the Obelisk

the Obelisk

A Story by SR Urie

a study in perspective: after 35 years away from his hometown, a man makes unusual observations about what's happening to people around him.


The Obelisk


     Ways that the mind alters perceptions of places after a great many years pass by affects people differently. Babies grow to become children, and then to teenagers, and ultimately into adults who mature into the different people as life goes on, and we pursue those endeavors that we aspire to individually. Some of us lead simple existences within the relative sphere of our families and communities, basically staying in the same place from the cradle to the grave, and that is good for some. Others are infected with the remnants of American Manifest Destiny, not being able to leave home soon enough so they can make their relative mark in the history of mankind the best way possible. And there are those who are somewhere in between, living life as it comes, going where it’s necessary to survive and have some semblance of success.

Still, in all of us as Homo sapiens, human beings, our minds react differently to what happens in our lives, especially after a long time. For one such man, after three decades he found himself no longer on the lingering road he’d lived on for so long, but where he once called home.  And what a strange feeling to find one’s self walking down the hometown streets of his youth: Longmont is now a completely different town than what it was in the mid-late twentieth century. It’s now a place with different sounds and sights, the old familiar hidden beneath the fall colors of the trees and dingy brown painted panels that covers what was once brick and mortar.

Crossing Main Street, easterly on 3rd Avenue and heading north on Coffman, the shops and cafes appeared more like they should be in some metropolitan megacity like Kansas City or Chicago, or even New York City. Yet as Henry strolled past the rustic buildings in his sneakers, blue jeans, and button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the old Longmont, Colorado he grew up in slowly emerged in the Sunday morning sun with all the modern advances of the year of 2015. Instead of the bustle of opening shops, cafes, and factories enlivened by the radio and mod music of the evolving post modernist late 1970s of television sitcoms and anti-Viet Nam war rallies, now flat screen televisions came to life within the offices preparing to open as young men and women walked briskly up and down the paved sidewalks, completely absorbed in the hand-held devices that connected them with the modern world via the World Wide Web. African American people sat in cars and trucks, smoking cigarettes and sipping hot coffee. Hispanic men and women sat in little bunches, chattering in Spanish and munching on breakfast bundles in their hands while waiting for transport to daily labors. Elderly folks ambled along slowly and carefully, as if in case there was a trip or fall to the ground, they could be descended upon by the young for what little was left in their wallets. There were dogmatic girls in gothic black and bizarre big boys with funky hairdos, piercings in their faces, mostly with lipsticked lips and made up cheeks. There were also normally dressed people, men and women walking in upscale apparel on the way to some important business or job. All these individuals " everybody " sharing that one prevailing, inexplicable activity; intense concentration of their own private worlds contained in the tiny little TV sets they held in their hands that kept them connected to the Internet. As Henry strolled up Coffman, self-conscience of how blatantly he lacked a handheld Internet world of his own, he watched those around him and considered how it once was.

It was almost thirty five years ago when Henry’s mom - Doris - packed up young Henry, his kid brother Butch and little sister Melanie, and all their possessions in a YOU-Haul truck, driving away to destinations Floridian for better weather and more promising employment prospects with Doris’s younger brother Rodd. Henry’s mind was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time again as the roar of heavy traffic triggered his ears to recap how enormous Longmont grew after three and a half decades, for it was now an enormous metropolis, as inherently as the aforementioned large cities became in their own rights.

The newly paved yet familiar old streets and changing colors of the leaves on the trees brought internal images of the lovely blue eyes and blonde hair of sexy Lorelei, the long flowing brown of Elizabeth’s hair and her huge brown eyes above her buxom figure and wonderful smile, and the short blonde hair and green eyes of exquisite Pam who’d taught Henry how to dance the waltz, actually motivating him to don an honest to God tuxedo; all memories surrounding the Saint Vrain Memorial Building where such wholesome city sponsored community activities drew out Henry’s adolescence to where his heart was so badly broken so many times over the years by wonderful teenaged girls who absolutely had to live their own lives, ultimately without Henry. Sure, it was painful getting dumped over and over again, but after so much time and so many other issues of life, all Henry wanted was to see the old statue of the Civil War Soldier in front of the Saint Vrain building one more time and reminisce the importance of what romance once meant to the passionate young fool he used to be.  When Henry crossed 6th Avenue and crossed to the West side of Coffman as he passed a florist shop, the modern normal Longmont pedestrians took on a most disturbing transformation.

