Even here in South Florida, where hunkering down
is an annual occurrence during hurricane season, the main
streets were bustling, not the ghost town drags reported
on the news and the internet in other cities, other countries.
Notoriously bad drivers didn’t suddenly drive any better.
Respect and courtesy remained as out of reach as a COVID-19
vaccine. The man on the forklift obstructing traffic while
talking on his phone was just one example of thousands. What
made you think people who never covered coughs and sneezes
before would suddenly start doing so now? Consider inventing
new methods of killing time without killing yourself. Count
hearses. Calculate the square root of self-quarantine. Divide
by curfew. Stop touching your face; let the tears roll down
your cheeks, pool in your lap until you can see your own
worried reflection. Boredom and loneliness were side effects,
as the Supreme Court delayed hearing oral arguments, religious
services streamed online, and 401(k)s shrunk to the size of Donald
Trump’s hands or vocabulary. Several weeks into the pandemic,
the population of West Virginia was virtually untouched. Maybe
smoking and snorting crystal meth was good for something after all.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the expanded edition of his short story collection How to Whistle (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021). Recent lit-mag publications include RFD, Gargoyle, Limp Wrist, Mollyhouse, Impossible Archetype and Dissonance Magazine, as well as the anthologies This Is What America Looks Like (Washington Writer Publishing House, 2021) and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology From Middle America (Belt Publishing, 2021).
Photo by Laura Rowe (Colossal)