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Six and A Half Moon
by Julie Michaelson
For Sale
Author requests article critique


he causes
both small
and great,
rich and
to receive
a mark
in their right
or in
[Revelation 13:16]
Time: During 4th year of the
Characters: Gordon, a One-World-Order agent
employed at the 24 hour Citizen Screening Office.
Victoria, an art student from the university.
It was cold in the building this time of night. Outside, a
heavy fog was beginning to descend upon the all the street
lights and tall buildings. A chilly dampness was reaching,
like a great arm, even into the brand new OWO government building where Gordon worked. For a moment he stood at the huge tinted window peering through the fog, which seemed to be penetrating everything like a floating blanket of ghost-like mist. For a moment the tendrils of mist looked like long, knobby demonic fingers....reaching out to touch any living thing in sight. A slight shiver ran down Gordon's slim back. Then, he laughed to himself; this new graveyard shift was beginning to play with his usually very logical senses. He had only recently volunteered to take the shift, since it paid time and a half, and he was planning on a trip to Australia next summer: it would be his 30th birthday, and he and two other friends planned to go snorkling along some of the western coastlines of down-under......and, enjoy some of the natural beauties of the countryside.

Gordon smiled to himself. Then he heard a sound behind him,
in the doorway. He turned around and looked up: both hands in the pockets of his gray flannel work slacks.
"Can I help you?"

A young girl was standing there, in the doorway. She couldn't
have been more than 19 or 20; her long wavy reddish-brown
curls reached almost to the old leather belt of her blue jeans.
The floppy hood of a bright yellow, flashy rain jacket partially covered her small, heart-shaped face, totally bare
of any makeup, and large hazel eyes. Peaking out of the zipped jacket was the collar of a forest-green turtle-neck sweater. A lovely little charm necklace swayed back and forth over the top of her heavy turtleneck; the chain was delicate-looking, and its gemstone exactly matched the color of her eyes. A soft blush of child-like freckles spread across her small, turned-up nose; making her look much younger than her age. Just beneath the gentle smattering of freckles was a rather humorous-looking paint splotch on her right cheek: it was bright yellow with green and brown speckles.

Gordon moved away from the
chilly window. He smiled,
again. The fingertips in his
left pants pocket felt moist.
"Can I HELP... you?"

"Is this the Screening OFFICE?
I think I've been LOST! They gave me a MAP,
when I came into the parking
garage, but......."
The girl pulled off her bright
yellow rain hood, and shook out
her hair. Little cold droplets
clung to her curls, and long eyelashes.
She shook her head slightly, and smiled: her
teeth were small, very white and even.
"I've never been very good with
these THINGS....!"
She gave a gentle laugh; two tiny
dimples appeared on either side of her
small mouth.

Gordon was speechless for a moment.
He noticed a little sparkle
on each of her tiny earlobes;
the jewelry was dainty and almost
childish-looking, though
it perfectly complimented the
soft pale skin of each lobe.
"What: wondering around like
this, on a creepy NIGHT?"

The girl laughed, again; it was the
soft tinkly laugh of a woodland nymph.

"Uh........yeah! So..............are
you sure you're in the right
Gordon pointed to one of the gray waiting room chairs, that were clumped together on the far side of the entry wall. Had
he fallen asleep by the window, and was DREAMING? Maybe
he just hadn't gotten used to this graveyard shift, yet. Gordon's eyes traveled down to the girl's shoes: they were old
battered gray sneakers, and were at the moment, sopping wet.
"I didn't know it was raining
that hard."

The girl sat down on the middle gray office waiting-room chair,
and began to pull off her sneakers. One small, heavy cotton sock, the color of mellon with tiny dragon flies embroidered on it, slipped off the girl's left foot. Her little pale toes were polished the same mellon color as her sock.
"It just started raining hard,
when I got out of the car. I've
been in the studio all day, and
thought this might be the best
time to come over here.......you
know: not when a lot people
would be in line........"
She smiled again: her freckled
nose tilting just a bit.

