Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Revelation Countdown

Revelation Countdown
by Cris Mazza

Paperback
1993
Price: $16.00

Paperback
1993
Price: $16.00

Buy



While in many ways reaffirming the mythic dimension of being on the road already romanticized in American pop and fold culture, Revelation Countdown also subtly undermines that view.  These stories project onto the open road not the nirvana of personal freedom but rather a type of freedom more closely resembling loss of control.  Being in constant motion and passing through new environments destabilizes life, casts, it out of phase, heightens perception, skew reactions.  Every little problem is magnified to overwhelming dimension;  events segue from slow motion to fast forward;  background noises intrude, causing perpetual weehour insomnia.  Imagination flourishes, often as an enemy:  people suddenly discover that they never really understood their travelling companions.  The formerly stable line of their lives veers off course.  In such an atmosphere, the title Revelation Countdown, borrowed from a roadside sign in Tennessee, proves prophetic:  It may not arrive at 7:30, but revelation will inevitably find the travellar.


"Cris Maza fiction, would seem to be a work of a young person, but only because of its freshness.  It's clarity and simplicity, however, suggest an older writer's attention and experience...We see the beloved bare fact of fiction;  that is, the life of the story, happening without explanation or common masks of cynism or sentiment." —Grace Paley and Stud Terkel, Judges PEN/Nelson


Excerpt


GUYS WITH TRUCKS IN TEXAS AND CALIFORNIA:


The way people treat animals shows you what kind of place it is.  In California in the 19th Century or early 20th, ranchers devised a round-the-campfire entertainment by chaining a bear to a tree and making it fight with a long-horned bull.  That's California for you.  Even a farmer in someplace like North Dakota wouldn't treat a dirty pig like that.  Why'd they ever leave Conneticut to move here, and how'd her elegant brother manage to end up a dentist in Texas, both of them stuck in places where there're lots of guys who drive trucks, the kind of people who dump kittens on the side of the road.


On the hottest day of the year in San Diego, it was  also a hot day in Texas (but it wasn't breaking any records).  A guy chained an adult cougar in his pick-up truck, parked outside in direct sun.  No one knows where the guy went, maybe those saloons with mechanical horses are still popular.  Witnesses said the animal was leaping about desparately because the metal truckbed was like a hot griddle, then the cat jumped out of the truck and strangled itself on its chain.  The owner when notified, laughed and said, "Anyone need a rug?"


Meanwhile back in California, there's a new law in San Diego.  You can't let a dog ride loose in the back of a pick-up truck.  They can't quite justify making a law purely for an animal's sake, so they sau it's a hazard to general safety when a dog bounces out of a truck on the freeway, hitting other cars and causing related havoc.  So you have to tie the dog in the truck.  The publicity campaign showed a dog with a shoulder harness and straps that fastened him to both sides of the truck.  But the just says the dog must be tied, so you know how they're going to tie them (if they even bother to do anything).  People who have trucks are only going to have Dobermans and Doberman-mixes, Labs or Lab-mixes, German Shepherds or related mixes.  Nothing small, nothing dainty, nothing cute, nothing with a high-pitched voice.  If they aren't dog enough to ride loose in the back of the truck, what goddamn use are they?  That's how you talk while riding in a truck.  Have you ever seen a poodle in the back of a truck?  If you wanted to have an attacked-trained dog, wouldn't a poodle make alot more sense?  The surprise element.  The dog'll be surprised all right, when it's bounced out of the truck and doesn't even have a fighting chance to land on its feet because the truck's still doing 65 or 70 and that beautiful black collar with silver studs breaks the dog's neck or drags it along the pavement, like the desperados did to the sheriff, behind their horses, in lawless Texas.  But it's not a hazard for other motorists.  When Glenda rode loose in the back yesterday, it was different because she was under a pile of tarps.  Probably painter's tarps.  That's what they smelled like.  She was tied, but not to anything.  He hasn't said where they're going and she hasn't asked, but she can see signs that say east, and Texas is east of California.  In Texas, her brother also has a truck.  But that doesn't really count because he lives in a luxury apartment and grows herbs in a planter box and doesn't have a dog.  She's been having a lot of time to think about stuff like this.