The Fleeting Suite

by Douglas Cole

The Ground Beneath Your Feet

I felt a jolt. The house began moving. For a moment I was weightless, then I flew to the back of the room and stopped and everything was coming at me—chairs, cups, couch pillows, plants and dirt and the whole sky. I went fast forward and hit the other wall, and then the house stopped. Can I tell you that in that time my mind leaped through every room double-checking no one else was there? Yep, just me. I had a nice bump rising on the front right top of my head. I could feel it tingling. It was warm under my hand. I’d taken a few shots to the arms and legs. The left wrist was a little twisted, but I don’t think broken. Stomach felt okay. I could see straight.

Windows on the north side of the house were still in place. What a miracle! And I could see the house did a complete face-plant into the maple trees. They broke the fall. Otherwise, the hillside was one big muddy slump that lava-like had flowed out from under and around the house and into the trees. Up above, half the road was gone.

Sometimes chance throws you a bone—the fire poker was right there at my feet. That’s how I’d get through those north windows, but looking up across the room, I mean, it looked like I could make it to the front door. First climb over the room debris: clock, couches, tables, guitars, pots—a ruin, just a ruin—and from there grab the wall edge at the little bar inset where I throw my keys. Next, hold onto the doorjamb to the entry way, and here it gets a little tricky. I’ve got the stairs on the left, doorway to the living room on the right, and ahead and just out of reach is the front door. I went for the stairway railing and got it, and that was my ticket out. From there I could reach the door, turn the knob, and the doorway fell open. There was my escape hatch.

I climbed up and out. It was otherwise a beautiful day. My neighbor, Albert, was standing at the edge of the driveway looking down at me as I climbed like a space traveler out of the crashed capsule of my house. I stood next to the front door, in a hole that used to be the land all this stood on.

“Hey!” Albert, said. “Are you all right, there?”

I looked back down through the front door into the interior mess. You know, it didn’t look like the house had been damaged that badly. There’s no more foundation, but if you could just lift it up and set it upright somewhere…

“Yeah,” I said, “I think so.” I felt that bump on the top of my head. I could already hear sirens. “I did hit my head, though.” Sirens, but now that I think about it, that might have been seagulls or my ears ringing, you know? Or the untethered spirits flopping around inside the house wondering where to go.

“How does that feel?” she asked.

“I won’t lie,” I said. It’s a little bright.”

“Hmmm. You might be sensitive to light for a while. Otherwise, you seem fine. Its amazing! But I think you should stick around for a night and let us keep an eye on you, okay? Just to be safe.”

“Safe. Yeah,” I said, because, well—

“And you climbed out of your own house?” she said.

“I did.”

“That’s incredible.

“Like The Poseidon Adventure.”

“The what?”

“The movie.”

“Oh, I haven’t seen it.”

“Never mind.”

“All right, well, you just get some rest, then. If you need anything, you’ve got the call button, there, but I’m going to check in on you—just to be safe.”

“Oh, I appreciate that.”

“You’re good for now?”

“Good. Safe.”

“Safe.” And she gave me the old buckaroo fist jab and a wink. Who knew there were people like that in the world.

And I tell you that room had a view, looking out over the bay, west, and the edge of the wharf glittering like a holiday. I don’t know what floor I was on, but I tell you this was like one of those high-end hotel views. I don’t know how safe I felt. I mean, I’ve never had a thing about heights. I like being up high. I like seeing into the distance.

Dame Rocket

At first it sounded like someone practicing violin. The it was just someone playing violin, a sound that rose and fell as if someone were messing around with the volume or a wind he sure couldn’t feel were taking chunks of sound away.

Not light, though! You have these moments of intense clarity, riding fast on a postage stamp magic carpet from one end of the room to the deck—and I mean profound true principles, enough to get you burned as a heretic in one of these versions. But now it couldn’t pay the rent past next Thursday.

That’s what I was trying to tell you, he said, right as the blender came to a stop. Was it coconut or jasmine that most defibrillated him back into paradise? I’ve got to get out on the lake!

Maybe no one’s going anywhere, except for Andrea who came through the wisteria vine rubbing her jaw as if she had just finished giving a rough one. Permission to come aboard, she said.

It’s your dream, too.

I’m only renting.

So am I! I could never afford this.

Low nitrogen supplements made the Daphne and the Dames Rocket sing visually and point at the places where they wanted their pots moved. Sun high overall. The idea fountain quietly flowing in its place on the wall under the eave of the bungalow.

