All Along the Banks of the Londangeles

by Francis Parrilli

When we finally bypassed the need for the Temps Atomique International, the urban strata of necessary dwelling spilled out into a trans-international coupling of cultural leisure. While some of the old human hang-ups remain (Cumberland sausage with gravy, peas, and fried onions, or a nine inch stretch with chili), the efforts of re-socialization through structural systems have greatly changed the ground rules in the battle of the physical psychology of man vs. environment. Individuality runs dreamlike-rampant while a race once laid prisoner to the random follies of past architecture now claim witness to a final merging of the metropolis of appearance.

Jonathan—with dirt-dredded tufts of sheep underbelly-coated bomber collar stretched by the winds--cruises on his electric scooter underneath the interwoven tentacle trestles that balanced discretely over the ebb. His taut frame hugging curves went noticed by friends’ mothers and shop girls not yet dulled by tourists pretending they had always been there. He often comes here, too-casually smoking with his left hand, touching his face too often, letting the gulls apply their qualms to his sensitive disposition. Other young men straddle the multi-colored girders unaware of his glance, knuckling his excitement hidden by the worn leather shielding dense forearms from the heat pouring over the corridors of general use. Under the tower’s cabling, the sway plays to his imagination, letting the guys appear like metallic saints tip-toeing across the Fibonacci sequencing of his unknown future. The birds, with their subtle understanding, move on to the older woman in plastic socks with her sprouted loaf and an appreciation for the passing tight moons in denim.

Mr. Atwater careens aimlessly through the aluminum arcades of downtown’s new expansive edges hoping his employees can hold things down just long enough for him to balance relative sanity. The furniture store seemed like a good idea at the time, when Mrs. Atwater was first pregnant and still beautiful. Since the final expansion had taken place and settled into a profitable venture, he found himself becoming less rigid with the staff and even accepting for their desires of expression. The bubbled pavilions bustled with activity and the sacred arches of connectivity were forthright and yet soothing; a soft meshing of material that had the strength to hold up millions of individual souls. A round man himself, low and close to the ground, with nine children awaiting his nightly return to the Ponderosa table adequate for up to twelve that dominated their modest housing. These emotions made sense to him. This thought, the same one he processed everyday came to an end, dictating his satisfaction in the moment and beckoning him to return to his more responsible duties. At the same time, he noticed a coin on the asphalt drawing the attention of those passing by and gentle gossamer weave that caught the same light that sparkled in the drop of tear cascading down the indulgent ridge of his cheek.

Her husband is the one with the domed skull and dents, although currently, and for the last twenty years he has been in the basement with copper plates radiating the songs of harmonica or deep harangue. Mrs. Clarke and her mannerisms are softly talking to the silhouettes in the cafe because it is lunchtime and once again she wasn’t invited by her peers to participate in outside interaction. Her lipstick creates faded vowels on porcelain. She traces her initials on the long, low ceilings of a mid-level tier, M.C. she says, if only she could reach the next level. Today, her usual conservative raspberry blouse emphasizes her loneliness as she strolls out into the bustle of the arcade. Maybe she’ll take the afternoon off, she thinks, but when the youth spilling from a neighboring pub ogle her preserve-inspired ensemble she turns back to the subsonic repository that houses the swathes of evergreen where she places her tailbone in a crevice as if to lean so she can finally breathe.

Little Muse counts the oval bounces of her balloon sliding upward against the concrete framing, her miniature digits still flexing above her head—the dirigible helium-drunk and waving at the mirrored waterway reflecting her hazel eyes in the parallel edifices of glass. Her mother is a few yards away, gripping the communal balustrade while trying to have a pleasant conversation with a stranger in a zoomorphic patterned button-up; the elevation of the pier’s second story puts a certain weakness in her knees. A pleasure taken, no doubt, but of no current use to the child. Little Muse shifts her gaze to the zip-lining couriers with their majestic heights, while they are some considerable distance away, she understands their smiles are expressions of great importance. She takes small steps across the promenade, focusing on that silver streak moving amongst the clouds, chasing the altitude of the horizon, and trying to squeeze the object between her little thumbs. A buckle strap on her shoe is loose and drags across the meteorite tiles. She wonders if her mother is smiling at her, but when she looks back, the stranger’s mouth obscured her vision.

