It’s been hot for seven weeks. Too hot to even speak. Shirts come back from the cleaners with fresh pit stains, just to save you time. Gusts of hot particles — only a lunatic would call it a breeze — chafes and chaps your eyes, burning so deep into your brain that you think your next breath will be your last. No, rephrase that. You HOPE will be your last. It hurts to acknowledge reality, so you brace yourself and stiffly walk down the avenue, avoiding these black pools of death and the strange, horrible creatures gathering there as it they were hell’s oases.
And the people! Sweet mother of God. The drifters doing the cellphone shuffle — absent-minded pirouettes on crowded sidewalks, sudden stops and lurches — or the smokers exhaling a cloud of nicotine exhaust that engulfs you when you unwittingly walk in their wake or the shopkeepers standing on the curb who blindly hock toward the street, whether or not somebody is walking there. Their foul globs of phlegm settle into the primordial ooze of the garbage runoff, or rather onto, much too light to sink into the semihard mass. Trucks could drive over these puddles without making a splash. And they do. Consider: It hasn’t rained in days; whatever liquids helped create the pools did not come from the sky, or from any natural source whatsoever, most likely. This is a synthetic strain escaped from a CERN Hadron Collider, the antimatter of the antichrist.
In Brooklyn, however, they collect this stuff in old apothecary bottles and vintage wooden kegs, selling it as Uncle Walt’s Super Hipster Booster and Elixir to stroller moms in Park Slope, who freeze it into artisanal ice pops for little Corduroy and angelic Daisy-Miller (“Please don’t call her Daisy; her name is Daisy-Miller”). Like the sewer rats in Manhattan, the Brooklyn babies find the first tastes a tad acidic, but soon they come to love it when they learn that its mystical properties are firing their synapses like Roman candles, inspiring them to wire their porkpie hats for WiFi and to memorize all the stops of the Q line.
The noon sun is blistering through the ozone now and the toxin sirens are blaring. The streets outside my window are on fire, literally, and are deserted, except for the tourists lined up to see “Newsies.” This could very well be my last dispatch from this city of muck and mire; I see the ooze-creatures have evolved in a few hours’ time; they’ve grown legs and fangs are feeding on the abandoned iPhones that litter the flame-engulfed streets, absorbing not only their knowledge but also the. Soon all means of communication will be cut off.
So if you’ve tread in primal soup, please wipe it from your shoes!