WITHOUT the usual ceremony of piercing sirens that always heralded its comings and goings, the long white van rolled quietly down our street. Then, in an almost stealth-like silent cruise, except for an occasional hum from its engines, it went past our house and abruptly stopped in front of a neighbor’s gate, flashing its unsettling red and blue lights that reflected on the houses’ windows, creating a surreal Christmas-like late evening.
In the past, whenever I caught sight of these white lightning on the road or highway, tinges of dread and a silencing thought of prayerful concern for its fetched occupant instantly crossed the mind. Later on, with the introduction of 911 services to the city, encountering these fast cars became almost daily, causing one vegan friend to make light of the whole thing by saying at one time, “There goes another high-blood carnivore turned victim”. That wasn’t funny at all then.
As sure as blackbirds and all omens go, this wasn’t at all funny now. Without fanfare, two figures in what appeared to be pale spacesuits alighted from the van, while a crack of radio messages came out from inside the vehicle. Seems like a scene from a sci-fi movie, I thought at first while still super-glued transfixed from where I peeped, through our half-open front door. Immediately, a mental trace of what transpired days and days before came rushing. Thoughts like, had we had face to face encounters? Were there ever incidences of occasional contacts like a handshake or a pat? Luckily, no, we never even saw, much more talked, and definitely, in the weeks past, we pretty much got busy with our own affairs.
However, the signs were there. The drawn drapes, the now-seldom travels from out of the house and the permanent sound of television penetrating through the heavy curtains, not to mention hushed tones and regular coughing sounds from within.
Surely, that UFO blocking the street, with its two fake spacemen poised by its bright headlights wasn’t a funny sight at all. Yet, as far as all dark tales go, allow it to transport us, if for a while, to a time only dramatized in those old films in black and white, where a scene from the black plague shows a hooded figure in a raven mask pushes a cart carrying bodies and crying out, bring out your dead, bring out your dead…
That’s only in the movies. But, have we asked ourselves, what are the odds?
After a long while, our neighbor left, carrying a few bags and entered the vehicle. Along with the spacemen, they rode away. After a long moment of quiet, I could hear a faint shushing of spraying somewhere near. Someone must be unloading their supply of disinfectant in the yard. I can imagine some youthful neighbors looking from the safety of their window, uh-oh, the shoot just got real. Of some small child peeking through his mom’s jammies, I’m going back to bed, it’s not the ice cream man.
HONORING MY MOTHER
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