The lord and ladyship around?


Ah! And Andrea lit up so fast it was like a magic trick. She was a miracle stepping out of her own creation smoke.

Join me? She said.

Why not.

And there are pales, again a principle, a physical law as solid as gravity, much like the one that pulled up its skirt when he drank this concoction he had taken to calling elixir. Then there’s Andrea’s mystery oil-soaked booster rockets. It was getting hard to keep track of the distortions.

Are you all watered or not? He said to the plants when his eyes fell down the well of Andrea’s million-mile stare. He thought to shake her, out of a sense of bio-fealty, but before he could shoot that message off to control center, she blinked, turned to him and said:

Don’t look at me!

He knew instantly that she was referring to the cavalcade of possible miss-steps and unintentional detours that might have occurred in the years she had been absent just standing there. He was familiar with that abyss. It rolled between him and many other narrative versions in which he for all he knew might not have survived the first bad wave.

Oh, there were a few missing pieces, naturally, a few gaps, intervals between then and now. They were walking in a golden wonderland overgrown vine street willow-choked and sweet sunken into summer daydream versions of several walks they’d had before, only now most of the homes were abandoned—take your pick!

And during the moon pause, she was saying, what you choose to do doesn’t have the same consequences. It’s a natural space for experimentation.

Everything has consequence.

Not during a moon pause.

Moon pause?

It’s like a gap. It’s like you get to be free from being you.

How do you now when there’s a moon pause?

It’s on the calendar.

Which calendar?

Any calendar that includes the phases of the moon.

It was Morse code now, midway into this conversation. Andrea always fragmented before him at some point.

…and he won’t answer his phone, she said. I think he got the guy. I just hope he doesn’t kill him.

He wouldn’t kill him, would he? He was proud he as keeping up even if he was on shaky grounds of clarity.

I don’t know. A monster like that? I can’t say I’d feel sorry for him after what he did to me.

No, no. Never.

Two days, can you believe that? Deserves a killing.


And Tom was pretty mad.

I bet he was.

He’s got him right now, I’m sure of it, she said, shaking her head and yanking down on a drifting tree limb like she was summoning a butler. Yeah, he’s probably putting cigarettes out in his eyes right now. That’s what I would do…


originally published by Bending Genres

They are waiting—they are watching from the lake of the dead.

I dropped off grid, dumped the vehicle, crossed over to Indian land, asked permission to stay

out here (on the edge). They said okay, as long as I didn’t bother anyone and paid rent.

I said that sounds good to me.

The high wire walkers show up when the air is very still and there might be only a few more moments of visibility as the light goes slowly. You can see them between the incoming clouds.

Someone peels out on a road nearby, sending out that gravel-skid sound. And always riding just below the radio broadcast of thoughts, trees maybe swaying and rubbing their limbs together and that warble-tone of bats, you hear the waves of the ocean like breathing, something enormous out there with all the stars inside of it, breathing and dreaming all this.

Can you buy me this medicine, please. I no have doctor. You go to pharmacy? Please buy, please. And you watch the doors of velvet delivery close behind you on a world warping with a Doppler bend to the voice saying, please buy, please, turning to the pool of black rainwater.

Another book arrived. How it got here through the barricades, the piles burning on abandoned streets, double maybe triple run of the engine truck and aid car…it’s chaos here, I tell you, so you can imagine my tears holding it, with shots going off in the dark, and my unbound joy.

Back in the crow’s nest learning the lessons of water levels and balance and equilibrium and bonds and shells and resistances and attractions and corrosives and emoluments, it seems, because all this is in that book in there and I’m out here, that the moon is a shade under full. Inlanders look out over the plains with squint-eyed curiosity and a little fear at what might arrive, the vast mystery of that empty space you can travel through for days only to come to another outlook over valleys and mountains like some threatening, stylized act of stone designing itself as obstacle course—it could take a lifetime to crack—to come at last to that immense void of the sea as if the journey only ever brings you to the threshold of another mystery.

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3 Responses to “The Fleeting Suite”

  1. The Fleeting Suite: Dame Rocket | Says:

    […] « The Fleeting Suite […]

  2. The Fleeting Suite: Inlanders | Says:

    […] originally published by Bending Genresread the suite from the beginning […]

  3. Alan Weeman Says:

    Good post guys!

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