Henry didn’t recognize the first man before him who wore a grey business suit and a bewildered expression on his face as the sixty or so year old man hovered three or four feet above the ground. The old fellow’s eyes darted around in fear, his mouth wide open. It was obvious that the poor man had no idea what was happening or how it was possible for his feet to be projected up from the ground. The old man just floated past Henry in a southerly direction, the poor guy just continued to look around himself in terror, mesmerized to the point of total silence in his throat, while the fingers of his hands flailed and reached for some measure of substance to hold on to in order to pull himself up and off of what was silently and enigmatically propelling him through the air. There was a weird transparent line seemingly below the fellow’s feet; a streak, a thin wisp of a circle that flashed faded gold like an errant reflection of light from one of the windows of the Home State Bank located across the street. And there were other people too, others in the same condition of mesmerized elevation where their feet were propelled about three or four feet above the street, their eyes flitting in fear and their fingers flailing for some kind of release of the bizarre voyage apparently originating from the Well Fargo Bank building on the corner of Coffman Street and Longs Peak Avenue.

There was a middle aged African American woman in a stylish dress that flowed outward from the hovering source below her feet that revealed her knees above her shiny pump shoes.  A button on the dress over her bosom unfastened, revealing ample cleavage as her arms and hands and fingers flapped in the air to find some kind of anchor as her feet drew her up above the sidewalk, toward and then past Henry; her small leather purse thrust up in the air by the propelling force coming from beneath her, the strap firmly arresting it to the woman’s waving arm.  And there was a young workman in coveralls and a ball type cap, his face drained white and his thick glasses angling to one side over his nose. He held a crescent wrench in one hand and a screwdriver in the other, and his expression of fear and bewilderment reiterated the old man and the well-dressed woman. The young man’s wayward journey took him on a more southeasterly direction while the woman’s was more south-by-southwest, but like the old man they both seemed to have come from the Wells Fargo building and both evidently had the same flashing, translucent disc-like circle that was more a fleeting reflection from some obscure window in the morning sunshine.

As Henry approached the back door of the Wells Fargo building, another victim of the mesmerizing floating phenomenon pushed the back door open from within and a shabbily dressed woman who appeared homeless slowly plunged forward towards Henry, but heading more in the direction the lady in the dress went " sort of  - but in the same bewildered, scared manner of reaching out with her dirty hands and greasy fingers, her tattered clothes pulled out to their limits by the same inexplicable force that propelled her feet through the air like the others. This woman’s otherwise disheveled face gazed up in an inquisitive stupor, revealing inherent beauty in her brown eyes and supple lips and white teeth. Again she headed more towards the other lady with the purse and not the young workman or the old man did. One thing stuck out in Henry’s mind about the floating people as he watched, not one was enmeshed in their own personal hand-held internet TV set, and that’s when Henry noted the first dude, the old guy, was gone.

The old fellow was travelling down Coffman Street, but he wasn’t travelling at any remarkable speed, maybe two or so miles an hour in speed, so he would surely still be seen clearly unless the fellow was no longer there at all. Stepping aside so as not to interfere with the tattered woman’s course, Henry turned and looked at the workman and the well-dressed lady who both continued slowly through the air in mesmerized fear.  Then the lady in the nice dress and purse seemed to come to her senses, still hovering about four feet above the pavement of Coffman Street, but her dazed look was gone and her eyes met Henry’s.

“What the hell?” the lady shouted. “What am I… ?”

“Help, hh, …hh, … help!”

Her legs and arms began to flap back and forth, struggling with some weird force that seized her body, and she let out a high pitched, feminine scream of terror as the obscure flash of translucence below her pump shoes transformed to a glass-like bubble that rose up and obscured the woman visibly, like an upside down splash of a watery sheath that eerily masked the scene behind her. Then the whole spectacle flashed some obscure reflection from somewhere across the street, and the well-dressed African American woman was gone as well, right into thin air like from some spooky ghost movie.

Startled, Henry turned back to the homeless looking lady and she continued her slow but sure journey to God only knew where, and now another man in a business suit emerged from the back door of the Wells Fargo building, except this guy was in his early thirties, black hair combed neatly back on his head, and he had a small mustache that was closely cropped above his upper lip. Still, this guy had the same terrified look of astonishment and the same flailing of fingers, hands, and arms as the others as his eyes darted all around in fear.

There was a large stick beneath a tree near the parking lot, about an inch thick and a good three and a half feet in length. Henry picked it up and he carefully rushed over to the back door of the Wells Fargo building. The door was about to close as the young businessman floated away and Henry managed to pull it open and step into the bank. As he stepped into the bank office " sneaked really, doing his best James Bond " there was a low-pitched, peculiar sounding hum coming from the main counter of the bank vault. Henry didn’t see any people, though there was a young woman under one of the desks and the bank guard, an elderly African American man, was in the bank foyer where there was a pain of thick glass between himself and the source of the weird hum. The guard held his pistol up in front of his nose and he watched Henry with trepidation.

