Tornado Trailer Park (Pt. 2)
moonshine burning every part of his mouth and throat as he worked to swallow it down.
“Auggh!,” Clem shouted as the liquid slid into his stomach like a magma flow. “What is this stuff?”
“Let's call it bathtub gin and keep it at that,” Chip said, reclining in his lawn chair and checking his antique pocket watch again as he squinted at the maelstrom wall.
“You don't make it in the same tub you bathe in do you?”
“You really want me to answer that?”
Clem didn't. Instead he looked up from the tin cup of rocket fuel and followed Chip's gaze to the swirling chaos of impenetrable dirt and filth that loomed just a dozen or so feet in front of him. Every once in a while Clem would see a recognizable object fly by, like a washing machine or a mangled bicycle. He could have sworn he saw that Ford Festiva go hurtling by at one point too. The tornado wall towered up over him and reminded him of the time he went to Houston and stood gawking up at all those skyscrapers for the first time. But though it made him feel small and insignificant, it was still better than looking out at what lay behind him.
Chip checked his watch again.
“What are you doing with that watch?”, Clem asked, risking another slug of moonshine.
“Waiting for cow o'clock,” Chip said, as if the answer was obvious.
“What the fu...,” Clem began to ask before Chip raised a shushing finger and then pointed down the wall at something that hurtled towards them a few dozen feet off the ground. Clem rubbed his eyes when he saw what it was and then dumped out the rest of the moonshine that was in his cup.
It was a cow.
Clem watched it as it tumbled end over end through the rushing debris and smoke, letting out a plaintive moo as it went. Both men watched it spin past until it became a small brown-and-white dot that was eventually swallowed whole by the filthy clouds.
Chip smiled and put his watch back into the bib pocket of his overalls. He picked up the jug of gin that sat next to him and took a big haul, smirking at the shocked expression on Clem's face.
“That cow was still alive?” Clem asked , his voice full of awe. He absently held his cup out for Chip to refill. “I thought you said that wall shredded anything that go too close to it?”
“It is, I did, and it does,” Chip answered. “That cow right there is as close a metaphor to life in The Eye as you can get. Folk who struggle against it, throw themselves at the walls of this prison, get shredded. The ones who accept it and go along with it survive and find a way to get by. That cow accepted it fate a long time ago and now every three hours and eighteen minutes it completely circles The Eye. It's kind of become our clock.”
“How long has it been doing that?”
“As long as I've been here, probably longer.”
“How long has that been?”
“I got here on April 3rd, 1974 and you said it was 2008 outside. So there you go. But time doesn't work the same in here I think. Otherwise I'd look over sixty and I don't. I don't, do I?”
“No, you look fine,” Clem said, distracted. “So no one leaves? I'm trapped here? Am I dead?
“You could be dead,” Chip offered, frowning as he seemed to consider it. “I've often thought this might be purgatory. It would make sense, I guess.”
“I don't feel dead. I twisted my ankle something fierce when I fell here, seems if a fella was going to die and end up in a wind prison they'd at least make it so you couldn't hurt yourself.”
“That is a good point. Plus, I've seen quite a few people die in the time I've been here and you wouldn't think that would happen either.”
Reluctantly, Clem turned around and looked into The Eye.
From where he was standing on top of Chip's trailer he could see for maybe a couple of miles and what he saw didn't make sense. He looked down on a twisted maze of junked metal and debris stretched out in front of him, culminating in the large pile of jagged detritus that had built up near the maelstrom wall and, according to Chip, ran its entire circumference. Off to the west and east he could make out what looked like a couple of small villages made up of re-purposed materials and a few spots of cultivated vegetation. Looming over it all in the middle was a gigantic stone tower that seemed to be constantly crumbling as Clem looked at it, heavy stones fell from all sides of it but it never seemed to lose any height or girth.
“I gotta get the hell out of here.”