Pan down from the starless night sky. Stop. This is real life on a dead end street. The sign at the end of the street — if it is to be called a street — looms large and yellow and. The viewer feels restless in its brightness. Stop. A plastic bag, color indeterminate in the light, lies deflated and still against the curb on the right. Vague linseed and fluorescent street lights tawny the asphalt. Dead End. This could mean so many things and so few. In a backyard that may or may not be on the Dead End, a small dog yaps at something unseen, unheard. “A thoroughfare (usu. including sidewalks) that is lined with buildings.” The houses lurk in shadow, as the camera rolls down the Dead End, swings, around the plastic bag, brushes under the hackberry leaves and comes back out. Stop. The dog has stopped barking. Pan up. Stop.
Live Ends by Forrest
I check the handbook: Yellow diamond indicates motorist general warning, but nothing’s general about a Dead End. The terminus is specific while trapped speeding in a vehicle, to be sure, though I am a pedestrian who carries DMV materials while jogging at night. And, no, I am not running away from imminent danger here. I am brushing up on warnings. This tired neighborhood won’t imitate a cheap horror show, I keep telling myself. It can’t be so bloody obvious.
My wife, on the other hand. She had suggested needs while jogging with me, that I search for a Live End that leads elsewhere but still concludes abruptly. Yet I liked the idea. I thought I could startle her by the random cul-de-sac. A little entertainment. Change of the dial.
In pointing out Live Ends to others—assuming I find any—I will use orange to indicate them. Orange signage for maintenance appropriates more caution, I think, since an impending development can’t be specified beyond familiar appearances or the expectation of a self-regulatory barrier. That tucked-in sidestreet way, way down by the dry reservoir, for instance. The cheerless bungalow. It has the makings of a deviation taken at my own peril for another person who will remain unknown to me.
I don’t believe I’ve been regarded the same there before.
The Super Eights by Bill
Not sure if I am being unproductive, maybe I am being preproductive. Uterproductive. We are of course Samsar-productive. We manage. Time manages. Same thing. All in all it has to be easier out there someplace. Maybe on the thunder road. Maybe in the sun where the boats weave on the sands and the memory of water. Your choices weren’t the best, but whose are? Ok, maybe you clogged the rivers with excrement that smelled like hexane and turpentine and we didn’t really do much to stop it (learning to drive a back-hoe was fun), and we were busy pumping enough nutria-sweetners into our blood we were embalmed with metabolized formaldehyde by the time we learned Reagan wasn’t going to die and spent the next century posing in wax museums while we waited for that plastic sheen to wear off our bodies.As I said, we manage. If you ever manage to evolve again, well, hopefully we’ll have kept the lights on for you.
Stealing Signs by Beth
My boyfriend’s parents’ Airstream trailer was full of signs he’d stolen. The trailer was parked for good at the end of a narrow dirt road, and his parents never used it anymore. The coffee table said Stop. Frost Heave hung on the bathroom door. He’d stacked orange cones in a kitchen corner, and one morning we woke up to a Railroad Crossing pole stuck six feet out into the pond.
I yelled for an hour when he brought in the purple garden ball on the sandstone stand, stomping up and down the trailer’s tiny hallway. Stealing from the town was okay, but I didn’t like him making off with things from people’s yards. I didn’t want him to be that person.
On summer weekends he had parties at the trailer. His parents bought the alcohol, delivered it to us, and then left us alone. He was their youngest child by eighteen years.
Later I read in the newspaper that four kids went to jail for stealing a Stop sign because somebody ran through it and got killed. But it’s all so arbitrary, you know? What counts as a crime and what doesn’t. What can be stopped.
Lovely by Alan
Lovely is the sign that exits the road. Lovely is the notion that serves to protect. Lovely is the miracle that makes the cul-de-sac. Lovely is the evening that surrounds us when we’re thinking. Lovely is remembrance. Lovely is the court. Lovely is the cars parked in a circle for summer’s final note. Lovely is the night as black as crow’s dreams. Lovely is this is why we came and for safety and for peace. Lovely is the nearsightedness. Lovely is the far away. Lovely is the immigration from highway to this way. Lovely is the stationary. Lovely is the sway of maples when it’s dark and we’re asleep. Lovely is this memory. Lovely is this street. Lovely is the way we grow up and think back and reconsider and never leave.
Untitled by Nicole
I have American Syndrome. There are no pills to take for this. It’s as if one day I hope to arrive at life but I know it won’t happen but yet it happens all the time. It’s the moments of satisfaction akin to a stuffing, a feeling, and fullness that I want to feel constantly. But each moment arrives and becomes the past that becomes the memory. So we move on to more and more of the future, forgetting. And we repeat the pattern again and again. And I think I am circling a cul-de-sac like a mouse on a wheel, a person on a treadmill, or a pinball stuck in the chamber without enough force to push it.