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Heat Effect

It looked as if it would be hot forever.

Raw sky liquid pouring stink. All the cold is stripped out of everything; even ice cream is hot to the touch. It came in like a tidal wave of buffalo, giant humid buffalo each the size of an 8-story building racing out to Coney Island to dive into the Atlantic ocean and swim north to Canada.

One of the men in one of the apartments in Astoria, Queens, was making out with a beautiful young woman in thong underwear. He had met her and had some drinks with her. He was sweating terribly and at a critical moment he turned entirely to water. He splashed down everywhere, soaking the sheets, the mattress, the carpet. She screamed for a minute, then got up and had a cigarette. His pants were still on the floor by the bed. She wondered who to call.

Spiteful air conditioners spit unwanted exudate onto the passive shoulders and sheening pates of pedestrians. The pedestrians moved slowly, their plodding silhouettes cut out in front of a growing sun, a sun the size of an elephant rampaging through the sky.

A man's skin turned to wax and stuck to his wife's skin, which had also turned to wax, the two skins marbling together. Rats grew huge, the size of men, and subway cars put cowcatchers at their fores to sweep the rats off. At Fulton Mall, a sparrow and a squirrel quarreled with tiny knives, stabbing at each other. Alligators died in the sewers from thirst and exhaustion, and their bodies blocked the pipes.

A general dispiritedness descended. People came to conclusions. They decided that they were tired of music and bored with the Internet. They decided to avoid baseball until the series. They planned to divorce, fantasized about being beaten, and escaped to movie theaters, watching blockbusters bluster and blow. They became disappointed. It looked as if it would be hot forever.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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