Bewildering Stories

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Made It Way Up

part 8: Voices

by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

Part 7 appears in this issue.


“Are you sure about this, man?”

“Hey. Which one of us is the rocket scientist?”

“Which one of us is an ass?”

“We could ask your daughter or my wife.”

“Kell would think we were talking about a donkey.”

“She’d know better. Essa’s bound to have taught her a few colorful metaphors by now..”


“That’s what they do when they go waltzing around the mountain or work in the garden. Kelly calls it her school.”

“Couldn’t ask for a finer one.”

“No, sir. I couldn’t. She could, but I couldn’t.”

“Kelly loves it here.”

“Yeah; she doesn’t know any better. Or worse. Or something.”



“Saw you guys going at it the other day.”

“You like that? I call it *shadow boxing*. Keeps me in good hammering shape.”

“Not many of those days left, now.”

“Are you kidding? This is just the beginning. The tip of the bullet.”

“Hollow-point? No, wait, I’ve got it: buck shot.”

“Go straight to hell; do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred bucks. I’m being serious, my friend. We’re going to have our own fleet by the time we get dragged ass upwards to heaven. A thousand burnished demigods of the sky.”

“Cut it out, man.”

“Sorry. But yeah. So Essa’s got a job, now.”

“Yeah, but you don’t.”

“I’m going to file a lawsuit. Place shouldn’t be able to fire me just for being crippled.”

“Help, help, I can’t reach the on switch and it’s your fault.”

“Bastard. I mean I would file a lawsuit if I thought it would do any good, which it won’t. And if I thought they had the money, which they don’t.”

“And it would mean you’d have to tell her, anyway.”

“How do you know I haven’t told her already?”

“You’re acting all optimistic. You only do that when she’s mildly pissed at you--”

“Which seems to be her natural state.”

“—but not when she’s got a good reason to be angry.”

“So says mister Psychology professor?”

“Not everyone’s an intellectual. Some people actually spent their time reading instead. And you obviously didn’t have much of an education in economics.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Had to spend everything to get the nitro from Cal. That was my whole check. So it’s peanut-butter and bread for the next month. Good thing she likes it.”

“That shit. He told me a hundred bucks even.”

“That’s what it was. At first. I guess he didn’t take quite such a liking to me.”

“What’s going on, Bern? Stuff with Patty?”

“Just money stuff, I guess. I told you how when I was a kid I used to have a terrible time spending my Christmas money. I knew I could only spend it once, and that made it feel like everything I wanted was just made of fireworks. Buy ’em, then use ’em up and they’re gone forever.”

“You’re the kid who walked around the parties on the Fourth with just a sparkler and a vague look of apprehension, aren’t you?”

“That’s my dim, dark past. Like three years ago. So. Essa.”

“What about her.”

“You haven’t told her you got fired.”

Let go. With compensation.”


“Yeah. A good reference.”


“Perfect timing, I say. Look at this: we’ve got a barn full of damn fine work. I’m just itching to get ’er out and really open ’er up.”

“Figure of speech.”


“I guess it’s okay, considering what we’re working with.”

“Two drunken slobs with girl troubles and pasts shut far away, embarking on short, flaming adventures in the heathen sky.”

“I didn’t hear you. I started getting indignant when you said drunken and stopped listening.”

“Sometimes I want to shoot you with a rivet gun.”

“We could have gotten these things to run on alcohol. Would have ended up cheaper in the long run.”


“There’s your economics schooling coming into play again. She’s been teaching Kelly?”


“What sorts of things?”

“She used to be a school teacher; did you know that?”

“Had no idea. Must have been a bitch to have.”

“Hey now. That’s the woman I love.”

“No really: she’s like the one that makes the whole class learn that poem about Paul Revere and won’t let anybody out the door to recess until he’s finished everything on his lunch tray.”

“Actually... no. Never mind. I think she just talks to Kelly, actually.”

“What; coherently? This is my daughter?”

“I guess so.”

“That must get boring after a while.”

“It’s just about time for me to go get her.”

“You going to tell her?”

“She’s mad enough about this.”

“And waiting will make her less mad?”

“I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far.”

“Anger? Flames? Makeup melting; heat pouring off of face.”

“What was it Yeats thought. Every two thousand years?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Some literature thing, right?”


“Damn you and your... damn you, renaissance man.”

“Right. I think it was two thousand years. He thought the world died and was reborn, or something like that. That history repeats itself in a sort of spiral.”

“I think he missed.”

“I think he had his sights set a bit too wide. This is all we’ve got. Now.”

“While you’re consumed with zeal, may I have your wife?”

“Take her. But you’ve got to go pick her up.”

“You don’t want that. Hey, she’ll say. What are you doing here? Where’s my hunk of a husband? There will be a gleam in her eye, inextinguishable. I’ll be forced to tell her that you are licking your wounds at home, trying to flash fry your insecurities with liquid fuel. She’ll be forced to settle with the best and let me have my way with her right there.”

“I won’t pay, you know.”

“I can handle that.”

“Bet you can.”

“Hey, man. Just joking.”

“You don’t need to tell me that.”

“I know. You just got quiet.”

“I do that from time to time.”

“Losing that optimism?”

“I’ll catch you after dinner.”

“Yeah, all right.”

To be continued...

Copyright © 2004 by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

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