portion of the artwork for Mary Lynn Reed's story

Disturbance in the Vicinity of Maple and Vine
Mary Lynn Reed

Bobbie sits in front of the window sipping oolong tea and talking about the benefits of Zen meditation.

Kepp paces back and forth, biting his fingernails. “Stop telling me to calm down,” he says. “You didn’t see or hear it. You were at fucking yoga. Maybe if you hadn’t been at fucking yoga—”

“Kepp—” Though it wasn’t her usual practice, when the situation required, Bobbie could stop your heart with a single word. In the span of one syllable she could broaden her shoulders and lengthen her neck until her voice filled the entire room.

Kepp cowers, then drops his head onto hers and his whole body goes limp. He lets out a slow moan. “It was awful,” he says. “Awesome—but awful. Mostly, it was awful.”

Bobbie strokes his hair, kisses the side of his face.

“OK,” he says. “OK.”

 The door opens and Wayne comes back inside. He’d been standing in the front yard with the police and the neighbors and Rickie’s parents. None of them were phased by such extraordinary events. It’s not like it was the first time.

Kepp peeks out the window. “Are they gone?” he says. “Are they?”

Wayne puts his hands on both of Kepp’s shoulders. He looks him straight in the eye. “You need to take a deep breath and relax and start talking. Get it out, man. Express it.”

Kepp falls into the loveseat beside Bobbie. She wraps her arms around him, holding on tight.

“It was something or nothing or who the hell knows,” Kepp says. “I heard a loud noise. Then saw the bright flash. Could have been anything, I guess. Freak thunder and lightning on a clear night. Shit. It was nothing, man. I didn’t see nothing.”

“Anything,” Wayne says. “Use the English language with some care, Dr. Long. You’re an astrophysicist for God's sake.”

“What about the car?” Bobbie asks. “What did the cops say about the car?”

Wayne runs his fingers through his long hair. “They took all the information down. Told me some really depressing statistics.”

“Jesus,” Bobbie says. “I can't believe the Martians got Rickie and the car at the same time. That is depressing.”

“Fuck you,” Kepp says. “Fuck both of you.”

Everything gets super quiet. Kepp can feel the hum of electricity pulsing through wires. There’s a buzz to the silence. A rolling wave. The lights flicker, then dim. Bobbie reaches out for Wayne’s hand.

“You know who’d believe me? Fucking Rickie, that’s who. Shit, man, where is Rickie? What the hell happened?”

Wayne goes over to the window and peeks out. The crowd is dispersing and the stars are shining spectacularly bright.

Bobbie puts on the Hotel California playlist Rickie mixed two nights ago. She sways her hips and sings, slow and steady.

Kepp sighs. There are never any goddamned answers. Only questions. And too much trouble on a Saturday night. He pulls out the pipe and the lighter.

Still at the window, Wayne closes his eyes. The air in the room changes again. That’s when he sees it. All of it, playing like a movie, one frozen frame at a time.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 50 | Fall/Winter 2017