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Jon Pinon

Short Story

And So the World Lay Still




If there exists a true God, I suppose it would only be best to suspect that whatever
kind of stuff he puts you through has as least some sort of a purpose. Some people think
its right in front of their faces, make up a quick theory and adopt it as a rule and the next
thing you know, theyre banging their heads against the wall from all the shame of finally
realizing how wrong they are. Others just dont even try, and those are the people who
spend their lives all depressed, wonderin how the worlds passed em by. Of course,
weve got those with enough brain power to think hard enough to find the reason behind
certain things. Then theres me, Shane Morello. I cant help but think to myself how Im
like one of those old cars that always need fixing down at Mannys Auto Shop on 125th
Street. I run fine, then something gets all screwed up, and its only when something
comes along and rips out my insides (figuratively, of course) that I finally get myself on
track again. Lifes not fair, and itll proudly admit that to your face, but itll be alright
just do whatever you gotta do, even if youd rather do something else.
The scenes burned into my brain permanently. It was just another night in the
hood. The street lamps providing the only illumination on the block, the pervading smell
of old man Paco drenched in cheap whiskey combined with a few stoneheads lighting
some joints on the rooftops. The sound of car horns and yellin right outside was your
typical alternative for crickets and squirrels in the trees. I could hear my Papi screaming
himself into a heart attack, Come to dinner right now! Damn it, Shane! He said this
over my new copy of No More Heroes 4 on my Xbox 720, which I believe is quite
amazing since he busted his ass trying to buy it for me after he lost his job and there he
was trying to pry me away from it. You see, my juvenile instincts werent gone yet, so I

shouted back Will you let me kill this boss first?! Im so close to a fatality! Just then,
he came up to my room, unplugged the console, and dragged me down to the dinner
table, not before laying a good smack across my face. Felt like I got burned by a damn
iron! That freakin man and his discipline! Half the kids in my school were either goin
round doing weed or gettin it on with all sorts of girls, their parents sayin jack squat,
and here this guy was getting all aggravated for playin a video game!
Do you know why God put us is this low-down, dirty, rotten hellhole of a
neighborhood? Do you, Shane? my father asked, quite angrily might I add. Damn, that
guy had nice timing! He put us me so I could raise you to be a boy who stands out of
this hostile crowd. Innocent people are having their freakin brains blown out on a daily
basis by their own kind. Money, wallets and purses are swiped from people in a damn
blink. Governors and mayors sit there like the mental retards they are without seeing all
this, and you kids just lie around with your iPhones and video games as if none of it
applies to you.
I started saying Well, Papi, we gotta take our mind off th
You shut the hell up until I finish talking, son! Your duty as a child is to respect
those of older age! he said. This is just what Im talking about! All this new
technology is brainwashing you children, hiding you all from the truth! At least click the
pause button on the freaking controller to eat dinner!
Damn. That hurt. Id have told him that, put I didnt wanna add to the fire. I
know how adults work.
I cant help but wonder if you have any clue what things were like before video
games, computers, iPods or whatever the hell you kids today love, Papi continued.
Humor me, try to imagine that. Thats what people in cities like Chicago and New
Orleans had a few decades ago. Now try to imagine THIS PLACE without fancy
technology. Youre a lucky son of a bitch just to even touch an X-Box right now!

Certainly no better in the past! But back then, in other places in the world, there was
more respect, dignity, and honor. Thats what I want you to be like today.
Well, sir, I said all proper-like, to help cushion things, I hate to argue, but
theres nothing you can do about technology. Its everywhere, and you just cant stop it.
I realize that, son. Obviously you werent listening to a word I said, so let me put
this in a nutshell, its the ATTITUDE that must be changed. Now eat your dinner before it
freezes over, and think about everything while youre at it.
I stuck my fork in the arroz con pollo like an arrow through a heart and ate it all in
a blink, savoring every last bit o that stuff. I love arroz con pollo like an S.O.B. After
that, I went to my room, stripped down, and jumped straight into the shower, my chamber
of thought, you know. The rushing yet comfortably temperatured (if thats even a real
term) water ran all across my body, little thoughts of who the hell I was flowing along
with it. The waters warmth kinda served as a blanket for my head, whirrin out thoughts
like a generator creating power. I thought to myself, what if Papis right? What if all this
new high-tech crap is really screwin with society? Am I just doomed to turn into one of
those kids out there, sniffin coke til theirs brains pop and messin around with women
like theyre tryin to repopulate the earth or is there a way to stand out of the crowd and
be good? Everything shuffled around through the darkness of my head, just as I realized
the darkness in the room. What the hell!? Have you any idea how freakin scary it is,
trapped in your shower when its dark all of the sudden?! Its like being stuck in a Silent
Hill game, complete with heart-attack inducing stress. Just then I heard a godsend, Papis
Dammit! The whole neighborhoods blacked out! What, did PSE&G have a
stroke or something?! Theres not even any freakin rain! he wailed. Pretty sure the
whole damn apartment heard him screaming. There was something bad going on.

