The Flat Hour

...narrating one hour television, without distinguishing between the story and the advertising...

         Station identification. An office. An officer. A watermark. A man on the sidewalk, mouth open, eyes closed, crowned in blood.

The names of the actors. How to care for your lawn. Pizza. Clothes for your children when they go to school. An investigation. Evidence, blackened and misshapen, placed in plastic bags. A manila folder. Men and women in a dark room, working at computers, submerged within pools of blue and green light. A revelation. A heated argument, in which sexual tension roils beneath the surface. The woman seems more attractive than before. Lotion, in a white room, on a white woman, in a white towel. This car goes fast, cuts through mountains, traverses deserts, breaks the glassine waters of shallow pools and the stars reflected therein, and keeps your children safe. This robot will clean your kitchen floor. The man goes undercover. The bar is an aquarium, filled with colors and shadows, and men and women swimming in and out of one another. Naked flesh of unspeakable beauty pours through outstretched palms. The man goes to the bar and is nervous. The bottles behind the bar, lit from beneath, resemble a city seen through the window of a jet plane at night. The man and the bartender exchange false names. Money moves over and under. The package contains something but is not the right size. Someone finds the wire. A gun is drawn, and then another, and there is fire and hatred and music, and people falling, dancing, disappearing into one another. Several men run downstairs, through a heavy door, into an alley, past windows the color of opaque amber. There could be anything behind those windows. Morning sunlight. Bandages. Recriminations and reports. You should not pay too much money for a new muffler. Fresh coffee and donuts. An invitation to visit Puerto Rico. The hurricane is coming to Cuba. An unexpected visit, memories of the old relationship, and the possibility of a kiss. Departing through the front door slowly, without looking back until she closes it behind him, the man gets into his car. It is an older model. An office. An officer. A new manila folder, different from the last one. A series of numbers. An unexpected voice on the other end. A fist hits the top of the desk. The coffee is quaffed, the cup tossed into the trash. Cars with sirens close in on the building. Men and women in uniform emerge in a widening array, like embers floating on the surface of spilled oil. Men are pushed to the ground and handcuffed. Men are yelling in Spanish. Mahogany and scotch on the rocks. Heavy books on the shelf. Witnesses. Arguments and rebuttals. A hammer falls. A woman weeps. A man forgets to shave. Bars close over someone’s face. Life in prison for selling drugs. Drugs to cure your allergies. Drugs to relieve arthritis. At long last, after so many years, drugs to make you happy again. Drugs to help you sleep.

Andrew S. Taylor is currently the Associate Editor of Menda City Review. His fiction has appeared in Pindeldyboz, Ellery Queen, Mad Hatter's Review, Cafe Irreal, Mudluscious, Sein und Werden, Peridot Books, Menda City Review, and is forthcoming in The Dream People. He has also contributed non-fiction to American Book Review, Cold Type, Ghetto Blaster Magazine, and Anime Insider. He lives in Brooklyn NYC with his wife.

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