A Short Story...

It’s a Sunday afternoon, you’re sitting at home alone, your mind running concentric loops around itself, unengaged until you suddenly find yourself wondering if we’re coming to the end of the world... 

Looking to shock your senses out of submission, you stumble outside and strike out into America, aging and anxious and aggressively apathetic America, to see if there’s anything left to see... You haven’t been out like this for a while; still, it doesn’t take long to dawn on you that all the real places are gone... Entire communities have been overtaken by scalawags and carpetbaggers, self-sufficiency swamped in the predatory swell of profit-seeking, endless edge cities sprawling ravenous and insatiable across the given landscape, human consciousness subsumed in the bloat of subdivided nirvana...

You make a wrong turn, or a turn that would be wrong if you knew where you were going, but you’ve been lost since you took a hard right at the abandoned strip mall where the cow pasture used to be... You’re lost in a spaghetti network of dead ends and cul-de-sacs, where every house is identical and all the streets are named for one of the natural features they displaced — Wildwood Trail, Beaver Brook Trace, Bobwhite Circle, Leaping Fawn Lane, and on and on in a litany of imminent extinction... The sun is so bright it hurts your eyes and the grass is the most remarkable shade of chemical green... 

By the time you find a road that goes somewhere, it’s the middle of the night... You’re tired and hungry, low on gasoline and high on indignation, unable to tell east from west because the North Star has been rendered invisible by a three-dimensional electric billboard advertising patriotism as the cure for erectile dysfunction... You’re so distracted by the glare that you lose control of the car and crash through the picture window of the last used bookstore for a thousand miles... You’re knocked cold, out for you don’t know how long, and when you come to, the first thing your eyes can focus on is a dog-eared copy of Love in the Ruins, come to rest where the radio used to be... Then you hear a voice and you wonder if it’s God, but it’s only the proprietor, who come to think of it bears a striking resemblance to what you’ve always imagined God might look like... 

You open your mouth to apologize, but find yourself speaking a language that doesn’t exist... But the proprietor understands, and he smiles and says it was bound to happen sooner or later, what with the glue melting, the horse out of the barn and the harvest passed... Then he asks what title it is you’re looking for... You look down and see that you have a pencil and a piece of paper in your hands and you’re writing something: the words “Room Enough”... 

You wonder what it means, but he looks at the paper, and then back at you, nodding knowingly... Then, from nowhere and everywhere, it fills your head: A sound familiar and new at the same time, like nothing you’ve ever heard and everything you’ve ever listened to, a sound that stands alone and contains multitudes... You look at the proprietor, who smiles again, and says, “Music for the end of the world,” and you know without asking that you are listening to The Burnells.