Sunday, April 24, 2016

318. Sundown Reflections

“Oh man. Would you look at those curves,” I rushed in to see and found C.W. using my laptop without permission. That’s very much against the rules, since the incident with a certain website. “Holy cow, get a load of this.” He looked at me and said, “You naughty boy.” He gave me a wink, a ridiculous gesture in his present form of the teenage wonder kid.

I came around him and looked. “Get out of there,” I said. He had found some files of old photos I had taken when I fancied myself as a photographer skilled in black and white studies of the human form. Really. Just an artistic endeavor.


“Does she know you have these? He pushed my hand away and continued scrolling. “Man oh man,” he said.

I wrestled the laptop away and exited the folder he had been examining. “Just what,” I said, “do you think you are doing?”

“How old were you when you took those?” He offered his best impression of a conspiratorial look.

“None of your business. Now what are you doing on my laptop?”

“Writing a report.”

“To whom?”

“The Falloonian Elders.”

“About what?”

“The so-called ‘The time in the evening when the sun disappears or daylight fades-cities in America.' He paused. “How did you talk her into it?”

I ignored him as I was trying to decipher his last statement. “Do you mean “Sundown Cities?”

“That’s what I said. You need to get your ears checked.”

“Are the sunspots affecting your Galactic Universal Translator again? You need to get it checked.”

“My GUT is fine and I trust it above all as your last president used to say. It’s your conscience that you should be worried about. Ooo la la. He made that swarmy face again, sort of a cross between Joel Osteen and Eddie Haskell.”

It was my turn to practice ignoring. “Why are you interested in Sundown Cities?”

“I’m not. The elders are.”

“And why are the elders interested?”

“They saw a documentary about them.”

“A documentary?”

“Yes. They like to watch documentaries from Earth during the Tri-Moon Phase while there is much laughter and jollity going on. Hey,” he said, “maybe I could do one on young husbands who talk their wives into doing something silly and don’t destroy the evidence like they promised. I could call it ‘The Unused.’ Get it?”

“So what do you want to know about Sundown Cities?”

“Did they really post signs on the city limits saying “People of color, probably descendants of dark-skinned guest works imported from the African mainland, don’t let the sun go down on you in this town.”

“I don’t think that’s the exact terminology used, but yes, that was the basic message.”

“And if a person ignored the warning, what happened?”

“You don’t want to know.” I hit “delete,” and gave him a mock smile.

“You missed one,” he said.

“Oh.” I searched and then looked at him. “And where is it?”

“Somewhere in cyberspace speeding toward its final destination.”

“You better not have.”

“So,” he said. “Back to Sundown Cities and their signs. Do they still exist?”

“The cities do but not the signs, unless one is hanging on the wall of some aged mayor’s hunting lodge.”

“But the cities, they still exist?”

“Quite so.”

“How do they get the message across?”
Now I finally understand coded
 messages like "Good Schools." -C.W

“They have more subtle ways in modern times.”

“And I suppose the cities themselves are slowly disappearing?”

I looked up from my computer in surprise. “What are you talking about?”

“I would assume they are not highly sought-out places in these more enlightened times.”

“Are you kidding me?” I pushed the computer away.

“No. Why? You don’t mean such cities still thrive?”

“Thrive?” I said. “They are some of the fastest growing places in our state.”

He started to say something but a piercing shriek shattered the air. “Jimmieeeee,” it said. “Don’t let sundown catch you in this house again.” I heard the scuffling of a chair at my wife’s computer station. I turned to ask C.W. what this was about.

He was gone.

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