Barbecue at the End of the World
By Patrick M. Tracy
I’m not a real religious guy, so I guess I never thought much about the end of the world and all that. Read over the Revelations once when I was younger, but thought it was all a bunch of hokum. You know, scare the heathens and make ’em fly right. Didn’t care that much, one way or another. I’d try to be a stand up guy when I could, and hope that was good enough.
Anyway, here’s the end of the world, and it’s kind of a weird thing, really. They saw the meteor a few days back, and there was a time when they thought it’d miss us or burn up in the atmosphere. There was a lot of wild television, and I guess they burned up a few cities when the news came down. In the smaller places, though, it worked differently.
In Johnson’s Green, there was this big meeting at the local high school. We were scared, sure, but there was this big, calm feeling too. All the old shit didn’t matter, I guess. All the big deals, all the big worries, the guy that just lost his job, the guy whose crops hadn’t come in for three years, the lady who’d come down with a bad cancer—we were all fine. This, too, shall pass, I guess.
The morning of—day zero, like they called it on TV, we all sort of wandered out of our houses. Dave Lombardino had six bags of charcoal in his truck, and he drove down to the park at the center of town. We all got the idea and started to follow. We walked into the supermarket and just took what we wanted.
By eleven thirty or so, just about all of us were down at the park, and the smell of summer really came up in the air. Steaks, burgers, spare ribs. Man, it was sweet. We drank beers and tossed a baseball around. The kids were laughing and the dogs were fetching Frisbees on the grass. For the end of the world, it wasn’t nearly as bad as they said.
You can see the meteor now that it’s starting to slide toward twilight. I’m laying back on the grass, this real nice high school girl next to me. We just got done saying hello and goodbye, like you’d do when you didn’t get tomorrow, and it’s all right. She had some reefer, and I’m trying it for the first time, just now. I don’t have anything to compare it to except cold medicine, but I can say that I have a hard time not laughing.
It’ll hit soon, and they say it’ll only be a few hundred miles from here. I guess we’ll be cooked right away. No prolonged trouble. No tortures of hell.
“What do you think, Charlene?”
She turns to me. She’s crying. “I wanted to do a lot more. I had plans.”
I nod. “We got a nice day, though. We got a chance to put a cap on things.”
“I’m glad. She looks up at the sky, burning bigger and brighter every minute. “How much time do you think we have?”
“Not much longer now.”
“Want to try again before we burn?”
“Sure do, sweetie.” And we try again. And I guess it doesn’t really matter if I can or not. It’s the end of the world, after all.