As Henry stooped over to the front of the bank counter he saw on the back wall a great big circle suspended about ten feet above the floor. The circle’s outer circumference had an eerie purplish-blue color that seemed to fluctuate, its outer line moving inward in syncopation.  There was a smaller circle in the center of the bigger one, this circle’s actual size growing out as the outer line grew in, both in tandem, and every time the syncopation occurred the eerie hum erupted, echoing from the entire floor of what was the large bank room. This huge circle, an enormous golden disc, this fluctuating obelisk that warbled in an evident lifelike cycle was actually not hanging from the wall at all, but hovered in place as if it were hung from a wire, draped down from above where it was lowered and raised again, slowly with each beating pulsation that bounced back up audibly from the floor in the aberrant hum. Henry studied the obelisk and inevitably could not avert his eyes.

The inner circle developed several horizontal lines, resembling text on a golden circular page. Having lost all control of his actions, Henry stood up and dropping the stick, faced the obelisk, childlike at first and then frantic at it because of what he saw happen to the well-dressed woman with the purse. The weird hum that reflected from the floor started emanating from Henry’s feet, and looking down he recognized a clear reflection of the obelisk under his feet. That is when the weird hum transfixed Henry’s attention from the obelisk behind the counter to the quasi-obelisk forming under his feet that rose up into the air, the edges of the quasi-obelisk draped the golden color of the obelisk away like liquid flowing down to the floor as the quasi-obelisk ascended, taking Henry’s tennis shoes, blue jeans, buttoned down shirt with the cuffs rolled up, and Henry’s transfixed, terrified eyes that darted all around in fear with it up, up, up into the air about ten feet at first until Henry was on the same level of the obelisk’s center.

The quasi-obelisk shifted Henry’s perspective around so that Henry faced away from the obelisk and headed toward the back door of the Wells Fargo building, descending to two or three feet above the floor that no longer pulsed in Henry’s ears. As Henry was transported he no longer felt his feet or his legs or his arms. His stomach had a strange imploding feeling like that of his internal organs were draining from within of their own volition, which was absolutely petrifying for Henry and it showed in his face. When he tried to push his hands out a wispy force prevented him from stretching his digits past a certain point, a force that was soft and squishy but completely unyielding in strength. When the back door of the Wells Fargo building pushed open, Henry hardly noticed the change of brightness at all; he was completely preoccupied with what his hands were not being allowed to do and overwhelmed with fear of what was going on in his belly, his chest, his bowels, and yes, even his head. After what seemed like hours, but only a minute or two in reality, the ghostly constraints of his hands and his legs dissipated, and Henry’s mind returned to full knowledge of what happened to the well-dressed lady and what was about to happen to him.

His eyes rolled over to Roosevelt Park, across Longs Peak Avenue from the Wells Fargo Bank, and his desire to remember lost romance with Lorelei, Elizabeth, and Pam flooded into his mind; all he wanted to do was see the old statue of the Civil War Soldier one last time. A terrified yell for help escaped his lips, and another scream of sheer fear of death as his body was torn apart at the molecular level and transported deep into space like the others before him.

A few minutes later the back door of the Wells Fargo building pushed open and the uniformed, elderly African American security guard slowly floated out into the morning air. He no longer held his pistol in apprehension, but the look of bewildered fear remained more intense. His hands and fingers flailed as his eyes flitted all around him in complete terror. The traffic sounds from Main Street continued to rise in intensity as the business day matured towards noon.

Whether the sounds of traffic continued after those few people were taken, or if it was the beginning of an end to humanity’s existence starting in the Wells Fargo Bank in the sprawling metropolis that was once a small Colorado town, or even if it was just the relative perception of a dying man as his spirit was transformed from an American adult to the nothingness where the quasi-obelisk delivered people to their destinies, at the very least it is that observation of Henry’s mind and singularity he experienced. To be sure, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let us hope it was the latter and that Henry can find some kind of peace after his screams subside for him and his perception of a hometown gone ultramodern as if in some Internet fantasy domain. Let us hope that the noise of Longs Peak Avenue and Main Street remain the reality, instead of the illusion of the obelisk for everybody else concerned.


SR Urie

© 2015 SR Urie

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Added on November 9, 2015
Last Updated on November 9, 2015


SR Urie
SR Urie


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