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The Speed of Silence

by Pete Carter

A man sits alone in the park. Bells scream out a kidnapping has taken place. The fresh spring grass waves a thoughtful “hello“ in the breeze. Money saved is money earned. The city’s sounds pound against the walls of the park, nature holding back civilization’s grinding buzz.

He takes a deep breath and looks to the sky. The human body contains about five quarts of blood. The first modern hourglass was thought to have been invented in the eleventh century. He sees clouds wander thoughtfully across the horizon. With the invention of the magnetic compass, the hourglass was primarily used in navigation for ships at sea. In those clouds, he sees shapes of events that wove his life.

The clouds start out looking so sharp and clear, as if they could shave the blue out of the sky. In the game “Sands of Time,” the Prince of Persia controls his fate by rewinding time. But like all things that happen in a man’s life, with time they turn fuzzy around the edges and fade, as they parade to the point where the sky meets the dirt.

What the hell, he thinks. Bank is the German word for “bench.” There comes a time when a man discovers that five quarts is not a lot. The first banks were benches set up by moneylenders in the plazas of big cities.

The few animals left alive by man in the park forage for food. A clepsydra is an hourglass made with water. He wonders if the squirrels and pigeons really were left alive here or just too stubborn to die. Prince Amenemhet made the first clepsydra for an Egyptian king to tell time on cloudy or overcast days. Before banks, it was quite a common practice in the old west to bury your money in the ground. The squirrels sit in the trees thumbing their noses at civilization while collecting the scraps left behind by it to live on. The formula for the speed of sound is V (sound in air) = 331.4+0.6Tc m/s. He thinks that perhaps they are just smart enough not to be caught in the barely mesh gears that define our living.

Sound travels at 767.3866666... miles per hour at 68 degrees Fahrenheit; the police, quite a bit slower.

The bells cry for their babies as the hourglass expires.

Copyright © 2006 by Pete Carter

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