I wake to the sort of acrid bright sunlight that hangovers are made from, entering my bedroom through the window that overlooks C Street. Outside, people are whooping and hollering and laughing. The road is flooded with humanity, all of them with pure happiness on their faces. My calendar shows that it is a regular day, no public celebration scheduled. I throw my coat on over my nightclothes and descend to the street and ask the first person I see, an older man with long white hair and a bushy beard, what is happening, and he clasps my hands, tears in his eyes, and says, “Trevor Joyner is dead!”
We stand there like that, silent, hands together, a few droplets of moisture leaking out of his eyes and onto his face.
The man peels away rather than answer, swallowed up by the rollicking, rejoicing crowd. I think to ask someone else, but every seemingly amenable person turns away. After a few minutes of watching aimless cheering, I give up.
Back inside, I switch on the TV, an old tube job I rescued from a dumpster a few months ago. The screen hums and comes to life.
“Reporting to you from Washington,” the pretty brunette on the screen says, a large, ornate, white building behind her. The capitol building. “Again, we have confirmations that Trevor Joyner, the infamous man responsible for six counts of parishev, is dead. A raid on his compound last night by United States Marines killed Joyner and six of his followers. More on the story as it develops.”
I dial the first person who comes to mind. My brother Peter picks up on the third ring. “Jake?”
“No, it’s Nicholas.” The TV runs images of people dancing in the streets outside the White House. “I’ve just seen on the news this man that was killed, and there are people celebrating in front of my building.”
“Yeah, isn’t it great?” I can barely hear him over the voices and moving bodies in the background. Little firecrackers go off outside my window, and people cheer through the grimy glass.
“Who is this man? I’ve never heard of him before. And what is ‘parishev?’ That’s what the news said he did, but I’ve never heard the word before.”
“Are you kidding?” A woman’s voice, whooping in delight, fills the phone, and I jerk it away, my ears ringing from the sudden, unexpected sound. Gingerly, I replace the phone against my ear. “—about that, Betty and her friends and I are all celebrating the news. You can’t be serious, right, Jake? Everyone knows Trevor Joyner.”
“I don’t.” I cover my other ear in hopes that it’ll make Peter easier to understand. “And I told you, it’s Nicholas calling. What is ‘parishev?’ I’ve never heard of it before.”
“Parishev is parishev, little brother.” His voice gets quieter. Whistling air rushes by the phone on his end. He is no longer hushed or solemn. “Sorry, tripped. But yeah, that’s what’s going on. You should get over here. We’re all celebrating. This has been ten years in the making, man.”
“What has been?” I ask.
The dead phone in my hand beeps at me, struggling to be heard over the cheerful voices outside. Part of me wants to just go back to bed, to sleep this off, to let the world do its own thing, but I dress and prepare myself to push through the crowds that await me outside.
Daniel Loring Keating grew up in post-Industrial New England, where he earned a BA in Creative Writing from Chester College of New England. He has an MFA in Creative Writing at the California College of the Arts, where he was the Managing Editor of Eleven Eleven Journal. His speculative work has appeared in Strange Fictions ‘Zine and The Hungry Chimera.