I decided Never mind drying myself! and went commando to my room as best I
could without tripping in the dark and managed to get my clothes on. Papi yelling at me
about technology being bad, and then having the power go out felt like a message from
high above. The good Lord, who wasnt really bein to good to us, was tryin to tell me
Papi was right, in his own, messed up, learning-things-the-hard-way manner of teaching.
The way which I was used to learning my lessons. We all thought this was just a glitch in
the mainframe and power would come back to us overnight, but as time went by, we all
started getting used to living life without electricity. I missed my X-box a lot at first, but I
soon realized Big deal, I can live without it. Living without T.V. and radio became the
way life. Total it all up, and wed find out that we had been without power for over four
years. Crazy stuff, aint it! We found out when it was over that it was all because of the
some terrorists in Afghanistan that shot a missile up into the atmosphere and created a
huge-ass interference with the countrys electrical grid. You guys called it an EMP attack
or something.
Nobody could adapt to living without power, at least no human in our time.
Fridges couldnt keep food fresh, so people died from either starvation or poisoning from
eating rotten food in desperation to stay alive. Boredom started infecting people like the
Black Plague, and more people killed themselves. Schools and businesses were closed.
Not like you could jump in your car (or jack one, for that matter) and drive off to a new
place, cause the whole damn nation was in this shape. Everywhere was either an uproar
or simply death. After about 6 months we were among the fifteen percent of the city that
were still pluggin along, surviving with the stuff we had. All my best friends had either
jumped off bridges or turned to drugs for emotional shelter.
By the end of the first year, all hope was officially down the crapper and we didnt
have much stuff left. All that suicide was really starting to inspire me, making me even
more desperate to end it now. Papi had himself a heart attack, and was laying in bed
dying. He was only 42 no less. It was just too much for me. Depression desperation
insecurity dont wanna do this no more. One day, I went to Papis room to wake him up
and didnt see or hear any response. He felt cold when I leaned over and touched him. He

was gone. Forever. Just then, I decided to go outside and just walk. Walk around, with no
certain place to go. Just walk.

Well, you sure are one lucky kid. Makin it through all this hell, getting this far,
came the words from a slurred, yet strangely content voice which stopped me square in
my tracks. Old Man Paco. The same guy who drowned himself in liquor every chance he
could. God help me. Too bad, though. You may not be able to hold up much longer he
blurred out.
Thanks for the encouragement, I told him, with obvious, angry sarcasm. I was
always taught to respect my elders, but this just wouldnt do. I was already starting to
think like all the others who decided to end their lives, and here was this old man
reminding me how bad things were.
I understand youre being upset, kid. Why dont you head down to the courts and
shoot a few hoops? Makes for good entertainment. Thats what I always did! Freakin
genius! I loved this guy after he said that! Why in Gods name did I not think of that
before! Technology really had gotten to my head.
I picked up a basketball from an abandoned store and off to the courts I headed. I
ignored the smell and lost myself shooting the ball. After a while, I felt kinda at peace
with myself. It almost felt like the stream of thoughts from my last shower before the
blackout, nine thousand times over! As I went through the motions of bending my elbows
and then extending them for the shot, I imagined the bend being me loading up all the bad
things I once said about Paco, and the shot being me letting all that go. Still do today.
After a few hours, I suddenly heard Paco say Not like your X-Box or Playstation, but
just as a good, no?! Hahaha! I laughed right along with him. Just then, he asked me to
take a walk with him out of the city and try finding a place to fish for some food. A
magical adventure and stuff, he called it. I felt a sense of trust for this old fart of a man,

the same guy we used to see drink himself into coma every day of his miserable life.
At the end of it all, I guess we can all say once again that God does his things for
a good reason. I wish everyone, including myself, could have realized all that sooner. But
enough of that. All I care about is the fact that I found a way when all things seemed
hopeless, kinda like all those people that go and write songs about God helping them out
in times of need. Maybe they werent so dumb after all
and so, as the world sat around and lay still, I found a lifeline, in the most unexpected
place you could imagine.

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