Rock ‘n’ Roll riffs match frame with a closeup of a woman’s cherry red lips. The lipstick, freshly applied. Her teeth are perfect pearly white. It is a summer’s day, as can be seen in the blurred background of the activities of a community pool in slow motion. The woman is chewing gum, slowed grinding up and down movement of her jaw. She spits out the gum, has piano enters the score non-diagetically. Carefully wrapping her discarded lunch in its original tin foil wrapper and disposes of it in the waste bin, she grabs a stemmed maraschino cherry off an unassuming kid’s banana split sundae, and pops it in her mouth. Heads turn as if the action has loud, reverberant repercussions. And they aren’t staring because they think what she did was wrong or unjust, but they want to see her expert tongue craft a knot with the cherry stem, and dream of what else that tongue could do if put to the test. The victim of the fruit robbery however, does feel robbed however, and shouts at the girl as she walks away from him without a second glance. Her sunglasses have thick, white frames and she is still walking, walking, walking in slow motion, having chewed and swallowed the sweet, syrupy treat and now working that stem into a knot. The poolside community on the edge of their seat. The splashing has stopped. Divers have stopped short on the diving board. Lifeguards abandon their posts, looking, searching, to see if she’s done it. Suddenly she stops walking and puts her fingers to her mouth to pull out the double-knotted cherry stem. She raises it above her head, spins around 180 degrees and smiles big. The crowd cheers! Popcorn spills onto the pool walkway, sodas are knocking over, kids in the pool are dunking each other in excitement. Goggles have been fogged up.
Empty pots, sacks of snacks laid empty. Not even a crumb for a visiting critter: Mice Need Not Apply. This is the world in famine. When agriculture production stops. Her pregnant belly rumbles, a panicked breath escapes her lips as the baby kicks. Also angered, also frustrated. This gift is now becoming burdensome. Virgin Mary 2.0. There is a sepia-hued black and white mist that covers everything; Ash raining down during volcanic explosions. She’s tried to stomach the worms and grubs, but cannot, regurgitating them every time. No wheat, no flour, no bacon, no warm meal. Soup has become a watery mystery best not explored. The people are getting restless. The dusty fields cannot give to it’s people anymore. Sky overcast and grey for months and months. No sunshine, sparse rain. Unanswered prayers flung up to heaven like desperate fishing lines cast into empty ocean waters. Our pregnant protagonist feels seasick.
Crumb cake at Luke’s and the smell of freshly made coffee. Every morning has the potential to be a perfect one. Sweet pastry, bakery items with the mix of that dark, deep, bitter liquid. Lorelai eats every crumb.
Boxed Entenmann’s crumb cake, holy with all its preservatives, promising freshness before the sell-by date. Gather around the dining room table. Company is coming. Put out that china dessert plates, teapot, sugar bowl, and the little pitcher of milk. Fresh napkins, music soft in the background. A new tablecloth, spread neatly underneath everything. There is also apple pie and cookies and ice cream. Company is coming and we are going to have a good time. We will leave only crumbs.
Taking the serrated bread knife on Sunday morning and cutting into a crusty loaf of the freshest French bread. The sawing sound and the movement of the knife unseats crumbs and sesame seeds. After cutting, I scoop them up and hold them in my palm before discarding them. This fresh bread – I will toast a piece or two and spread butter on it later. But while I wait, I will treat myself to the end piece of this noisy, crunch, soft loaf. So simple. So inflammatory. This moment could be heaven forever, smelling the toast, the char, the heady carb wafting through the home. Combined with the smell of coffee, eggs, and bacon, it smells like a diner. I feel footloose and fancy-free in the kitchen. Breakfast time can save your life. I can be enough to wake up early and not spend days bunkered down, afraid of the world and the potentialities of the trouble it may bring.
A mouse holds a large cake crumb over it’s head, forgotten about on the rug. It comes in the night, plotting the theft and its escape, back to it’s home, through the walls, to his other comrades. They will pool their findings and feast on the forgotten discarded crumbs.
Faith grows in troughs of flowers in churches, lilies sing church hymn lullabies softly crashing down on receptive ears. Echoes from mountains and distant forests, sermons throughout time on a loop a different speeds with the reverb cranked. All the dearly departed souls sweep up dirt paths in dusty winds and carry them to wherever they need to go. Patrick Swayze watching Star Trek: Enterprise and being eternally disappointed. Batting cage hitting baseballs for Jesus, more money in the tip jar, diners day out. Belief in a being, an energy bigger and more incomprehensible than your faintest glimmer of your understanding of incomprehension. Cross, Star of David, Moon and Star. Judeo-Christian tradition. Global genocide likely erased other religions we could have studied and learned from. Humanity as its own worst enemy. Wars over faith and one side’s interpretation of it. Swords to the belly and discarded shields, heated by fire and battle.
Down in a southern swamp, where the humidity is thicker and wetter than a three-piece suit drenched in molasses, there is a gator, hundreds of years old – Or so the legend says. This elusive reptile is rarely seen, but when she is, she is cruising through the muck, her eyes above the water, or in a flash, she’s snapping at some unsuspecting prey, ripping them to shreds and diving back down into her murky deep to sleep off her surprise snack. The aquatic plant life sweats and bears witness to this unapologetic display of nature where many lives have been lost. Drunken moonshiner daredevils on the bad end of a bet, as well as various swamp creatures who live their lives in survivalist fear. This vicious gator is rumored to be a mix of both light and dark, forest green; No one knows, because no one’s seen her fully outside her swamp, if they have, she’s caked in mud to cool her scales from the punishing southern sun. She relishes in the sticky, humid air; breathes it up like its candy, almost as if she knows not everyone can appreciate this refined taste in southern summer conditions.
Days on the swamp are quiet with hum and buzz of insects, the croak of an occasional frog or toad. The big splash can catch you unawares as it is impossible to predict when that gator will come snapping out of the water, or become uncamouflaged from the mud, her massive jaw opening and closing, rows upon rows of triangular teeth, geometric death traps, come smacking and snacking down. Her tongue is large and formidable on it’s own. Swallowing down birds and rodents and anything bigger and meatier she can find. Her reptilian skin is hard, but surprisingly smooth to the touch.