© 2023 Zack Kopp
As a teenager coming home at the end of a long Wednesday night at the factory skull-popped the arcangel would turn on the TV and sitting there it was like an ocean voyage, but these were waves of media, waves of information, television rays, and the TV Eye was a window to the future. In there was everything that would ever happen. Light played across the arcangel’s cheeks as the shows went into him. Maw and Paw Future lived in there, brave homesteaders, and Nellie, and Laura, Almanzo, and Albert Future, the streetwise orphan later got hooked on M, Hester Sue Future who loved everyone, Doc Hiram Future tall and puritanic-looking in black coat and hat, Old Isiaiah Future with the bushy beard, the whole gang. All these futures. All the things that could happen. God was doing all this for the arcangel’s sake. Television was a window to the possible. After getting off work at the slaughterhouse many years later, he climbed on the bus again and rode it down a wide avenue leading into the city.
The arcangel had implanted someone else’s heart into itself and was sitting around at the bus depot. An old janitor came to clean up all the blood everywhere. “Hey, you can’t sleep here,” he prodded. The arcangel lay there in the pool of its own waste as if asking the unanswerable. Isn’t this a public place? Am I not the private citizen U.S.A.? Making all these demands. The janitor hoisted him up by the bloody overalls and stood him in a corner. “You stay here. I’ll get the manager.” The manager gave him a good going over, saying what are you doing here overnight, who do you work for and what is your name, drilling him with all these questions. I am just an arcangel, the being uttered. I have implanted someone else’s heart into myself and it takes a long time, sometimes years, but the next six months will be very important. The authorities let him keep going after he explained what had happened. At work, a coffee maker had overflowed in the break room, spots everywhere, and he’d been first to leave a little note warning, “COFFEE MAKER NOT BREWING CORRECTLY. Thanks! H.L. Plumber.” Signing in with little curlicues around the second k. Ablaze with soul-destroying power. But he tried not getting caught in political games.
The other workers kept brokering some complicated agenda he had to make up discussions about, and he didn’t like it. Even so, it was all one big careless ballet to him, he endured it, preferring rather to glide along in the sway of the dominant current, as gracefully as he was able. In all his doings, he kept to the standard amount. That was the way he learned to count. By the standard amount. His standard proper living wage. It kept him in a certain place, beyond the scope of which he never ranged. It was true. It was strange. Howard walked into the slaughterhouse every time with a crisp little smile on his mug. Just walked inside the building, stamped his card in the time clock, then snapped on the government-issued latex gloves, tucking into that day or night’s shift. His main task was lopping things’ heads, tails, and hooves off, mostly cows and steers, before the rest of the carcass was pulverized down to a protein-rich gelatin and added to countless food products, ointments, and salves. Sometimes even the tail meat was used. Besides that, there was mopping up spilled blood or cleaning out the toilets, sloshing over the tiles with a blood-soaked mop.