Enterprise by Ken Poyner

The crowd outside is angry. They shout obscenities at each other to build courage, shake pieces of pipe, boards, baseball bats, all to manufacture menace. They mill about the beyond the house, waiting for their pinned back energy to reach conclusion.

This is only the latest tactic.

When at first it was discovered I had taken all of their rainbows, a delegation of inquiry turned up. No accusations, just:  did you take our rainbows; have you still got them; and, if so, what do you intend to do with them?  They imagined that if they could divine my purposes, they could grow a plan to rescue the rainbows. Establish that I took them, that I still have them, that I have a design for them – and then come up with an appropriate counter-offer.

This would take weeks of discussions and one trip to the garage to display proof of rainbow possession. Negotiations were low key, limited to the anointed few. But spreading word of such a find was inevitable.

All through the course of these private discussions, I had a number of surreptitious outside offers. Various intense people would stop by late at night, offer me varying sums of money, delicate services. Ladies, sometimes several at once working in union, scantily clad, with sharply suggestive walks, would make proposal of indecent trade. 

Some wanted all of the rainbows, some wanted some particular rainbow, some wanted any rainbow at all. Some wanted to know why I took the rainbows, what I wanted them for. Others did not.

As a last resort, when all other methods – rational, committee, spiritual, monetary, carnal – failed, the local council let out to the public at large that it was I who had absconded with their rainbows, and that I hold them captive yet.

This crowd will grumble and stumble and tire from the alcohol consumed to nail down the nerve to gather here and threaten. If they act, it will be some other night, when reason brings them to admit that as a people they need their rainbows, and must in self-interest reclaim them.

Surely, in that extreme incident, they will drag me out to my front yard, one delegation beating me senseless, while another ransacks the house. Clothes and books and furniture set spinning, my nose broken, a shoulder out of socket, ribs soon to go. At the last, me within the door frame of death and the house from top to bottom ruined, they will think to look in the garage. And then there will be a delight of unfolding, joyous spreading of multiple rainbows out in almost their original arcs. And then their perplexity of what to do with them. None, in the exhausted crowd, will be proficient in the use of second-hand rainbows, the re-animation of them. And by then I will be too close to gone to instruct them.

For now, each day I look for rain storms, mists both natural and man-made, plot the likelihood of rainbows. When one does form, I untether it at one end, run its polychromatic length to the rainbow’s other end, unfasten it, and fold the light anomaly down to a size that will fit in my clunky workman’s lunch pail. Another rainbow to be warehoused in my garage. More outrage to be birthed in the community.

I do not know why I do it.

Ken’s collections of brief fictions, “Constant Animals”, “Avenging Cartography”, “Revenge of the House Hurlers”, and “Engaging Cattle”; and poetry, “The Book of Robot” and “Victims of a Failed Civics”, can be located at Amazon, most online booksellers, and through links at www.barkingmoosepress.com. He spent 33 years in information system management, is married to a world record holding female power lifter, and has a family of several cats and betta fish.  Individual works have appeared in “Café Irreal”, “Analog”, “Danse Macabre”, “The Cincinnati Review”, and several hundred other places.

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