one of the embedded Coronaviruses is caught in the mesh of an N95 face mask. This will be his purgatory.
“What say you in your defense?”
“No hablo ingles!”
“That’s gotta be the fakest Mexican accent I’ve heard in my life, Corona—if that’s even your real name. . .”
“No hablo ingles, señor.”
“How about the word disinfectant—you understand that?”
“Desinfectante?! No, señor! Sin desinfectante, por favor! Tenga compasión!”
The man and the woman spend the night together. In the morning they stare into each other’s eyes for hours in disbelief; who would have thought they could still actually feel.
If their romance survives the pandemic, they’ll be walking the streets in each other’s arms one randomly sunny day. The smarter people will pass them by, scratching their heads in confusion.
Adi Gelbart is a musician, writer, and animator based in Berlin. He has released more than twenty EPs and LPs on different labels. His latest literary work is the surrealist sci-fi novel Egglike. You can find him online at gelbartcorp.com