That summer had been particularly hot–
the humidity thick and oppressive.
Leather-skinned women with oiled bodies
sat sprawled in beach chairs,
clutching tiny battery-operated fans
in wrinkled hands with yellowed nails
stained from a never-ending chain
Even the ocean–
the hallmark for which the town was named–
offered no relief;
its abundant seaweed slowly coiling around
legs and arms
as sinister and unnerving as a serpent.
The weekend of the car show was the
hottest on record.
Out-of-towners flooded the streets,
crowding the already crowded town.
The tourists brought with them
damp body heat and a stench of sweat
acting as a siren for the rage
that had been slowly building
under the surface–
a deep crimson rising
like the mercury in the thermometer
displayed outside the general store.
Nobody is quite sure what started it,
and in the end it doesn’t much matter.
The summer had been ripe with reasons:
the heat had turned rational into irrational;
indifference into hate;
disagreements into wars.
Like a flame exposed to air, the mundane argument
rapidly spread through the crowded town center
blanketing the town with
trash from overturned bins,
blood from broken noses
Eventually, it subsided.
Loud sirens from police cars and ambulances
tore the brawlers from their anger-infused haze.
Some went to hospitals
some went to jail.
Horrified children ran home and the
leather-skinned women shook their heads
on their way back to the beach.
The abandoned cars stood out
among the rubble and disarray–
a rainbow of bright colors
serving as a brilliant contrast to the
dark mood of the day.
Their hoods had been propped opened,
showcasing immaculately manicured engines
exposed like the organs of a
lying on the cold slab of a morgue.