"Oh........a university student?"
Gordon went over to one of the laptops stationed in the waiting
area, and clicked it to the Welcome Page for newcomers.
The page was splashed with bright colors, and happy faces;
young and old. It was part of the government propaganda:

"Yeah; ART student........."

Gordon kept his eyes busy, while setting up the program with nimble fingers. His heart was pounding just a little,
and he was trying to breathe normally; even at this distance
from the girl, Gordon could smell the delicate fruit of an inexpensive cologne: was it watermellon.......or, oranges?
He tried not to sniff again.

"Uh, huh..........
how long is this going to take?
I have to get back.......my midterm is due, tomorrow!"

Gordon turned away from the
laptop; all this time setting up
was unneccessary. He just enjoyed
standing there, with his
back to her and smelling the
musky scent of watermellon....
or, oranges.
"A paper?"

The girl laughed again; her cologne seemed to grow heavier.
"I'm finishing a PROJECT:

Gordon just nodded; he knew nothing about art, and didn't want to ask any questions that would point to his ignorance on the subject. He turned around, facing the girl, and pointed back toward the computer.
"Have a seat. It's all self-
directed; you just have to fill
in all the paperwork, first."

The girl waved toward her belongings;
her hands were bare of any rings, or other
jewelry. Rough, dirty specks of paint lined the tips of her
small fingers: her nails had the same polish of mellon,
though the color was half-chipped off.
"Okay if I leave all my stuff,

Gordon shrugged. Casually, he looked over at the doorway:
a bright yellow little umbrella had been opened, and was leaning against the steel door frame. There were tiny frogs
on it, as if this woodland nymph had taken some of her friends
with her, on her errands. He watched as the girl padded,
in bare feet, over to the computer station. Her small pale, mellon-tinted toes looked vulnerable against the cold dark
gray tiles of the floor. They must feel ice-cold, he thought.
"Just let me know when you're
on the last page, okay."

"Uh, huh......."
The girl murmured: beginning to click away on the laptop.
The harsh flourescent light overhead was unable to dim
the natural lights of her reddish-brown curls. Her petite
figure, in the over-sized, forest-green sweater, and paint-spotted blue jeans, contrasted oddly against the
government-issued swivel-chair
that was a nondescript darkish color.

Gordon could see the pale little mellon-top-toes pressing against each other for warmth, on the cold floor, underneath.
He turned away, and began getting the machine ready.
He cleared his throat, awkwardly.
"Is this for the pay, or FREE?"

The girl turned around in her
swivel-chair; a long
reddish-brown curly strand of
hair was clinging to the front
of her dark green sweater. It
was stuck there, like a piece
of pink cotton candy.

Gordon cleared his throat, again.
"WELL, uh.........
YOU know........"

"Uh, uh."
The girl tilted her head just
a bit; she frowned for the first
time. Another strand of reddish-brown hair was now
sticking to her breast, like a piece of seaweed on the tip
of a coral shore.

Gordon kept his hand on the
screening-image machine. His
damp palms were leaving sweat
marks on the heavy plated glass.
Yeah.....uh, well.....you can get
the government-ISSUED one,
He cleared his throat again;
there was a white streak of
paint on the bottom of her
green sweater, that hung sloppily
over the spattered jeans.
After a pause, Gordon pointed to his right wrist.
"......to have it done HERE."

Well, how much IS it?"
The girl leaned over to grab her suede handbag, that had
slipped off the back of the chair and onto the floor. The
bag was more like a big floppy pouch: the suede scarred and
torn from overuse; it too was dotted with various colors of
old paint.

Gordon sat down on the small
swivel stool beside the scanning
machine. He tried to keep
his voice level and professional.
"Two-thousand dollars.....
plus, TAX."

