Tall Buildings

old la buildings

Another entry in my Fables and Dramas series. Another of my fables: “Tall Buildings”


A denizen of one of the bigger east-coast cities, or, indeed, of any teeming city in any part of the world not of the pristine and historically unmoored American West would no doubt be perplexed to come upon a news site that had an item which was titled “Man jumps from 12th floor in Los Angeles.”  “Twelfth floor?” this putative surfer would no doubt sputter.  “Really?  They build buildings that big out there?  Won’t they crash like stacked soda cans when the Big One ™ hits?”  To which, of course, the jumper could give the finger in the infinite moment before his body hit the pavement, and perhaps unfortunate and inattentive passers-by.

I know this from experience.  Los Angeles does indeed have many 12-story buildings—many buildings much greater than 12 stories, even!  No, they’re not all compacted together, like glass and steel and stone blades of grass sprouting from a small plot of soil.  No, in L.A. they have room to breathe, expanding outward as they rise upward, giving their tenants views of mountains and oceans (smog permitting), not of neighbors across the alley in adjacent buildings.  L.A. is truly the city of the present and the future—and even the past, of drama and fable and fable.  Look at the wide boulevards, look at the arching freeway superstructures, look at the little architectural gems littering the landscape, plopped down by someone with money and imagination.  Oh, I tell you, this is the place to be.  No place like it, no sir.  This is how America will look, eventually:  jumbled, polyglot, the past plowed under for the present and recalled—if worthy of being recalled—as myth.

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Another writing project which I plan to pick up is a story collection entitled Fables and Dramas. I’ve written three pieces for each. For your Saturday enjoyment, the first Fable: Metamorphosis.


One morning—a Tuesday morning, in fact—Allison woke up to find that all her hair had fallen out. It lay spread out about her in a red halo on her pillows. At first, dazed as she was from pulling out of a strange dream, she wasn’t quite sure what was happening. She noticed the room’s cool air brushing over her bare scalp, and thought it odd, somehow out of place. She almost put her hand to her head, but held it back; whether she did so out of fear or just a change of mind she was never sure. She sat up in the bed, and felt lighter, her head not weighed down by the falling locks of red curls that used to grace her. She looked down on her pillow, and saw her hair there, strands and strands of it, almost fully covering her pillow, red hair on a sparkling white pillowcase. She looked at her hair for a long time, the gross reality of the situation barely registering on her mind. “That’s my hair,” she said, in a tiny, almost meek voice—which fit, because she usually had a tiny, meek voice, except now it was tinier, even more timid as the terrible nature of what had occurred to her began to imprint itself. “That’s my hair,” she repeated, as if saying the words, giving speech to the event could make it more comprehensible. She finally brought her hand to her head, running it over her bare scalp; her brow rose in consternation as she brushed her scalp again and again, caressing it the way, well, the way a bald man would, the way she’d seen her father do in times of stress and frustration, from the hairline at almost the base of the skull forward, slowly, over the forehead and down over the eyes, trying to expel whatever disturbing thoughts had collected during the day. Her fingers danced over the supple, soft skin, her palm pressed on the smooth surface. It was as if, of a sudden, the individual strands of her hair had decided collectively to evacuate her scalp, follicles and all, detaching themselves like the stages of a rocket, leaving her head completely, without a trace. It was quite odd, and she had no means by which to process the significance of the incident. What would she do?  Was there some remedy to be had?  Should she collect her stranded hair, perhaps to make a wig out of it—it would still be her hair, after all, just translated to another form of existence. She brought her hand to her chest and clutched at her pajama top, the experience suddenly becoming too much for her, the enormity of it finally dawning on her. “That’s my hair,” she let out in a raspy scream.

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