Noon

1.

 

Overnight, a million nooses appeared from deep sky, and all through the morning they came down, these long fish hooks lowered from a peerless blue...

These hours descended slowly as falling angels, clean and out of blue, each bearing, in their oakum loop, as gifts of frankincense and manna, a beautiful promise of blue...

School was cancelled for the day, and my little brother Tomo and I stayed in bed, looking out the high window.

The sky had risen, it was predicted that something would come in and kill ourselves. When I went to get oyster crackers, the faint stars of morning bulged and burst, spurting streams of white pus through the empyrean blue, which trickled over the city skyline, were dissolved in the silvery glow’s horizon.

By Noon, the city had reached its apotheosis, the real victory of self-consciousness. Swarms of noose, teeming like worms, touched down; flowed and pooled in so many noodly messes that, up to one’s armpits in rope, through the sloshing streets one had to wade, linking arms and in pairs.

Beneath the vast blue expanse, the automatic traffic came to a standstill, appeared self-aware; the city stood in hesitant silence. Although none had heard of a wind in forever, a breeze blew, and the masses of hanging noose, bumped here and there, brushing against one another; waving, washing...and in their midst, alone and faraway, a wind-chime, ting-ing, cluttered ding-a-ling...

Father and Mother roamed through our high apartment, checking their iPhones, sneaking glances out the window that returned hypnotized in blue, their eyes alight with a numinous joy.

‘No school tomorrow, either...’ Father said, kneading the hand of his wife. She asserted that when so divine a tempest had descended, and on a city so becalmed, it was actually immoral!, not to take advantage of it. ‘And can you remember the last time we saw any weather? I’d think myself to be a child then...’

She had a point. Our city had so well programmed itself that even the dome of the sky fell under its dominion. There was never weather. A certain numbness preserved our city, as a land perfected on a hill. The streets were orderly. Everyone was given over to an endless leisure in a time without sleep, accompanied by sweet, timeless, monotonous skies.

 

***

 

This Noon weather, though, was a bit strange. If you stretched your head through the loop of a noose, up you would go, lazily into the sky like a lost balloon. Tomo and I, from behind a window, saw our neighbors rising skyward, their bodies flopping like fish on invisible hooks, rising above the skyscrapers and clearing into pure space, all the while twisting along the rope’s axis as whirligigs in bored afternoons; or waking up halfway through and, perhaps regretting their decision, dancing ecstatically like fresh trout. ‘So many fishies!’ Tomo said. ‘Goodbye, goodbye!’

‘Isn’t that Father?’ I asked.

Our parents, knotted together at the neck, were floundering in the air, the marital blue behind them. It seemed they had gone out walking and decided against returning.

It was too bad. We were actually very sad.

 

***

 

So many people were being raptured that day, so many having their hearts’ desire. But suicide was becoming quite boring, no longer worth getting rapturous over, nothing to get out of bed for. It was not at all original to climb the ladders of sky, since the stars, and their broken shells, were giving very obvious directions. And there were times when the strange weather simply demanded it. If a midday breeze blew apart a veil of air, you might spy something there as like a revelation; and no sooner marked by its beauty, your neck rests upon the wide bosom of sky.

The day passed quietly, exuding a sense of sparkling clarity and saintly cleanliness. The airplanes went pirouetting through the air scrawling out messages of thanks, for the grace that faith had longed for. The radio hummed quietly as to itself, a euphoric madman: ‘...and it did take God a while, no doubt. But everyone’s just happy he finally got around to what he promised, the secret covenant at last. We totally agree it was about time he undid his errors, washed the world in erasure.’

The news droned on, never new. We waited for something more peculiar to occur. A sense of finality would have been the ne plus ultra. All that those upflying disturbances left in their wake were tall stalagmites of air, clear and pure as glass, into which, if you dipped your ear, you would merely hear the raptured yet gurgling, strung up in an endless ascent toward death. It was said that only a few had managed to die.

The radio, when it got word of this, assured us: ‘But this is merely a minor glitch. Not unexpected. After all the Infinite himself has no noose strong enough for himself...though it should be hoped, and we are all together at this hour, that there are nooses strong enough for our souls...’

No one made lunch, as Mother wasn’t home. I didn’t really feel like eating. The day had never been very interesting.

I wanted very badly to go outside and try what everyone else was trying, to shoot myself into the sky. Indeed, in my imagination I had already accustomed myself a thousand times to going up like a balloon, to setting sail across a shoreless blues, hopefully drowning where no one would hear...

Ah, but I am doomed to never get what I really want. As soon as I push open the fifth-floor window, Tomo clung onto my leg, anchoring me to the floor. I complained that this impedes my highest desire, that he was being very childish. But he said No, he was not. ‘And why should I be noosed to the earth,’ I asked, ‘tethered by a little brother who’s probably not even real?’

‘You are not to be not!’ he cried.

His rascally pun caught me off guard; my brother used every tactic in the book. Though smaller, he clawed with his nails, hitting groin and eye—wrestling for my extremely dear life.

I got a leg over the window-sill; but no sooner, he reached over, and as to end a game almost out of hand with a power he could easily have exerted before, hit a tendon on my thigh, laming me. When even then, limping, I tried to kick him against the wall, he began to cry, which was even more irritating.

‘Brother!’ he cried. He said that I was his only brother, it was not nice for me to go. I would leave again and not bring him, which was very unfair.

Supposedly, I was always doing things like that.

 

 

***

 

During the afternoon, when Mother usually sedated Tomo with a nap, we instead watched the sky through the window and ate udon noodles at my desk. Tomo sat on my lap, a steaming lacquer bowl in his hands, and I helped him eat. When a noose poked its head through our window, we batted it away with our chopsticks, on which a noodle writhed like a worm.

‘Obviously, we are eating,’ Tomo informed the noose.

The afternoon was clean and blue, quiet and of clear air, as if underneath a pillow. We could hear the distant honks of cars, the humming of far away churches, and in the middle distance, the soft swaying of rope, of swings scree-cree and suicide, a suicide of summer and gurgling bodies, slowly swinging away the long, heavenly afternoon...

 

***

 

And all around the city the skyscrapers start to crumble. These skyscrapers, made of glass, shine like the sad noon sky, a symbol of humanity’s sterile flourishing, its reaching for the apex stars and finally attaining its uplifting apotheosis.

But if by chance you rubbed away a patch of walls, you would uncover, like the magic lotto number of a scratch-away ticket, a giant hidden within the skyscraper.

As if mankind had always kept under his tall dress of steel a lovely beast of apocalypse, warm to his heart...

The window cleaner Enoch is seen as if in the sky.

He uses the arrays of noose to travel along the sides of a nearby skyscraper. His foot catching on an opened loop, as a monkey in a jungle of vines, he swings upside-down and along, jogging through the walkways of rope; and since in the background the skyscrapers rise blue and bright as sky, he appears a man freely walking the empyreans, liberated from blue. As soon as his foot steps off, the rope jerks skyward and is gone...

All afternoon, he worked from here to there, wiping the glass skin of the skyscraper, cleansing the sins of man, a grimy rag passing over his soapy blue reflection.

At one stop, he hung upside-down by his foot; sponging and scrubbing he accidentally uncovered an eyelash of a giant. It swung out of the opened glass and licked him along the face. The last we heard of him, he slept blissfully in blues on high.