The girl was in the middle of
opening her bag, and looking
for what seemed to be her wallet.
She stared at Gordon.
"Are you.......KIDDING?
Are you KIDDING?
I thought it would be, like,
twenty BUCKS, or something!"

"Uh, uh.
I know.
They ALWAYS say that.....
I mean.....other PEOPLE."

"Are you SURE?"
The girl's heart-shaped face
began to look as if it might
be covered in tears, at any moment.

Gordon ran moist fingers through his thick, dark hair.
"WELL......if you're a government EMPLOYEE.....
you get 50 percent OFF;
it's now part of our full-time
benefit package."

The girl's big green eyes
widened in horror.
"That's still a LOT.......!
Are you......KIDDING?
I'm just TRYING to keep
my TUITION.....paid!"

"What about your PARENTS;
could they help? If you called
them now.....they could charge
it on their credit card......."

The girl gently shook her head;
her light brown eyelashes looked moist.
"Uh, uh.
They........they went MISSING.....
a few YEARS ago.......like
the OTHERS..........."

Yeah.....a couple a' my AUNTS
on my FATHER'S side went
missing, ALSO."

Silence filled the room for
several long moments. It was
the girl who spoke up, first.
That's it!
I'll just get it done on my
FOREHEAD, like everybody
ELSE. Who CARES, anyway?"

Gordon didn't say anything.
He looked away, as the girl
turned to finish tap-tapping
gracefully, on the keyboard.

After a few minutes, she
called over her shoulder.
"I think I'm DONE.....!"

Gordon walked over and stood beside her: professionally
peering at the screen, and leaning over to tap here, and
there on a few keys. The scent of her shampoo came to his nostrils: some sort of Hawaiian flower; it mixed strangely with the smell of watercolor paint, and mellon-or-orange cologne. His eyes glanced at the name on the screen:
"Okay..........this'll just take
a MINUTE...."

"Where do I sit: over THERE?"

Gordon walked over to the
scanning machine and pointed
to the swivel stood on the other
side, facing his seat.
"Just lean forward, and press
your forehead against the plate:
like THAT. Okay. Now.....just

Victoria's voice sounded casual,
and a little bored as if she
were already thinking of her
watercolors, and the yet-to-be-
finished midterm project.

Gordon paused for a moment.
He took his hands away from the machine.
"Are you SURE you wanna'
DO this? You can WAIT,
until you get some MONEY.....!
The DEADLINE isn't yet for
another four MONTHS....!"

Victoria giggled. Her voice was light, and sweet; it complimented the fruity smell of her cologne.
"What difference is THAT
going to MAKE? Four months
from now, I'm going to be just
as POOR...as I am, NOW! NO!
Let's just get it done, and OVER with!
I've got to get back to my PAINTING!
Come ON! It's DUE at eleven
o'clock this MORNING!"

Gordon shrugged carelessly, as if he weren't giving her midterm problems....or the wavy, reddish-brown strands of hair that were sticking to the dark green wool covering her small high breasts....another thought.
"Okay. Now, PRESS your CHIN
against this LEVER........and....

"I thought this was like a TATTOO?"

"Yeah, it is. But, it's done
with laser......one digit at a time.
It's painless, but it'll be probably be sore for a couple

"Oh, okay."

Gordon's fingers froze on the
keyboard of the laser's computer.
Suddenly, he switched the machine to 'off'.
"I'll BUY your PAINTING."

Victoria's face peered out
from behind the chin lever.
Her hazel eyes were wide,
and disbelieving again.

Gordon shrugged,
and shook his head slightly.
"I'll buy your PAINTING,
He shrugged again, as if he
were talking about going to
get some gas in his car.
"I'll buy your PAINTING!
For two-thousand DOLLARS!
THAT way, you can get it done.........on your HAND!

Victoria laughed out loud.
You don't even know what
it IS! Maybe.....I'm a lousy
I can't afford to have anything
on my HAND tampered with......
suppose I get an INFECTION
or something.......uh, UH."

