Epicenter: Portsmouth

To celebrate the end of the world, here is a story I wrote years ago.

Portsmouth photo: Credit: dok1, flickr

I know something you don’t.

The world will end soon.  I know, as I sit here in my pink housecoat on the porch of my small home here in Portsmouth, Ohio.  The world will end soon, and it all starts in Portsmouth.  Do not doubt me.  You do not live here.  You have not seen the signs I have seen.

I had never noticed billboards until recently.  Nor did I ever view billboards as societal barometers.  Now I see that the billboards are indicative of changing times. The Red Cross has been buying up billboards. “We’ll be there,” the billboards predict. Sounds prescient to me.  And now there are more billboards for hospitals than car dealerships. This means something.

I put my Chevy up for sale today in preparation for whatever will come next. Better sell the car while someone will still be around to buy it.  I know this is best.

Credit: Alejandro Hernandez, flickr

The noise from the children in the playground catty-corner from me grows everyday. I used to relax out on the porch with my husband,  Nowadays, those sh** spawn of Satan sit on those shapeless bouncing things and scream, scream, scream.  I believe the increase in screaming is another indicator that this is the chosen spot.

Maybe, like dogs, children’s behavior can forecast some strange event. Or maybe those cackling kids are the cause of all.  This.  Maybe Mother Nature wants to shut them up.  Are they the cause or just a symptom? Chicken? Egg? If I were to begin the destruction of all humanity, I, too, would start here.

Please don’t tell anyone this next part.  I spray painted the word “EPICENTER” in the intersection of West & Rhodes, right by that playground.  I can’t say that people have noticed. Most in these parts can’t pronounce “epicenter”, nor define it. If a policeman encountered this road art, he wouldn’t trace it to me. Who would suspect a 68-year old retired school teacher of graffiti?

God sat me here, in my pink housecoat in Portsmouth, for a purpose. I think I know it now. I must warn you that our time is coming. If you lived here, you would understand too.  The end is near. I think I shall post this story on my fridge.  Then, when they are cleaning up, they will realize what a wise old woman I was.

Today, I shall write an op-ed piece for the New York Times. They will not print it of course. They will pass it around the newsroom and laugh. They will post it on their bulletin boards and laugh. At my expense, they will laugh. But they will not forget that silly old woman in Portsmouth. No, they will not forget that silly old woman in Portsmouth when the lead story in the Times begins with PORTSMOUTH, OH. (AP) –

Then those same cynics will look up from their cluttered desks (if real life newsrooms are like the ones on the sitcoms) at the letter I wrote (still posted above their desks), and boot up their computers to try to find my phone number so they can call me. And the police will want to interview me too. How could I know of impending disaster unless I was the cause, they will ask. I fear that I will not be there to answer.  Perhaps I will make enough money on the sale of my car to take a trip to someplace faraway.  Perhaps I shall spend my waning years traveling.

So far I have remained hushed about the upcoming events. I have left them only subtle clues, which will be far too difficult to trace to me.  Take the spray paint, for instance. I drove over to the Wal Mart in Huntington, where I purchased 2 cans of spray paint, 3 cases of Diet Coke, some of those chocolate covered graham cookies, and a box of adult diapers. I was afraid the clerk would strike up some conversation if I just bought the paint. “You workin’ on a project?” she might ask. So I added the Diet Coke and diapers. Store clerks don’t make conversation when you buy diapers for grownups.  “Loose stool?” is not polite conversation around these parts. And I think Heloise said I can use them to clean up spills in the kitchen.

I have begun collecting magazine articles about the nuclear testing back in the 50’s, when the government would detonate bombs in the Nevada desert. People would put on their sunglasses, drive out and watch. Nothing like subtracting a dozen years off your life in a dozen seconds.  But those who are still alive can tell some stories, I imagine.  I have become fascinated.  I should visit the isle of Bikini and the Nevada Test Site on my travels.

I must apologize for my tangents.  I just want to know what it’s like to be t the epicenter—to be there when the bomb goes off, when the earthquake starts, when the volcano blows.  Each one is different, but each one is similar.  No one would waste a bomb on Portsmouth. There is no Ohio River Valley fault line (at least not that I know about).  But it will begin here—from above or below.  I know it will begin here.  I shall plan my getaway soon.

This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
With a bang in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Please don’t say I didn’t tell you.

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