White laced gloves, decorative embroidery, jet-black hair, a long-short skirt and golden highlights held the duet partners together. A shared voice. The male Performer had a silver tie and a crystal hat atop his custard suit. His female counterpart held an anticipatory pose, the mic stand cradled in one hand, eyes closed, a downward glance. Her spare arm flared up and one leg held her whole weight while the other bounced to the rising melody.
Reading through this graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby reminded me of how stupid public school is. American “education”. Even if the original book is a great American classic, why on Earth should a 21st century teenager care about what a bunch of overly dramatic rich people from the roaring 20’s are up to? I haven’t read this book since high school. But, this colorful, abbreviated version makes a bit more sense now.
Polite, but not particularly gentle. At the end of her trolley express ride the three conductors unceremoniously tossed her off the contraption. The moment her boot struck ground the Instrumentalists instantaneously reversed course returning back into the depths of the blackened Tower. Sleet was left at the entrance of a mostly broken door that lead into the remains of a cozier, less expansive recording studio.
Sparks, flashes, broken lights, a red strobe. Wires, pipes, old system controls, rubble from the blown-out wall littered the concrete floor. Ambiance of machines working diligently in the distance, pistons firing, television screens and speakers on standby. Dull, rhythmic thuds occasionally pierced the industrial atmosphere. The stale air reminded Sleet of somewhere familiar.
A group of boys and young men gathered around the scene. At their head was one particular youth emanating an aura of confidence. Not only this, but he wore the illustrious Crown on his head. It was King. But, a very different King. Gone was the pauper boy of before, now was the proper man… Well… Sort of... He still wore his rough, dirty, torn clothes (now a size or three too small). Even so King was a tall, proud leader of his band of brothers. He was a bit taller than Feign and still held an orphaned scrawniness. Doubly so due to his recent growth spurt spurred on miraculously by the Crown.
Feign reassured her escort as they traveled back into the bowels of the City. Sleet crossed shadow and light, each time they drifted into the shadows Feign instantly reappeared at Sleet’s side in full form. Just as quickly Feign would disappear back into the safety of Sleet’s shadow once light was tripped. One or the other, only the two, never both.
The City seen as a blur now wove itself into a frightening maze that kept Sleet locked inside. Or perhaps, it was casting her out? She couldn’t tell. The streets themselves were situated for foot-travel. Not a car in sight nor any sign of one. Sleet wouldn’t even know what a car was. Despite the ecological boon most paths were in dire shape. Potholes, cracks, some so worn they lead into dirt. Looking up lead to no improvement in view. Smashed glass windows of clothing stores, buildings that claimed to sell food yet never had any, darkened arcades, museums full of art dulled by time, old worn-out office spaces.
She couldn’t see much beyond the outlines made by broken window-light. A bulking tower formed in the center of the basement. Unlike the Tower in the City this one was rough, jagged, unsightly as it stood. Cramped clutter forced her along small pathways as she felt her way forward. Clangs, shuffles, smashes echoed from the boy darting along in the great beyond.
The plane had taken damage. Its propeller, stopped. Smoke billowed from its engine. The pilot couldn’t be seen in the cockpit. No one knew who was behind the controls. But it was falling. Falling falling falling. It was in a death-spiral. A plummeting descent from the clouds trailing smoke toward the ground.
Where all forgotten things went until the end of time, it was here. A crashing plane, a girl in the setting sun. Her shadow, her friend. This Tower, a City of Wonder and the world beyond. What will she see in the spotlight? More than black and whites. Some red, some green, and lots of blue.