"Absolutely not.
I've been here a YEAR....
and I've NEVER heard of
ANYONE getting an infection.
It's all very SCIENTIFIC
and....STERILE, now.
Are you RIGHT-handed?"

.....LEFT-handed.......but, STILL.....no. Let's just do
it NOW, and get it over with."

Gordon reached in the back
of his pocket for his wallet.
No. I WANT to do this."

Victoria looked up and
laughed, again.
"Who ARE YOU?"

"My name's Gordon
[and I'm in love with you]."

nice to MEET you."
Victoria put out her small hand;
there was a blotch of white
paint on her thumb.
But.......I can't let you DO this.
I'm an HONEST person....

It IS being HONEST!
I will CHARGE it on my CARD....
and, that will be the fee for

You've never even seen
to be honest.....I doubt
it's really WORTH
that much. After the
CLASS is over.....and if you
want to take a LOOK at it.....
in the university......and
still like it.....you could
always give me .....FIFTY
dollars for it. But, REALLY....!"

But Gordon was already getting up, and walking over to the little front office; he was in there for a moment, and then came out putting his credit card back into his brown leather wallet; he was holding a receipt between his lips. He pulled it
out, and stuffed it into an envelope he was holding. The
paper gave him a bad taste in his mouth.
"Where's your purse?"

Victoria pointed under the
desk chair by the laptop. She
watched as Gordon went over
and grabbed the big slouchy brown bag
and stuff the long
envelope inside.
"I'm just going to rip it up,

"It's done. Forget about it.
There's already two people
in the waiting room; come over
to the other machine so I
can finish yours."

Victoria got up and followed
him; her feet were still bare
and made little sticking sounds
on the cold tiles.
"There's people out there
......THIS time of night?"

Gordon ran back to the waiting
area, and grabbed Victoria's
mellon-dyed sox and old damp
sneakers. He came back.
"Here: put these on. Your toes
are turning blue."
He set the shoes and sox on
the floor.
"Yeah, till the deadline this
place is open 24-7. What are
YOU doin' here?"

Victoria bent over to slip on
each sock. Her long hair touched
the tips of Gordon's shoes as she pulled on each sneaker.
When she look up, her small pale cheeks were spotted with
a rosy color.
"I'm an ART student! We're
up at ALL HOURS!"

Gordon smiled, and shrugged. He contrived to
make his tone of voice nonchalant, as if
he were thinking of her warm, silky cheeks.
Here: stick
your hand here."

"Is this gonna HURT?"

"They say it's more like
a burning feeling.....just for
a few seconds."

"You mean.....
you haven't had it DONE?"

Gordon put his safety goggles on.
He readied the laser, and
began to work.
"Next week.
I had to wait till I was
full time for 90 days........
okay: here goes.
Hold your breath."

Victoria sucked in her breath.
After two seconds, she yelled
She pulled her hand away.

Gordon looked up: pulling
off his goggles. He yelled back.
"What are you DOING?

The two people, an older couple who had been waiting in the other room, were both standing in the doorway: peering curiously inside. The older man
called out.
"Everything okay in THERE?"

Victoria was already standing
up; she was rubbing her wrist
over bottom edge of her bulky
green sweater. She turned around, and smiled.
Just changed my MIND,
is all!"

The man and woman looked
at each other, and shook their
heads. Then they went back
to their seats: murmuring to
one another. The man picked
up a magazine from an empty
chair, and spread it out in his
lap: still muttering to himself.

Back in the scanning room,
Gordon whispered harshly. Spit came out of his mouth.
"What the HELL are you
DOING? Sit back DOWN!
I'm not DONE, YET!"

Victoria turned her small
pale wrist around; she hadn't
expected anything but it was
surprisingly sore. Plainly visible
was the number '6', and a ( sign.
She gave a little shaky laugh.
I didn't think you
had done ANYTHING.....yet!"
She held her wrist up to the
ceiling lights, and peered at
herself again.
At least I got 600 BUCKS worth!"
She laughed, again: rubbing
the inside of her wrist on the
waistband of her paint-splattered jeans.

