Move over Sherlock Holmes! There’s a new detective in town. We are mightily impressed with Jose Monroy, creator of a defective-detective that speaks to a new (de)generation of crime fighting enthusiasts. Clearton City Tales takes us for a walk on the wild side. We were privileged to work with him on his manuscript which is now being considered by an agent on the right-hand side of the pond. Jose is young, meaning his talent will be around for a long time and there are more adventures surely to follow his debut novel.
The Most Insecure Cloud in the Sky
by Jose Monroy
I’m about to get myself in trouble. I’m exhilarated by the possibilities of this new
drug, and then, I’m exhilarated by the drug itself.
“Are you comfortable?”
“Yeah. All good.”
Ceiling lights drip into my eyes as the tab dissolves on my tongue. Clouds conjure
themselves in place of these bulbs. It happens faster than I imagined. Esteban warned me, but I’m not necessarily new to this acid game.
Floating. The ceiling disappears. The floor parts like the Red Sea. Red, redwoods, I
gain altitude and can see a valley of redwood pines below me that extends to the horizon. I can see beyond infinity.
My metamorphosis begins, but before my flesh turns entirely to vapor I use my fingers to count each redwood…eleven…twelve…thir…It’s no use. My arms, my hand, my fingers have vanished. I’ve become something, some clump of vapor, a cloud.
So, what am I to do? I’m suspended in air, high above civilization. I listen. The soundtrack of my existence is air incessantly whooshing and swishing, intermittently cut by birds shooing past, their shrill chirping piercing my already turbulent thoughts. An occasional Cessna swoops by, buzzing like a bumblebee in heat, adding to the cacophony of swirling and perpetual noise. Mostly, though, it’s the air itself that’s noisy.
Whoosh. I become the air and feel my core freeze over. It’s winter. A cold so cold it burns. Pain. Constant pain. Who knew a life of stillness and weightlessness would be so constantly painful?
I make it snow. I try to identify the shapes of my fellow beings. This is more pointless than my foray into mindless time wasting. One looks like a rotten apple, bulging to the point of being unidentifiable as an apple. Another looks just like a pair of balls. Testicles. Just suspended in the air there. A healthy pair if you ask me. I give this being a name: ball-sack. Better still: Balzak. Those testicles produce so much snow the redwoods beneath seem to cower, crowding in a cluster against each other for protection. They are as one vast being. Counting them now is as impossible as it is mindless.
I look away. Whoosh.
A moment later, I look down again. In the distance, I glimpse another group of pines. I can count these. This has suddenly become a pissing contest. That ball-sack shaped being stares straight at me. I know that damn thing is thinking something like, “I can secrete so much more snow than you, you don’t even know, mothafucka!”
Oh yeah. Well, watch me. My insides feel steely blue, so frozen. Simultaneously a boiling sensation wells up inside me. It doesn’t even make sense. Boiling. Bubbling. Snow drips here and there from me but the more I push the less I make. A few insignificant batches are all I can muster. Balzak has beaten me. Smiling at me. I can see that harlequin-like grin so clearly, carved into its cottony appearance like a kid’s drawing of a clown. Two dots and the curved quarter moon line under it. That smile. It’s sinister coming from this being.
I see I’m whiter than he is. The ball-sack shaped being is gray. Gray-black. Darkness.
Absolute black, even. Menacing.
Finally, my redwoods are all covered in snow; it’s about time. I see that under Balzak so much ground has been covered. It’s pointless to even compete. Chirp, chirp. These birds must be having a hard time out here. What do birds do in chilly weather times? They keep contributing to the soundtrack of the existence on the most insecure cloud in the world.
Chirp, chirp. Whoosh.
Balzak is fusing with the rotten apple. A fitting pair of villains. Out of my league. I stand no chance against these nefarious co-conspirators. Am I a fitting hero for this tale of competing beings suspended in air? Floating near me, I can only describe this fusion as a blasting explosion-shaped cloud. It bursts outward towards anything and everything. Smaller clouds disappear as they are instantly formed and absorbed into the cloud’s liquid core. Formidable. God-like when compared to the ball-sack and rotten apple and me. I am a fitting spectator.
I can almost smell it.
An electric buzz. A large streak of sudden, blinding light zips through me in a milli-second. A few moments later, a resounding bang echoes in the atmosphere, shaking some of the snow off the pines below. Way off in the distance I spot lights. Civilization? It’s been a while since I’ve hovered over a populated area. A city? I wonder what my shape is? When human beings look up at me, what do they say? What do they think? I don’t know that I inspire much fear in anyone.
Fear overcomes me. It’s an obnoxious feeling which lingers in my mind. Fear takes me through mood swings, causing me to look different than anything else. My whiteness for example. I’m not brave enough to even be gray. I constantly live in fear of being called some weird color or shape no other cloud wants to be. Sometimes I have problems performing even the simplest tasks such as moving from one place to the other even though I sort of have that locked down: it’s a matter of listening to the wind and the chirping-chirping or buzzing and whooshing or just raining enough to feed the ground below or snowing enough to cover the earth and the pines below in a white bed of tiny, bunched up flakes. I can’t even abide by my own natural phenomena. I’m a failed freak of nature.
The God-like cloud moves ahead like a hawk, high on the wind, searching for the perfect prey, racing oh so silently towards the lights. Picky, isn’t it, skipping over my meaningless being? I know my place in the line-up. My rain flickers on and off, dripping in uneven cycles.
What role do minions play in a game of Masters? I am a broken cloud, playing in a world of naturally functioning ones.
Music so beautiful, it gives you the chills.
* * * *
Jose Monroy was born and raised in Guatemala, moved to the United States for college to get a degree in Film/TV/Digital Media, and currently lives in Los Angeles working as a worldwide sales manager for New Films International. Clearton City Tales was inspired by listening to Lustmore by Lapalux, and reading Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami. Monroy is 28 years old, and intends to develop a series of intrigues and crimes for protagonist Tavares Monte to solve in Clearton City, aided by Mischa, developing love relationship first introduced to readers in Clearton City Tales.