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.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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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.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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