Gordon stood up so quickly that his swivel chair went spinning
behind him: smacking into another laptop desk. He ignored it: slamming his green plastic goggles down on the hard tile floor. His whisper was intimate, and angry.
"What the HELL are you
DOIN'? Sit back DOWN!
I could get FIRED for this!
And, right now......you're ILLEGAL!"

Victoria laughed with the innocence of a young college
student. She pushed her lovely hair back: leaning forward to give Gordon a small peck on the left cheek. Her small lips
were soft and had a scent of their own.
I'll be right BACK!
Don't WORRY! I just wanna
show you my PAINTING.....
first! I think it's only RIGHT!
Don't WORRY about it! I'll
be right BACK! The STUDIO
is right around the CORNER!
Just five MINUTES from here!
My CAR'S parked right
out FRONT!
Don't worry about it!
You're almost DONE with me...
why don't you work on those
other people, while I'm GONE?"

Gordon grabbed the sleeve
of Victoria's slippery yellow
rain jacket: half pulling it off.
The rubbery material made a
slight squeaking sound.
"Are you out of your MIND?
What are you DOING?
What are YOU.... DOING?"

Victoria just giggled: pulling
her sleeve back on clumsily.
"I'll be RIGHT BACK! I just
wanna show you my PAINTING!
I mean......your PAINTING!
This is EXCITING! I never
SOLD anything for that MUCH,
before! I'll be right BACK!"

Then she grabbed
her big slouchy suede bag
and turned....and ran out of
the room: happily. She called
out again, over her shoulder.

Time: Three months later.
Place: Across the street from the Government Scanning Office: inside the University
Art Studio.
Characters: A One World Order Investigative Officer.
Professor Anatonielli, Dean of
the University Art Department.
"So when did you last SEE him?"

Professor Anatonielli glanced momentarily at the well-dressed man, who was speaking to him, and then calmly looked away. He hated these One-World-Order Officers; in his mind they were nothing but a bunch of thugs: hunting innocent people down.
The professor sighed.
"I've already TOLD you people!
I had never SEEN him before,
that NIGHT! Probably just another of young Victoria's admirers........though she was
usually not interested in them:
too focused on her artwork. And, I don't BLAME her......."

"She is dead, Professor.
Killed two weeks ago in that
bad pile-up on the bridge......
it appears she was on her way
over to her rented studio loft...
in YOUR building........"

"It's not MY building, Officer!
This entire campus belongs to
the government: YOU know THAT.

"Then......where is the PAINTING?"

Professor Anatonielli shifted
his tired gray eyes away from
the OWO Officer's peering gaze. He naturally shocked and
grieved by the news of the
death of one of his younger students. Victoria was enthusiastic, though her art
subject was clearly questionable.

The OWO Officer's loud tone
of voice interupted Anatonielli's thoughts. "WHERE IS IT, SIR?
Now there is a WARRANT out
for this young man's ARREST!
He was a WO AGENT!
And, somehow that PAINTING......and this young
girl's DEATH is all tied-up,
and RELATED! We're going to
find OUT, Professor......sooner
or LATER!" The One World Order Investigator was dressed
in street clothes but carried
a WO badge and I.D.
"You're ATTITUDE has been
NOTICED, you know! Just to
give you some free advice......
the Deadline ENDS.....on the
last day of this MONTH!"

"I am well aware, my dear officer........well aware that every moment that ticks by is leading up to the guillotine. That: I am well aware......"

"Do you think this is a JOKE?
Some sort of TRICK? If I
discover that that young man
is hiding somewhere, within this
campus..........I will hold you personally RESPONSIBLE.....for Gordon
Whittlemeyer's DISAPPEARANCE!"

