The Hills Round Here


The book explained how civilization placed our eyes behind a TV, book or computer every second of the day until those balls of goop struggled to remember anything about distance.  I flipped it shut.  It was true, my eyes ached.  In the fields below a herd of buffalo stampeded by.  Or mice, I really couldn't tell—some brown and furry things.  Our windshield was keeping the wind out brilliantly until Henry got distracted and it switched to keeping me inside.  "That's it Henry!" I said from the dashboard, "that's the last straw.  Congratulations."  But then I tracked his gaze over to a group of bank robbers in antelope masks.  Police were arresting them as they leapt through the air, using some kind of clown car technology; only two squad cars but the cops just kept bursting out like popcorn.  The day faded as the hoards of police swarmed over them, tearing off their clothes and masks until we could see the frightened animals inside.  Someone had decided it was time for night and the sun, hurrying to catch up, cracked on a mountain crag and all its shimmery gunk fell out.  Even now the mountain top glowed in unholy colors, just like the Magic Crystal Gardens my brother constructed in our basement.  They were just colored salt crystals growing stupidly on plastic sticks, but he loved them.  In the morning, the mountain men gathered up all that gunk, scooping it into the same jars they used for honey and jams, then sold them in town for ridiculously low prices.  Had these mountain people heard nothing of modern economics?  I, myself, traded an old boot for two jars.  I felt exhilarated, as if I had just gotten away with robbery.  And yet, I couldn't help but admire these mountain men with their stone hands and gigantic beards; beards that recalled some earlier time of seriousness and simplicity.  With a beard like that, could there be any doubt my ax would cleanly split the trunks of my enemies?  Of course, my soft skin has never been able to form anything respectable in that department.  I've been trying for twenty-five years.  But if I could.  
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