Robert Bradley

I ate my cereal on the patio; watched the sun torch the treetops, scorch the grass. Birds fell to the ground, hopped around, dropping tail feathers. The omens were everywhere, if you knew where to look. Around noon I carried myself down to the corner bar.

Tiberius stared at me a second, and then reached into an icy chest, pulled out a bottle, set it down on a coaster. The President was on TV passing some remarks at a podium before a clutch of cameras and reporters.

"Iraq: the sun-raped cities;" said Tiberius, "our gods were born there."

"Not mine," I said. "Change that."

Tiberius flicked the remote and baboons appeared on the TV screen. According to the narrator they were speaking to each other in sign language.

"The communication styles of chimps and bonobos may show how early humans evolved," said the TV.

"Evolution," said Tiberius, "language, superior intelligence, this is our inheritance."

"Boredom, evil, nostalgia," I said. "That's our inheritance."

Next we were being told that unlike other apes, the bonobos copulate face to face.

"Not me," I said. "Not anymore." 

"You know what I like?" Tiberius said. "Nature."

"Me too," I said, settling in. "I like to watch it on TV."

"Animals in their natural environment."

"Killing and being killed."

"Vast tracts of land, sea and sky."

"All that desolation."

"The ancestral lands."

"All that spoiled beauty," I said.

"The great apes are being hunted to extinction," the television said.

"God is imminent," said Tiberius.

"That's our predicament," I said.

"The Glory of God," said Tiberius.

"How do we stop it?" I said. "That's the question."

"A New World Order is at hand."

"Living beings," I said, "I have a message for you." But no one was listening.

I cracked open some walnuts. The future was right there in front of me, taking shape. I saw the broken shell, the spilled contents on the bar. The signs were there.

Robert Bradley has written some stories. (Wigleaf's Ed. has really enjoyed ones of his in FRiGG and Everyday Genius.)

Detail of art on main page courtesy of Gomez Biggeri.

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