"Officer.......I never had MET
that Gordon fellow....until he
walked into my art studio, several WEEKS... ago: demanding
the release of Victoria's painting into HIS hands; blirted
out something or other, about his having PAID Victoria for it,
in a rather RASH momnent. Unfortunately, for the young man, the receipt he kept referring to was nowhere to be
found. Someone had stolen Victoria's suede brown bag right out of her little car, soon
after the accident.....before the
police came. Amazingly enough,
I actually BELIEVED him: being
the right age, and general attractiveness to convince the
innocent bystander that probably something was going on........"

"Did he SEE the painting?"
The OWO officer was getting
impatient; his boss wanted this
missing person's case, from within the WO Scanning Agency itself, to die a quick and quiet death.....and the sooner and quieter the death, the better.

Do you MIND if we step OUTSIDE?"
Anatonielli took out a pack
of cigarettes, and tapped
out one into his palm. He
looked up at the cop, and
then stepped out onto the
terrace. It was cooler, but
the bus fumes were still
evident from the traffic,
below. Anatonielli paused
for a moment to light up;
He drew a long breath, and
stuck one foot up against
the low cement wall leading
away from the exit door of
the classroom. The air smelled
of harsh cigarette smoke,
bus fumes, and musty, newly
painted art canvanses.
"WANT one?"

The agent was obviously
getting impatient.

Down below, horns were blaring; it was the middle of the rush hour, and the university streets would be jammed with students, and office workers on the way home. The evening class would
be starting in an hour; Anatonielli wanted to get rid
of his charming companion.
He took another breath.
"Maybe this stuff'll kill
me, before YOU do."
He laughed.

The agent ignored him.

Anatonielli took another
smoke, and shrugged.
He shrugged, again.
The sky was beginning to
darken; the faintest specks
of starlight was beginning to
show through the grey clouds.
"I let the kid LOOK at it........
the PAINT was still wet,
of COURSE....."
Anatonielli drew his last puff,
and then smashed the cigarette
butt against the cement wall,
and let it drop to the ground.
Already, he wanted to light
up another.
"He just SAT there on the
floor....for over an HOUR:
just LOOKING at it..."
Anatonielli shrugged his
shoulders, again.
"Then he LEFT.....
Like I said....

"Where is it, NOW?"

Anatonielli tilted his
head toward the streets
"It's down STAIRS...
in the BASEMENT. It
wasn't one of her BEST
works.....I would have given
her a C- for it; the SHADING
was ALL......"

"We'll have to TAKE it;
get is WRAPPED, and
bring it up to my VAN,
in ten MINUTES."

"It would belong to her

"She doesn't HAVE any;
they're GONE. It belongs
to the STATE, now."

Anatonielli turned around,
and pulled open the door to
the studio. The welcoming
scent of paints, and canvases,
and old wooden benches filled
his nostrils. He suddenly
decided to quit smoking;
that last cigarette had just made him nauseous.
It has NOTHING to DO with me."

The agent's low voice followed
Anatonielli into the studio.
Perhaps NOT....."

Anatonielli stopped, and
turned around. He looked
the federal agent straight
in the eye.
You're a lieutenant,
AREN'T you?
me......my students' midterm
project was TOTALLY left
up to them...it was NOT my

The agent pulled out a card
out of the inside of his jacket,
and tossed it on the table
beside him.
Get the painting.
You can have one of your
STUDENTS... to help you.
CALL me: if you think of
anything else."

Anatonielli picked up the
card, and sighed.
"Read the BACK of the
CANVAS, lieutenant:
she DEDICATED it to
her PARENTS..."

"Just GET it."

Anatonielli nodded to
one of his older students,
from the back of the room.
Then he turned to the agent
once more, and laughed.
"You know, Lieutenant?
I would have been HAPPIER..
if she had painted a picture
of a pink ELEPHANT....
than that one ...
I come
[Revelation 22:12]

Copyright 2012.

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