Every single human being is part of a grand
universal plan. Thats what my Nana always says. Were not alive
just to lounge around and contemplate our umbilicus. Were metaphysical
beings! Open us up, and theres more rattling around in
there than just brain sacs and fatty tissue. We are full of imperceptible
essences. Invisible spectrums. Patterns. Ideas. Were containers
of awesome phenomena! Which is why its important to live
right. You have to be attuned to whats around you, and you have
to keep from clogging your receptors with crap. According to my
Nana, the universe is sending signals every day, and its up to us
whether or not we want to listen. We can either perk up our ears,
or walk around like dead piles of dermis. I always preferred the former.
Which is why I found myself up on top of the roof of our dome
on that fall Sunday when everything began.
I couldnt tell you for certain that Id ever heard messages from
space up there, but at the very least I had a tremendous view. Hanging
in the brisk October air, Anver heavy-duty suction cups on my
hands, and a no-slip rubber guard harness around my chest, I could
see the entire town of North Branch arranged with the uniformity
of an architectural model. It stretched below me like a wide lake
of split-level dwellings, flowing over the small hills and dips in the
eastern Iowa landscape. And above the horizon was the endless iceblue
troposphere, nearly unobstructed save for the waving branches
of our black walnut trees.
It was this towering group of trees that gave me my official reason
for ascending to the top of the dome that Sunday. Every autumn
they bombarded our translucent roof with pungent green-shelled
nuts the size of tennis balls, and it was my job to climb the walls like
a salamander and scrub away the stains. For this purpose, I kept
a large squeegee strapped to my back along with a small bucket of
orange-scented cleaning solution. And once attached to the glass, I
scrubbed each insulated panel, and kept an eye on my Nana inside
at the same time. Right beneath me, through a soapy triangle of
glass, I could see her on her NordicTrack, grinding away. Click-
Clackita Click-Clackita Click-Clackita. The sound was like a distant
Just the day before, she had told me that most human beings
only saw a hundred-thousandth of the world in their lifetime.
Maybe a ten-thousandth if they traveled a lot. Only she called the
world Spaceship Earth, because thats what Buckminster Fuller
called it, and she thought he was humanitys last real genius. Either
way, I was sure I could see my entire portion from this spot. Up
on top of the dome, my view was quite possibly someones whole
Sebastian! Nana called from below, her voice echoing off the
glass. Are you watching for visitors up there?
She stood outside now, squinting up at me.
Affirmative! I yelled. No sightings at present.
Nana called the weekend tourists to our home visitors, as
if they were alighting on our lawn from other galaxies in blinking
mother ships. In reality, most of them made the trip in large
automobiles, and it was my job to spot them from my perch. It was
early yet for visitors, though. Every Saturday and Sunday we opened
our home to the public at nine oclock sharp, but it was usually ten
or ten-thirty before anyone arrived. According to Nana, people in
the Midwest had to finish with church before they could seek any
leisure. They had to exalt and repent, and perhaps attend potlucks.
We had begun giving tours a few years back because our home
was the first Geodesic Dome ever constructed in Iowa, and there
seemed to be some interest in that fact. In truth, we were only
a moderate-to-marginal tourist attraction, but most years we
made enough to supplement Nanas modest pension, which is all
we needed. No matter how much we brought in, though, I was
supposed to behave as if we were overrun with business. Negative
thinking sent out the wrong kind of messages to the higher powers,
Nana said. Each negative thought was like a hemorrhoid to the
controlling forces of the universe. It burned them endlessly.
Make sure to get the northwest side, Sebastian! Nana shouted
now. I spotted some bird waste over there. Then come down for
breakfast. I need to speak with you.
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