He would walk over the pier, big steps and bare toes, regardless of the month, catching the eaves and swell while longshoremen spit in the nooks of the rowed new vegetation. Richard Ferris Sr. enjoys the sprawling melting pot of the CALIFUK seaside. After a pint at Uncle Darrow’s he’ll take the long way around to meet his wife’s sister for a quick stroll around the docks looking for a boat abandoned for the day. He still wears a watch on his wrist, though the era of his life in which he needed to be accountable for temporal realities has long passed. Ferris Sr. whistles at the ladies taking the shortcut across the bow to beat the shop lines and they flaunt and show him jowl all while keeping perfectly in stride. They disappear into the well-spun mob of movers. He likes to dip his hand in the Thames and then run it across the sunbaked stuff, creating steam before the sister of his wife turns up, whenever that may be. The anchor waits unabashed. He doesn’t know she is pregnant, though he won’t be surprised.

The arts of Bournemouth had a profound effect on her moods; today she was channeling ballerina but with a garter flask strapped inside her undulating thigh. Chantal’s commute was just a short dash through the courtyard playing host to endless dramas of human frailty and whim. The scratch marks and bruises had already internalized. She’s dancing past the crystal-opiate panels that took two hundred men to hoist and install. She knew none of them although she can clearly define the markings on their palms, as a seer would see the final battle, or the scientist spot Eureka. She stops to masticate a non-native Palm, and while calculating the density of its fruit, Chantal knows she could will its harvest if only she dare say so. This role play happens between the two of them every Monday through Friday but never on bank days. The thin line of grapefruit-hued lip gloss she applies on these stated days matches the drapes of the interior lounges full of the very same men who made her sturdy calves change color depending on her mode and spirit. It was on bank days, and only then that she was complete.

Veronica crosses herself before the hips of the Londangeles River come clearly into focus while her heels clap in nervous approval of a new day’s christening. She once tumbled in head over knee, knee over railing. The railing, overdue for an overhaul, but still placed perfectly to prevent such an act. She dares not touch a thing; the erratic bleeding that sometimes occurs keeps her away from the boundaries created by the powers that be. She wants something to eat and pulls out a wafer, leaving it to dissolve on her parched tongue, a slight film remaining on the lowest row of uneven teeth. A small Aquarian, a sardine or Swallow-fin bounds from its watery lair to bid her good-day but is distracted. A hint of Beaujolais in her gums and the catwalks come to her like clouds pierced with light. The symbol fills her chest; it creeps amongst the bobbing pylons before moving her lower limbs to act in a manner of heavenly bounding.

Roland, despite a large breakfast of gee and honeycomb, grows restless with the idea of an empty pail come noon. He’ll be working on the CALIFUK Eye with some chap named Mitch who never combs his hair. Roland likes things clean. Clean like the morphing steels on display, pleased with the rabatment of the triangle. The tuning fork in his left front pocket hums to pitch. Polishing his teeth with it, he proposes to overhead beams. Filling the hems with large cities and pub cheese--speckled with clove and lavender in the linings to offset the remains--he fondles their smooth angle-less curves as he climbs over drip caps and seamless rivets. He brushes past the gawkers, up to where the spirals of the city pop the electric noise of upper atmosphere. A sudden vibration explodes in his collarbone, adding a twitch to his neck and a curl to his lip. Halting before sweeping down his slacks and boots, the result is an effective loss of his lunch. The sun bores into the skull, a balloon, now stripped of all its charm, smacks into his chin; a boat hauls in her rowers. Mitch smears a thin coat of horseradish and brie on the bridge of his nose. A persimmon lies one hundred feet or more down below, cracked and juiced before the edge of a luscious fountain while the sky eclipses into another tomorrow, a Monarch orange like the end of pliable days.


Image: The Tower Pier by Satoru Sugihara, ATLV. Rendering by Polyhedron Studio.