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palace in the sky

rob pooley

Sometimes I get bored, we all do. Occasionally, when I'm suffering from a lapse of entertainment in the late evenings, I'll put a pot of Colombian coffee on and sit next to the window, smoking cigarettes in the living room of my apartment, while looking out at the stars. I've often wondered if the gods get bored with their intergalactic political conflicts and just sit in their palaces looking down at Earth or any number of other populated planets for entertainment, perhaps drinking wine and smoking opium until they pass out.

On one particular evening, I was divesting myself of the pangs of boredom with this ritual of coffee and cigarettes, when I was inspired to engage myself in a walk about my neighborhood. After relieving myself extensively of the dark bubbly liquid in my bathroom, I set out. It was very late and there was a chill in the air. Nevertheless I merely wore a T-shirt with a Black Death cigarettes logo, jeans and sneakers.

I strolled across familiar sidewalks for about an hour, away from the apartment complexes and into a more affluent area, pausing every so often to stare into a home. It would appear to me as being cutaway like a movie set or doll house. Inside I could see a variety of tasteless furniture, children sleeping, a couple making love.

These scenes generally filled me with a sense of loneliness, of longing, longing to be loved, to be in love. At one home I began to fantasize about falling in love with and courting a beautiful woman, grasping her up in my arms and walking through the doorway into the hallway of a quaint little cottage. She would have a Persian cat named Precious, who would develop a cute and charming relationship with my Boxer named Duke.

After several years of wearing each other out with intense lovemaking, we would come to a unilateral decision to have children. The decision would be unilateral in that as a married couple, our two kindred spirits had become one upon the utterance of our matrimonial vows. Because of my keen sense of direction at work, it would be possible for my wife to quit working in order to raise children. Again, this decision would be made of a mutual heart and mind. Our children would go to private schools. They would be intelligent and have a balanced, healthy interest in the arts, athletics and academia.

Of course, it would be tough going, saving for college and putting money aside for retirement, but with a few cursory sacrifices and with my wife deciding to return to the work force when the children left for college, we would just be able to make it.

My fantasy had a sense of realism about it. For example, I would go through a period in my thirties where, due to a mid-life crisis, I would have a short-lived affair with a woman I met on a business trip. As my wife aged toward fifty, she would begin to lose interest in sex, which I wouldn't understand at first. But with the aid of several self-help relationship books, I would realize she was going through a natural stage of her life called Menopause.

Then the fantasy ended when I heard a dog bark and realized that lights were springing to life in the house I had lost myself gazing at. I turned, thrust my hands in my pockets and ambled away.

Eventually, I came upon a two-story house of conventional suburban make. White, with a faded blue trim, there was a pepper tree centered in a small front yard that was outlined by a short hedge. There was a white Volvo and an old blue BMW that was faded like the trim on the house, parked in a short driveway that ended with a two-car garage. I wondered why the cars weren't parked in the garage.

I tried to look into the house like I had done previously to envision the occupants, but no such vision appeared. Curious, cold and still rushing from the coffee I went over to a gate at the side of the garage, pulled a little wire that sprung a latch and walked along the side of the house into the backyard.

For some reason I wasn't overwhelmed by any kind of fear, but I was glad there was no dog in the yard to greet me with its ferocious snarl and gleaming white teeth. There was, however, a set of lawn chairs sprawled next to an outdoor table and I traipsed over and sat down on a chaise lounge. Feeling unusually comfortable, I reached into a pocket in my jeans and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, withdrawing one and lighting it. I looked up at the early morning sky and wondered about those crazy gods again. "I wish I had some wine and opium." I thought.

When I finished my cigarette, I put it out on the patio beneath the chaise and stood up looking around. I walked over to a sliding glass door. Testing the door, I found it open and stepped into what appeared to be a den. On one side of the room was a television and facing the television on the opposite wall was a small couch. I walked over to the television and retrieved a remote control resting on top then sat down on the couch still feeling strangely comfortable. Switching on the television, I began channel surfing like I was at home.

After switching through several channels I chanced upon a religious station. There was a man orating on the Original Sin and God casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. After the sermon he performed miraculous healings simply by blowing in the general direction of those suffering from a variety of diseases and afflictions. I had the curious desire for him to blow in my direction, though I wasn't sure of exactly what affliction he would be healing in me, perhaps just loneliness.

Gradually, I grew tired of the program and clicked the remote. The next channel that popped up featured a soft porn film starring the late Dana Plato. I became engrossed in the meaningless plot. A lesbian scene with Dana flickered to life in front of me and I unbuttoned my jeans, taking myself in my hand. As the scene progressed, I became so intensely excited that I came right then and there.

Upon ejaculation I had this sudden realization that I was trespassing on someone's property. The curious feeling of comfort left me. I hurriedly buttoned my jeans, turned off the television and slid through the sliding glass door, closing it gently behind me. Outside, it was cold and I could see the faint light of dawn at the edges of the horizon. I walked back down the side of the house and out onto the street.

While I made my way back to my apartment I looked up into the sky whose twinkling stars were beginning to fade in the early rays of morning and thought, "I wish I had some wine, opium and lived in a palace in the sky."