Black Glass

Black Glass by John Shirley Page A

Book: Black Glass by John Shirley Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Shirley
would promptly move en masse to the best parts of town. “Try arresting us all. ” A bluff? Maybe. But for now—stalemate.
    Rooftown knew it wouldn’t last; knew the community and the structure wouldn’t last. Everyone could see its fragility, and Spanx felt its cranky, swaying, creaking transience through the soles of his boots. He’d heard rumors the Matriarch was going to lock it down, not let anyone from outside in at all. But maybe that wasn’t happening yet. He didn’t want to ask the Matriarch’s permission to get in. She scared him.
    Spanx was on a mission to find Danny Candle. There was a gig to be played. There was potential money. Feeling “on a mission” with every step, Spanx followed the zigzag stairs up through a hole broken in the concrete roof. He emerged into the open air, walked across a ramp made of an old steel door to a corner of the building platform where an antique, jerry-rigged elevator, cadged from the remnants of a decrepit old hotel, wobbled its way down to him through a metal-mesh shaft. The shaft was tentatively attached by U-shaped hardened-plastic braces to the concrete wall of the higher, adjacent building. The vibration of the descending elevator transmitted to the mesh causing the bolts in the braces to grind about loosely in their drill holes, threatening to pop out.
    “Might be the time has finally come for the collapse,” Spanx muttered to himself. His ho-buddies had been giving him crap about talking to himself for awhile now, since he’d started doing the rotters—the rotorstims. But he couldn’t bring himself to switch them off.
    He rode up in the squealing, open elevator, the wind off the buildings coming through the bars to parch his mouth; he rode up and up, foot by slow creaking foot, licking his lips, laughing at his own fear; muttering. “Listen to your heart pound, hode! It’s banging inside this metal tube you in, dumb shitter-shatter fuck. Whole thing going to crash down any second. Your heart beating so much it sets up vibration, like that butterfly theory thing ...” He had to work up some saliva to keep talking, his mouth was so dry. His mouth stayed open, operating a lot. “... and it send
that vibration outta your chest and the heartbeat gets, like, all into this elevator and goes into those bolts–” He turned his head to look in fascination at the bolts grinding sexily into the supporting building, bits of grit falling from the holes, a little more with each passage of the elevator. “—and those bolts get loose and—WHOA DAMN!—the whole thing falls and it knocks into those supports–” He turned to point, for no one but himself, at the underpinnings of the cross structure, like a tree-house that spanned two trees, connecting the building that held the elevator up and the unwieldy, visibly swaying superstructure of Rooftown rising from an old office building across the street. “—knock right into those puppies and knock ’em down and the whole thing comes down with it, ba-boom-ba-boom, house of cards, down she goes, couple three, maybe four thousand people up there ...” Were there that many? No one knew. Just seemed like it was always teeming with people. “... and they go crashing down, all, like, ‘YAHHHHHHHH! MOMMEEEEE!’ and ... any second now ... any fucking second ... I can feel it GO -IIIIIIINNNNG!” He laughed, delighted at the picture of it: he saw it quite clearly in his mind’s eye. “All, like, a movie. Watch it go down! ‘YAHHHH!’”
    But the antique lift had resisted the vibrations of his thudding heart, Spanx saw, and the elevator cabin came wheezing to a stop at the upper end of its metal-mesh shaft, and he struggled, as usual, to get the rusty old gate open, the gate that always reminded him of a portable playpen, accordion made out of Xs. Finally it slid aside, the Xs contracting, pinching skin off his thumb.
    Sucking at his bleeding thumb, Spanx said, “Shitter-shatter!” and stepped through onto the

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