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Allen Clarke Allen Clarke
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After Everything Else Has Been Said and Done

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After listening to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I felt strangely compelled to attempt to express the inexpressible Day of Judgement.

Entry One

     The world was silent. No one could speak on that day. Ulterior motives, unspoken thought or contemplative actions became suddenly insignificant and aborted. Nothing mattered anymore, except self preservation. Major plans now became erased marks on chalkboards. Detailed vacation itinerary were suddenly tossed out the window. All living beings waited...crouched, with shallow breath, desperate for a sign...any sign of explanation as to what had happened. Quiet terror stood at every doorway. All communication went off grid. Radio signals faded out in distant memory in a heartbeat. On the other side of the globe, the world became awe-struck. The earth was plunged into a mysterious shroud of darkness.If perchance, some lonely being were standing on the moon, it saw the earth mired in a black, bottomless pool.It was as if some giant hand had snuffed out the Candle of the World.

    No birds in the air broke out with their usual cheery song. Nature, itself seemed to be in a state of astonishment. It was as though She wanted to go and hide away...away, from Something that She could not understand. It was as if all living things had quietly anticipated that this Day would come sooner or later. And now that it was finally here, it caught one in the throat with unnerving, swift realization. It was inevitable.The writing had been on the wall for quite some time now. This Day had finally arrived.

Entry Two

     The couple woke with a start. She gasped, suddenly fully awake. Shaking cobwebs off from her comatose hibernation, she peered out of her blankets into her house. It was strangely darkened.

     " Honey...what is it?"
     " The power is out"
     " Hang on, I'll go check the breakers"
     The man drew back the sheets and his feet hit the cold hardwood floor. He shuffled toward the power box. She heard sharp clicking sounds echoing across the cold, dank hardwood. Moments later, he emerged from the murky shadows.
     " Must be a power outage"
     " What about the neighbors? Are their lights out too?" She slurred words, as if speaking through a mental fog.
    " I can't tell", he said squinting across the yard. And, for a fleeting moment, he thought he saw some movement in the distant trees.Then, he quietly dismissed, whatever it may have been, as the wind playing on his mind.The truth was, he didn't want to alarm her.

      " What you talking about?" She finally emerged from under a cocoon of warmth.
     " It's still dark out there, but not so dark that I can't see if there's power on anywhere"
     Slowly she made her way out to the bay window. Her husband stood there, motionless, as if catatonic.
     " Honey,there's...dead birds..all over the front yard"
     " Yeah, what is this? Twilight Zone?"
     " What's going on?"
     " That is unusual"
     " Wha...what?"
     " The second hand on my watch backwards"
     " Get, get outa here! Are you going totally Hitchcock on me? Listen, if this is one of your stupid pranks, I'll..."
     " No, look at that " He motioned toward the clock on the mantle. The quiet tick-tock indicated 1:32 pm. The second hand was inching backwards as well.
      And then she saw it herself. It was irrefutable proof. She shook her head as if to shake off what her eyes were telling her.The goddamn clock was going backwards!! And, in a stupidly inspired moment, she came out with the jewel.
     " Well, look on the bright side. At this rate, does that mean. we're going to grow younger?"

Entry Three

     The couple sat looking out the bay window, wondering. For a few moments, he considered firing up the Bar-b, but the lazy man won the day.It appeared that they were powerless to make any kind of warm breakfast.At least not by conventional means. Instead, they foraged and found some cold cereal.A carton of milk, hidden in the recesses of their food supply, was still cool so they had corn flakes. And,fortunately,the man had conserved some coffee in a thermos the night before. He found it before she did.  Good-naturedly, the woman wrestled it away from him. Pouring herself a cup, she luxuriated in the relaxed moment. He followed in turn. Finding comfort in the steaming cups of stale coffee, they started to reassess.

     " Well, what do you think, old gal?" With cup in his left and his right hand on his knee, he squinted off into the distance. He had the look of a man surveying unfamiliar territory.
     " Don't talk to me like I'm some old prune. You condescending old goat!"she laughed.
     " Sorry, my love"
     " Seriously "she said,"What's the plan, man of the house?"
     " I knew you'd start to see things my way, sooner or later" He stood up, pulled on his belt buckle and assumed a position of postured authority.
     " Screw you, you old fart!" She threw a fat pillow at his head but he artfully dodged out of its' way.

They wrapped up in a couple of throws. Within an hour, one could see the tell-tale frost of breath. He had half-hoped that the power would kick in momentarily. It never happened. Therefore, he sat and pondered their pathetic dependence on modern conveniences. After all, these were the frills they had often taken for granted.

     " You don't know what you got till it's gone". It was her thinking aloud again.
     " What?" This time, it was the man of the house.
     " Did you pay the power bill?"
     " I was beginning to wonder when you were going to start accusing me"
     " Aw, come on, don't be such a big cry-baby!"She said with a half hidden smirk on her lips.
     " Well, I suppose during times of crisis, my dear, someone has to take the fall"
     " Aw...poor baby" she ribbed him where his male ego hurt.

