Louis McNamara + Irina Nedelcu

Pink Car Nation

Pink car nation

Corsage. Pimple. Prom.
First date. First time. That’s if I’m lucky. Right now I’m early and nervous. It’s the tux. I feel like a stuffed animal. And look like one, too. Your father seems to agree. His sneer makes my bow tie startle. I choke. It’s time. Shall we? Let’s go! You kids have fun responsibly! We kids will try our best! I put the key into ignition. Engine starts singing. I let the radio join in. Wheels are dancing around. God, you’re beautiful! I’m glad I asked you out. You’re glad I did, too. We share a kiss. It’s not our first, but I think it’s better. You don’t. You say we’d never have a better one. And then you smile. Your face smells like candy. Your cheeks are pink. I smile back. My blush all natural. My palms are sweating with anticipation. The wheel is fish-like, slippery. So tonight will be the night, I think. So tonight is the night, you say. The shifter panics, stumbles into a premature fifth. I stick it back into third. We’re cruising again. The trees act like they’re on to us. Their shadows bow to peer inside the car as we pass by. You said you’d have a surprise for me. Do you? It will be my first. You say you do. But it’s not exactly what I’d expect. It’s even better. Better makes me restless. I can’t help wonder. Could it? No, it can’t be. Is it? It might. Now you’re teasing. I burst with desire. My pimple knocks from the inside of my skin. It wants out. I wish I could prevent it. I wish the car would just stop so I can hold you. I wish tarmac would turn to bubble gum so we’d get stuck. We’re almost there. I can’t dance, I say. You say you won’t. You say we should stop so I can have my surprise. I ask now. You say yes. I ask what. You say blow. I ask job. You say no. What kind of blow then? You say snow. And go through your purse. You take out your pink eyeshadow. I pull over. You pull the cap off. And draw the line. I walk it. And drive off. We’re good together. We’re the best. Do you have more? Enough to last all night. I want to drive some more. You want to sing. I like the speed. You like The Cars. We’re flying. Eyeshadow levitating, leaving behind traces of glow. My mind is running. Your eyes are beaming. Gravity is out of order for a second. We fall. I scream. You scream. You laugh. I laugh.
A million tiny jokes. Eyeshadow flakes are swimming in the void between us. I look at you. You hold my hand. God, you’re beautiful! The sky is melting. And stars are pouring out of it.
We’re there. We’re safe.
Pink. Crash. Rest.

Music Man

Music Man

The day the circus came to town was the happiest time ever. As if a giant present box had been dropped in the central piazza and all the children gathered round it. Hundreds of wonder craving eyes were hunting for cracks in the red and blue silk tent. But the magic was well hidden. They had to settle for wild guesses instead.
“The elephant man,” said a fat girl while stuffing a giant apple in her mouth.
“Dancing blue seals. I heard they’ve brought them all the way from the East Pole,” offered an over-freckled skinny boy.
“Six legged acrobats. Two legs run, two jump and two dance,” suggested a tall boy full of confidence as if his family owned the circus.
“Flying motorcycles. Driven by a gang of panda bears,” ventured a curly funny looking kid.
“Singing lions,” shouted another.
“Guitar playing monkeys,” another scream resounded.
“The Music Man,” said a little girl stretching her neck to see over the multitude of taller kids in front of her.
For a second nobody said anything, but all the red or pale, chubby or skinny, white or dark, curious faces turned to see who had spoken. Then a general mocking laughter broke out.
“That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard,” said the six-legged acrobat theoretician.
“It’s so silly it could be used as a joke by one of the clowns,” added another boy.
Another wave of mean laughter hit the girl right in the face.
“You’ll see,” she said. “The Music Man is inside. Grandpa told me about him. I’m not lying. He’s neither man nor animal, neither white nor black, neither alive nor dead.”
“Neither happy nor sad,” asked a mean red haired girl.
“Laugh all you want,” replied the little girl. “But you’ll see. None of your singing seals or dancing lions are real. Not even the elephant man. You should laugh at that. Not at the Music Man.”
“And what’s so special about this Music Man,” asked a chubby kid.
“Well, Grandpa said he was a just a man like all the men we know, but he was sad all the time.”
“Just a sad man,” interrupted the kid. “There’s nothing special about that.”
“Not in our world, but in the music world he was the missing half of an instrument. You see, in our world he was sad because he was ill. He couldn’t make use of his hands. As if his finger bones were melting on the inside. And that was because his better half was suffering in the music world. She couldn’t make music anymore. Only noises, strange little noises that resembled to baby birds being strangled.”
The children were listening breath held.
“What did he do,” a voice broke the silence.
“Grandpa says he went to look for her. He travelled the world, but all he could find were healthy harmonicas. So he decided to join the circus and be the Sad Clown instead. He had given up on her. That’s when he saw her. Laying on the floor of the monkey cage, her keys broken.”
“Was she dead,” a little boy asked with tears in his eyes.
“Almost,” replied the little girl. “But he took her to the circus doctor. And he sewed them together. Happy baby notes were born out of them and still are to this day.”
The children were as silent as a still fly. They turned their heads towards the tent and music rose from inside it.
“The Music Man,” shouted someone.
“The Music Man,” all the voices joined in.
Their ears were tingling with curiosity. They turned towards the little girl. She was gone.