...small and great,
...rich and poor,
...to be marked
on the right
Time: Fourth Year
of the Tribulation.
Place: A gated community; San Antonio,
and his live-in girlfriend,
Laurie stopped her car
by the gate entrance,
and punched '9...2...7...4',
and the 'number' sign.
She rolled up her car
window, and drove forward.
But the gate didn't open.
Laurie cursed again;
her day had been exceedingly long and
she just wasn't in the
mood for this.
Suddenly, Laurie heard a
car horn and turned around. Oh, good. It
was Stuart's car; he must have just turned into the entrance from
Stone Oak Parkway. He
and Laurie usually didn't
get home from work at
the same time, but today had been different.......THAT was
Laurie turned around,
impatiently: her motor still running.
Laurie mouthed the words into her rearview
mirror: holding both her
arms upward in meaningful gesture. Almost immediately she
could see Stuart pointing
impatiently to the gate
"WHAT IS IT?"
Laurie mouthed again
into her rearview mirror.
She was just not in the
MOOD for all this; why
did Stuart have to be
so argumentative, just at
the right moments? As
Laurie watched in her
mirror, Stuart got out
of his car and walked over to her driver's side.
"What's the MATTER?"
Laurie pressed the button to roll down her
window. Now her voice
was more audible.
"What's the matter:
did they change the
Stuart's face appeared
in her window; Stuart's,
tanned face, at age 36, was beginning to show the wrinkles of one who
spent too much time running in the hot sun.
Right now it was sweaty
and even more wrinkled
with frustration. A touch of dried blood was sticking to his forehead. The smell of pizza and anchovies emanating from Stuart's clothes was weird, considering the blood stain. He had obviously stopped on the way home to pick up a pizza for dinner.
"STUART! What HAPPENED to YOU?
Oh, my GOD! Were you
in an ACCIDENT?"
A big fly buzzed through
the open car window. Stuart tried to smack at it with his big
sunburnt hand, but only
succeeded to hit his palm
on Laurie's half-open
HELL! What's the MATTER with you?"
Stuart didn't wait for
an answer; he just shook
his head impatiently, and half jogged over to the gate entrance.
Laurie waved at the big
fly, and then rolled up her window. What was
Stuart's shoes scattered the pebbly gravel of the drive entrance, as he halted abruptly in front of the
closed gate. He looked as if he were pressing his face against the wrought-iron bars:
trying to peer inside at the pretty stucco houses
of the tree lined community. What was
Suddenly, the wide iron
gates began to slide noisily open: parting as
if by some strange signal
from outer space.
Stuart turned around
and walked back to Laurie's car. He bent down aagain,
and began waving
his hand in a downward
motion at Laurie's window.
Laurie began to laugh.
"HOW'd you do THAT?"
Laurie burst out laughing,
Stuart impatiently pointed to his sunburnt
"It's the MICROCHIP!
DAMNIT, Laurie! I thought you were going to GET it.....TODAY!"
Laurie stopped laughing.
Her mouth, though, stayed open and her blue
I FORGOT about THAT!"
Laurie turned to stare
back at the opened gates. Everything was
the same: the hot breezes gently waved
through the tree branches that lined the
edge of sidewalk entrance. A couple gardeners could be seen
mowing the grass of the
first big house at the corner. Dogs barked,
and sprinklers were being turned on; no children were playing,
of course. Laurie paused thoughtfully for
a moment; then she frowned and turned back
to Stuart's sweaty face.
The dried blood speck, on his brow, nauseated her.
"Did THEY already START.......THAT? Well.....how come the
KEY-IN's still there?"
She pointed to the now old-fashioned-looking
box sitting on the darkly
painted pole behind her
Stuart squinted his eyes shut with impatience. The wrinkles around his eyes deepened like crevices on a sunburnt cliff.
"They probably just haven't REMOVED it, yet! DAMNIT, Laurie!
I TEXT'D you this MORNING!
Don't you remember that NOTICE we got....
from the HOA*.....?"
She heard a loud grinding sound and then
looked up ahead; the
pretty wrought-iron gates were slowly beginning to move toward
Stuart shouted; he was
already jogging back to
his own car; the back of his light cotton business shirt was heavily stained with sweat.
Laurie stared at Stuart
in her rearview mirror,
for a second, and then
pushed her gear into
drive. Already three cars were lined up behind
Stuart's, and horns were
beeping loudly and impatiently.
"What about THEM?"
Laurie talked to herself
as she drove forward;
her own smooth brow
was dripping with sweat.
Laurie's car had heated up,
despite the air conditioning,
since her window had been open
just a few minutes.
It was a hundred and four outside,
pretty typical for an August day
in San Antonio......but,
Laurie's sweat was cold and clammy.
have they ALL gotten
the microchip, TOO?"
Laurie smiled and nodded: waving a polite
wave to one of the HOA
gardners. She put her
hand back on the wheel: it was slippery with cold sweat.
"And what about THEM?"
Laurie turned onto their
street. A couple of her
neighbors were talking
to each other, and stopped to smile and wave. She returned the
Laurie reached up to
press the button on her
garage-door opener; the
remote was stuck up on the windsheild on her passenger's side.
Laurie pressed the button, again. Just a week ago she had changed the tiny battery that was lodged
inside the remote. Impatiently she pressed
The lovely soft scent of laurie's expensive
cologne, that she had bought on their
last trip to Maui, began to have a
sweaty-stench to it. She slammed
her open palm down on the remote again:
painfully hitting the tops of her beautifully
manicured fingers against the edge of
the leather windshield.
Making a small fist,
she hit the button again.