The day wore on without power.The couple grew increasingly restless. One could only play so many rounds of canasta before tedium set in.They had been so accustomed to at least some outside communication. And so with each passing moment, the silence became as an unwanted intruder. Lack of electricity was  slowly killing them. Or so, it seemed.
    Finally, it was the man who broke the silence. It was as though a flag went up to announce the gravity of the situation.
     " Well, we can't sit here all day with our thumbs up our assholes!"
This stark comment managed to coax a nervous giggle from the woman.
     " Well, what do you suggest?"
     " Oh, I suppose we could venture out a bit"
     " To see what lies over the next hill...?"
The question hung there like a mocker. It looked like at any moment, bush fever, (of a sort) would pounce and strike.
     " Do you have any better suggestions to offer, my sweet?"
     " Let's just wait til morning. In the meantime,I'm sure we can think of something...interesting, while we wait for tomorrow" she said with a mischeivious twinkle in her eye.
     " Come, come now, my dear, this is no time to be getting frisky" he said in his best mock-Victorian tone.
      "It seems to me you've instigated certain lewd and lascivious behavior now and again" She arched her eyebrow.
      The man blushed, not unlike a tender, virgin boy.

It now seemed that any attempt at humor fell just short of a punch-line. The stillness echoed an ever-increasing sense of quiet desperation. He wondered if this was the calm before the storm.The gaiety of a better yesterday became a distant recollection. Moment by moment, a mask of sadness too deep for the spoken word appeared on their faces. There appeared to be nothing quite as eloquent as silent weeping hidden beneath a casual jest.

     " Why so morbid? It's not like the court jester to suddenly grow despondent"
     The man quietly acquiesced with this cynical beauty that such was the case. At least, for the moment. Inwardly, he struggled to see his way through the darkly gathering clouds in his coffee cup. He noticed, as well, that the wall-paper seemed grayer than usual. He supposed, in his mind's eye, that it was on the verge of peeling.

Fourth Scribbling

     Outside, the rain proceeded to patter lightly. Nature, as always, was Queen of the Day.Thunder rolled in the heavens, and he thought of people he had known once but were now gone. He tried to blow warmth into his hands, rubbing them together. At least, he hoped that he might get his blood flowing with that old comfort which seemed so hard to come by these days.
    It was starting to get dark now, so he lit an old coal oil lamp. As he lit the wick, he happened to catch a glimpse of someone he used to know. He felt old, like the graying guy in the mirror.The lamp was circa 1942. It was probably displayed on the store shelf about the time he was carted out of the delivery room. It was antique, going back a few generations. It was one of their wedding gifts. The truth was...he didn't think that they would ever use it. 'How so gloriously rustic' he thought as the warmly- ambient light filled the room. The smell of kerosene filled his nostrils evoking memories of yesteryear.
    Sensing that he needed her to draw nearer to him,she huddled closer to his side. And once again, hope started to rise in their straited kingdom.Tiny rivulets of rain ran down the glass like rivers of angel tears.Once more, they poured the last of the steaming coffee into their cups. Then they sat, and savored the dark liquid, as though this was the last drink they would ever know.

     The clouds slowly dissipated.At last, the world seemed to be taking a slow,measured turn toward tranquility.Outside, nature began breathing easy.Except for a fractured sense of time, the couple returned to a slight sense of serenity.A calm interlude began to course through their living space once again. But, who knew how long it would last? They peered outside and hoped for something of a deliverance.A gently skiffed wind softly pelted the living room window with leaves of golden hue and vivid orange. All was well again. Or was it just illusory or preamble for something subtly insidious? The quiet slowly unraveled like the curl of a snake before the inevitable strike.

      " I believe the wind's died down a fair bit"he said, as he lit a stogey.
      " Eew! I thought you had given up smoking that stinking shit"
      " Why...I thought it made me look quite debonair. Like Bogey"
      Suddenly there was a sharp clap of thunder.The couple recoiled with the echoing peal.The woman dropped her cup. Quickly, she pulled her throw around her shoulders as if to protect herself somehow. It seemed a futile gesture and yet it was just her immediate impulse.
      Outside a dog yelped and darted for cover.Obviously, the sonofabitch knew the primordial meaning of terror. Poor cringing bastard! The window panes shivered.And the man looked out the window perplexed because it was a cloudless autumn sky."What a queer coincidence of nature," he mused, through slightly trembling lips.God, how he loved the thrill of the sudden upset! He, of course, would be the first to admit that it was a sick preoccupation.

    "Yeah...what is it?"
    "It's getting so...damned...dark"
    "Huh...what the hell you talking about,girl?"
    "Come...come over to the mirror"
    He gasps in total awe.

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