Show White at Code Yellow
by Richard Baldasty
Sub-zero in the deep forest. Freezing sleet downtown. Black ice on Turnpike 10. When seven little men, all first responders, hustle off to work before dawn, they caution their pretty albino refugee to admit nobody into the cottage. Today could bring another practice drill or the Real Thing.
She gazes out an open window toward a looming peak she recognizes as either tranquil solemnity or a volcano secretly primed to blow. Each morning: fresh ambiguities, much hanging in abeyance. And her mind, they said in rehab, entirely too available, ripe for cockamamie stories from meth heads on the street. Talking mirrors, a huntsman hired to lure wayward girls to vivisection.
Even basics aren’t so very. Coffee: jump start to hours of genius or sixteen ounces chemical contaminants courtesy of globalization? Which to grab first? Oxygen mask above my head, flotation device beneath my seat? Armageddon, has the countdown begun? Floods filling deserts, flames across eroding glaciers—rare still yet not unknown. Is there something vaguely off-putting about that homeless woman hawking Golden Delicious this direction up the lane?