Mr. Kringle-go-Round

He plotted a path across the highway. As he slowly walked, the rushing machines went right through him as if he wasn’t even there.

UFO over city for Mr. Kringle.

Time stands still beneath a December moon. The moon has its own scars, just like the sun and all the planets. Most men and women have scars if they’ve lived any. He considered it all, the cruelty of man to man as he passed before the face of it.

The rush of the throng on their way to nowhere, to just stare at each other and the wonder that we all are or were or will be again, if we could just get out of our own ways. He suddenly lost all faith in the humanity of Earth and went down.

The wreckage of the flying saucer from another time was scattered about on Route 39 in rural Pennsylvania. Mr. Kringle crawled out from under it all, lay flat on his back in his silver suit and stared up at space. A deer came out of the forest and came to him and nuzzled him, licked at his burns.

Mr. Kringle sighed. “My navigation just isn’t the same as it used to be.” He looked into the seemingly fake eyes of the tepid deer, like glossy black marbles they were. “I was once an excellent flyer of these things. But I’m getting old again.”

He got up with a groan, brushed himself off and worked to gather the pieces of the craft into a pile. “I might as well just vaporize it all,” he bemoaned. He looked at his strange watch. “There’s no human spirit in Christmas anymore. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten shot yet.” Then he noticed he was only talking to the wind and the trees. “Where has my friendly deer gotten off to now?” he wondered. He scoffed. “Relationships never last.”

He looked around but he couldn’t see much in the darkness. It would have been evil witch black, black as pitch, black as permanent blindness had it not been for that December moon tacked to the sky like art in a chalky, sterile museum.

“I sure do wish I was in a warm hotel room in Niagara Falls with a nice glass of ginger ale right about now,” he said. “But I suppose that’s just wishful thinking.”

He decided to just start walking. The soles of his silver boots crunched across the forest floor for a long time and then in the distance he could hear the roar of traffic on a road or a highway of some sort. He came upon it at the edge of the woods and beyond the interstate there was a dome-shaped glow. It was a city. But what city? It could be any city. A city unknown to himself and billions more like him. Perhaps at one time long ago… In the wonderous modern age, the time when humanity was the best it would ever be, before the prehistoric time, the fall, the crash, the burn.

He plotted a path across the highway. As he slowly walked, the rushing machines went right through him as if he wasn’t even there. He thought about death and all the times and ways he had experienced it. Now death barely affected him. He just kept going. One life after another it seemed.

Once he was to the other side of the interstate, he looked back across and into the dark wall of forest beyond. His memories were fading, he thought to himself. The memories of the places and the people and the things he had done… It was all slowly vanishing from his heart. There was no longer anyone left to remember him. And if there was, they no longer let it be known. It was a loneliness bred by final betrayals and a lust for the obscenely mundane.

Mr. Kringle looked up at the stars that he so readily swam through these days. He was glad that he got involved in flying the saucers. It gave him an opportunity to escape the blandness that his life had become. It allowed him peace and quiet that he rarely ever got. And he was good at it. At least he used to be good at it. He would eventually have to explain the crash to someone. But he didn’t really care about it at that moment.

He was tired and he was thirsty and he just wanted to find a place to sleep for the night and maybe somewhere to get something to eat. He was longing for a late-night plate of roast beef with gravy on open-faced toast and a side of mashed potatoes. Mr. Kringle imagined a lonely meal in a lonely diner that was bathed in lonely orange and golden light and the lonely world out there on the other side of the greasy windows. He pictured a raspy-voiced waitress standing in the corner with a cigarette and watching him suspiciously. He could hear the dinging of the little silver bell when the cook put up his order and she emerged from her nicotine cloud slowly, with no sense of urgency.

His imagination righted itself back to reality and he came upon a lighted trail of chain motels and restaurants at an exit ramp to a small city where people lived and where other people, the travelers, couldn’t believe people lived. To the travelers it was but a puff of smoke, a quick dip in the well. To the ones that lived there, it was life and love and hurt and beauty and damage and monotony and battles and every other thing that a life is. The leavers stayed for maybe an hour, ate, used restrooms, pitied the fools like Mr. T. Then the leavers got back into their rides and left and went on to another town with lives they did not know of.

By the time Mr. Kringle reached the hotel of his choice that really wasn’t a choice but merely acceptance, the one with the public relations smile in broken plastic neon and the clean towels and the impeccable service provided by grinning robotic corpses, he died once more. He collapsed right there in the lobby. Onto a cold floor recently cleaned with a dirty mop. His last breath tasted of bleach. A woman screamed. A small crowd gathered around him. He saw their faces fade away as he was pulled into the light once more. There it was again… And again and again and again. Death door’s welcoming blowtorch on angel wings.


2 thoughts on “Mr. Kringle-go-Round

  1. This is a delightful, if acerbic, story. It’s wonderfully atmospheric. And you craft (pardon the pun) the speculative character so well. I like the subcutaneous reason given (not given) for UFOs. I wonder if he might come back from death next time to have a better story for himself. To reach the diner and have what he wants, at least.

    Really great work!–Christopher

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