THE TIMELESS ALLURE OF A MARASCHINO CHERRY
(No. 119) How the hard times began. Chapter 9 of The Lost City of Desire,
Under two minutes reading time.
This is chapter 9 of my novel, The Lost City of Desire. You can read the previous chapters here. I will publish chapter 10 next week. I’m so happy that you are reading my words.
Terence loved an audience. Especially an audience of novitiates that hadn’t already heard everything he had to say. People he could wow. So he went to the locked closet and got out the giant can of Mellow Yellow lemonade-flavored drink powder he’d scored years ago in the high school cafeteria across the street. He scooped some of the clumpy crystals into a pitcher and filled it with Hudson River water. The powder had lost its yellow tint, but it mixed well and he took the pitcher of white lemonade out into the garden on the side of The Libray. Joe looked up to see, miracle of miracles, Terence produce a jar of maraschino cherries from his pocket and put three in each glass.
“To the future!” he said, holding up his glass for a toast.
“To my new friends,” said Joe, lifting his own.
Joe took one of the cherries up towards his mouth.
“What the hell! I never tasted anything like this,” he said, the juice dripping down his chin. “Fantastic!”
“It ain’t iced, but it’ll do,” Terence said. “And anyways, you all don’t know ice from a hole in the ground, not anyway.”
“Not true,” Joe said. “Not true at all. We get ice all winter up where I’m from. But I never had lemonade.”
He drank deep, typical guy, and finished the glass in two sips. He held the glass upside down and kind of sucked the two remaining cherries out.
“Thirsty?” Terence asked.
Joe held out his glass and Terence poured him another one. No cherries this time.
“So you want to know how it all went down,” Terence said. “You want to know the inside scoop on the worst events in the history of the world – or something like that?”
It was the story of how New York City became a village, again.
“I remember walking through one of their towns in New Jersey, back when there were still Westerners there, before they moved beyond the wall. It was at the height of the sickness, and every 50 yards or so a loudspeaker ordered you to “Wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t go out.” The speakers weren’t coordinated, so the message would bounce through your head like a chorus of robots singing in the round. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t go out.”
He talked about how the city had emptied.
How a bunch of right wing white guys, American born lunkheads he called them, had formed a movement, like a religion, they called The Hard Fork. Over time they’d seceded from everything east of the Hudson, leaving behind all the land from the city all the way up to Lake Champlain and Vermont, and out to the end of Long Island. These Westerners, as they called themselves, eventually built a wall to protect themselves from everything New York. They blamed us for the virus, for everything. It wasn’t like New York and the rest of the territory resisted much. Each side wanted to pull as far away as possible.
But these Westerners couldn’t let well enough alone, even when they got what they wanted, Terence said. It was all about persecution.
How they’d demonized the New Yorkers.
How they killed the wolves.
How they shot anyone who crossed the wall.
But it was also about unexpected stuff.
And that was when we started spiraling downward.
“People don’t talk about it much anymore,” said Terence.
Joe nodded. He looked like a listener. Terence was going to get as much of it on the table as possible while Joe’s ears were wide open.
This is chapter 9 of my novel, The Lost City of Desire. You can read the previous chapters here. I will publish chapter 10 next week. Thank you for reading.
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